Nothing wrong with being the boss in the sunset years of life

Country Living with Francis Farragher

THERE are those of us in little glasshouses who most of the time can’t afford to be throwing stones, and far be it from me to join in any clamour for the elder rulers statesmen (yes, mostly men) of this world to hang up their boots and let a younger generation take the reins.

The other evening though, I was taken aback a little when a mature lady of very sound mind and body remarked after a Joe Biden image appeared on the telly in the local that: “It’s time that lad hung up his boots.”

After gently reminding her that this might be construed as an ‘ageist’ comment, she pointed out that there was a time for all of us ‘to come and go’ as I began to feel slightly uneasy about my own position in life.

A few weeks back too, I bumped into an old acquaintance from what could roughly be described as the business world who at this stage of his life has to be in the second half of his 80s.

Always a man for work and with a bubbly enthusiasm to go with it, I slightly mischievously asked him if he had ever contemplated retiring. His response was good humoured but quite decisive. “Work is the fuel that keeps me going; it’s the petrol for my engine; and I don’t want that engine to stop anytime soon.”

I had to admire his enthusiastic zest for life during an evening when I had a sore right thumb, a slightly stiff knee and a little wheeze in my chest, but there and then, the penny dropped that my troubles were relatively small ones.

It all takes me back more than a few decades when I embarked on what was my first sun holiday: no messing around here, a full two-weeks under the blue skies of Cyprus in early summer, surely had to have only one conclusion – a period of pure bliss.

However, after the second day of doing absolutely nothing, a little home-truth began to dawn me that you do need things to keep your mind occupied. Gradually I began to embark on little missions like swims, walks and reading missions which helped in a small way to stop feeling just a bit ‘down’. I realised there and then that this great dream of ‘doing nothing’ was indeed a false God. In the end, the only conclusion I could come to, was that ‘there was nothing worse than doing nothing’.

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