COLUMN: A personal milestone in the new year

Abbotsford blogger Pauline Buck muses about a new year — and new challenges.

by Pauline Buck, Contributor

It’s not too late to talk about New Year’s.

For me the New Year hasn’t started yet.  It won’t until the end of January.

I don’t usually get excited about the regular New Year’s. In the past I’ve done all the traditional stuff: made resolutions, wise and ridiculous (that 10 pounds just won’t quit) and gone to the crazy parties with the hats and horns.  But I’ve never really been a devotee of the fact that the next day has a totally new date.

My birthday is toward the end of January, and that’s when I usually do my serious reflecting about the new date, especially if it’s a significant birthday; one with a 0 on the end.  Or in this year’s case, one that ends with five.

This year, on the morning of my personal New Year I will have a totally new handle.  I will wake up Pauline Buck Senior Citizen.

Also, I will no longer be Pauline Buck, communications manager for a health care foundation.

I will be Pauline Buck, retired – unemployed – out of work – lady of leisure – house mouse and caregiver.

Many people take this turning point in their lives hard. For me, I have never been so excited.

Retirement means so many new beginnings, and so much that is fabulous – starting with the fact that I will no longer have to join the early morning commuters on Highway 1 crawling across the construction zone that is the Port Mann Bridge.

And every  evening I won’t have to reverse the process. My life will pick up three hours a day.  I feel younger already!

And when the weather man calls for 20 cm of snow, which I know will prevent my car from leaving the driveway easily, I will run for my hidden stash of bon bons and curl up in front of the fireplace.

Then there’s the part where I can see my grandsons more during the week – maybe pick them up from school sometimes and spoil them at Dairy Queen.

In grandmother parlance, they call this revenge – get the kids hopped up on sugar then send them home.  (I never said I will be a good person. Just a retired person.)

But to me, the most important part about being retired will be the fact that I can stay home and look after my husband.

Two and a half years ago, he was diagnosed with dementia and his downhill slide has been rapid.

Initially, I could leave him all day when I went to work. Then I needed to enrol him in adult daycare two days a week; then organize in-home care for the other two days each week that I worked.

My heartbreak, other than my loss of the man he was, was that 40 years ago when I started my career I had to take my daughter to daycare.

To end my working days taking my husband to the adult equivalent was more than I could handle.

I am thankful for the tremendous support we received from Fraser Health’s excellent program for caregivers, but I love being the stay-at-home caregiver/wife now.

Bill will continue to go to his day program twice a week, because he loves the activities there and the friends he has.

And I will spend those two days pursuing my interests. I’ll see friends, work on my photography and research how to grow a better vegetable garden.

On non-daycare days, we may just loaf around all day – at least ’til planting season starts.

This New Year is going to be wonderful.

Pauline Buck is a local blogger who  writes on urban/rural living topics. Her blog can be found at www.pauline-homeontheranch.blogspot.com