Looking Towards Retirement and Expat-dom: Making Meaning of a Life

Baby Claire and Mother

Baby Claire and Mother

On my father’s side, I am the last of my line. Two aunts and an uncle left no children (or at least, none known to me). I’m an only child, born to a reluctant, unexpectedly pregnant 40-year-old mother and father. I have not been married, had no children, and now I’m pondering whether I will eventually disappear without a trace, leaving nothing of real value behind.

As a psychotherapist working with children and their families for the past thirteen years, only time will tell whether I made any difference to those young lives, or to the adults who so greatly influenced them in those early years. As for the adults with whom I worked in the years before that, I have as little knowledge of their lives and successes, and of what, if any, contribution I may have offered to their growth and progress.

Will I leave any legacy, whether known to me or not? These are thoughts that intrude as I prepare, painfully slowly, to let go of my working life in the United States to travel to Nicaragua and begin “retirement”. I wonder if it’s too late for me to do something that I can know will be worthwhile in the world. Maybe it is. If so, can I live with that? But I’m not frail, decrepit or losing my wits as yet, and although I plan to continue writing, I know that finding something to do that satisfies my soul is going to make a pretty huge difference to my experience of retirement–whatever that is!

Nicaragua is not short of opportunities for volunteering and there are probably also unmet needs that might be addressed by someone inspired to do so. I hope that, among the things and people that will keep me busy, I’ll find the right thing (or things) for me once I’m there and settled.

So for today at least, my retirement is about, well, to quote the name of one of Lush’s bath bombs, “waving not drowning”.

Granada Cathedral from park

Granada Cathedral from park

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