Short of dying, retirement is the biggest exit role; the fantasy of the young, putting your feet up, doing what you want and having fun. But the truth is, once the time came, when I was able to retire, I had invested so much of myself in work. Thank goodness for phased retirement-it really helped; that is, when I eventually bit the bullet, and handed in my intention to retire to my line manager. I could’ve retired at the age of fifty five years, but it took me six years to finally accept that it was time to retire.
Being a single parent for many years has given me an overwhelming sense of responsibility towards my three daughters, and I convinced myself that I couldn’t afford to retire. After all, who would pay the bills, if not me? I learned a lot about myself, as I agonised over when was the right time. I discovered that I had a certain amount of professional pride and that I feared the possibility of regretting my decision to retire; but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I am in the fortunate position of being able to return to work after retirement, so what was the root of this apprehension? I talked this over with a colleague, who was also thinking of retiring, and we were both able to admit to each other, that we were worried about the loss of authority that we had; as I looked more closely at myself, I realised that my pride was blocking my ability to take stock of my life, and enjoy the finer things, like spending time with family, and also having more time to write.
So what changed? I would like to say that it was an easy decision, but that would be a lie. In September 2019, my mother died at the age of seventy eight years; I always imagined her living to a ripe old age, just as her mother had. I was seventeen years younger than my mother, and at the age of fifty nine, I suddenly realised that life was indeed not a dress rehearsal, and that I should enjoy every breath that I am fortunate enough to breathe. Even then, it took me another year to consider retiring. And then there’s the pandemic; not seeing loved ones for many months, and then catching covid, was the deciding factor.
In January 2021, I informed my line manager of my intention to retire, but even then I wasn’t fully convinced that it was the right decision. I had the opportunity to reapply for my job, on reduced hours, and this was very tempting; I would have the same amount of authority, on reduced hours-and my pension! What could be better? My family asked me why I was retiring, if it wasn’t to have more time and less stress; it was then that I decided to resign from my position of senior charge nurse, and apply for a very part time post with less responsibility. This was very liberating, and I am now enjoying two months off, before returning on a six hour contract, as a nurse, with the option of working more hours, should I wish to do so.
I have worked for the NHS for forty three years, in various areas. Each area has taught me so much, and I have enjoyed being part of great teams, who work hard in every shift, to deliver the highest standard of care and service to the people of Scotland. I would be lying if I said that it’s always been plain sailing-after all, none of us is perfect- what I will say is, that I value all of my NHS colleagues, especially at NHS24. You each make a valuable contribution to the service-from housekeeping to directorship, and I consider myself blessed to have worked alongside each and everyone of you.
A final word to my current line manager-you have been so supportive over that last few years, as were your colleagues. Each of you meet the challenges in your own unique way-give everyone the recipe for a cake, and each will bake a different cake-I have enjoyed each cake. To the ‘big heid yin’ JM, thank you for facilitating my transition to the 6 hour contract; it really means a lot to me, that you considered me worthy of coming back.
I’ll give you all a thought, as I head out to Nice next week, maybe even raise a glass or two, to all at NHS 24. I know this is a particularly stressful time for everyone, so just always remember to breathe and enjoy life.
With love and best wishes to everyone at NHS 24
‘Mazza the Hutch’