Tales of Retirement
By Claude Lafreniere
Engineering Lab Supervisor, Personnel Department Manager, Semi-Conductor Buyer
Claude Lafreniere is a francophone person who lives in Montreal, Quebec. Although he rarely speaks English, he offered to write this article in English.
I am 91 years old and retired since 1978. I worked for 31 and 1/2 years and retired 39 years ago. I take no pills, drive my car, cook my meals, wash my clothes, live in a condo and I am never bored. Not bad for an old man!
The secret!!! I live day by day as today may be the last.
While at work at Nortel (Northern Electric in 1946) in Montreal, I wore many hats: in-line production, shipping, inspection, lab technician, lab supervisor, the first industrial hygienist in the company. Then I was transferred to the personnel department where I did placement, counselling, lay-offs, grievances, employment and retirements. My last job was semi-conductor buyer. I never got bored with my jobs, and asked the company to pension me off as I was tired to see Nortel (Northern Telecom then) change and move around all around the world. I imagine I was really due for retirement (at 52 years old!) and for a change in my life.
Retired early, full of pep
Then I worked for a real estate broker for 1 1/2 years but this was not my bag. I only earned $4000 during that period. But making more money was not my interest. I bought a piece of land (6 acres including 5 wooded acres) in an 800 people municipality, 160 km from Montreal, practically in the middle of nowhere. For 2 years I lived in a tent in the summers while cleaning the ground and trimming the trees. Then I decided to buy a prefabricated house partially finished. I was then 55 years old and full of pep. I put parquetry on the floors, painted the walls and front cedar finish, connected the well to the pomp and finished the plumbing, connected the sewer to the septic tank. Don’t forget that this was a farmer`s land and it had to be levelled before planting and mowing grass. I also planted flowers, trees, built a shed for my equipment and planted a garden.
I found the time to travel a bit around Quebec, Ontario, the Maritimes, Florida, Atlantic City, New York. I did some hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. As the house was 250 feet away from the main road, I had a snow-blower to do the job, a 10 HP and 32 inches machine. Besides that, I was responsible for the village public library, I was president of the Seniors Club for 6 years, and I also wrote, edited, printed and distributed a newsletter to the members. I was president of our Optimist Club and secretary-treasurer of another club.
Then, getting older (71 years old) I moved to Sherbrooke in a condo that had 6 units. Sherbrooke is a main city with 100,000 persons, 2 universities, 2 hospitals, government agencies, and many others. I felt more secure. You have to admit that your machine is deteriorating slowly. There also, I kept busy: I was the secretary-treasurer of our condo, I organized the repairs, grass cutting, snow removal, tall cedar edge trimming. I also planted flowers and trees myself and took care of minor repairs. Then I started accompanying people (mostly elderly) to hospitals and clinics, and even to the grocery store.
On top of all that I always liked reading, all kinds of books, but mostly police novels.
At age 81, I moved in a condo in Montreal. Here I look after the flowers growing in pots on my balcony and I still do minor repairs around the place. I still do my own income tax.
Oh, I forgot, I have my laptop, in fact it is the 3rd one. I pay my bills on the net, I am on Facebook and I email my children and friends regularly.
Happiness depends on you
You are still afraid of retiring?? Do some planning and don`t expect to have the same life. You will get used to getting less money and don`t forget, more money will not make you happier. Happiness depends on you, on your state of mind.
Go to the restaurant. It may be on the corner or 100 km away. Visit new places around, or even old places, have friends, read, help others, have a hobby, play golf if you like (I don`t). Follow your imagination, have a picnic in the park near a river and admire mother nature.
At 91, I do less moving around, but we still go to restaurants, we go on car rides, shopping, reading and crosswords puzzles.
Go and enjoy your retirement according to your own interests, not with what people think you should do! If you like company, belong to a group. If you are a loner like me, you are independent, you can do what you want, go where you want to, need to or … can. Because at my age I have a lot of desires… but lack the power to realize them!!!