‘Why I’m not going to call myself a retiree’

Oct 05, 2019
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The word 'retiree' doesn't apply to this writer. Source: Getty Images

Whenever I see the word ‘retiree’ it makes me feel a little bit odd. I only ever worked until I was 19, then I got married. I’m just not sure ‘retiree’ is a term that applies to me.

I never had any dreams to go to university or continue my studies. My schooling only went as far as intermediate level, and in those days (I’m talking the 1960s) you needed your Leaving Certificate to advance any further. I suppose the equivalent today would be a tertiary entrance statement or SAT score, or the like … However, I wasn’t very clever with the subjects.

My schooling consisted of the very basics — reading, writing and arithmetic. I loved to read! I also enjoyed cooking classes and art. There were more advanced classes though, they often referred to our class as the ‘basket weaving class’. Yet, once I’d received that certificate I walked out of school and was ready to earn a living. I worked as a clerk until the day I got married.

We started our family soon after and I loved being a stay at home mother. There was none of this daycare or before or after school hours care in those days, but even if there was I wouldn’t have sent my children.

My husband was a truck driver and worked long hours. I’m sure he would have liked me to have returned to work, but we made sacrifices and that allowed me to raise our children. After 50 years of marriage, I’d say that was a good decision.

But as I’ve never really ‘retired’ from the workplace, can I define myself as a retiree? I’m not so sure.

Perhaps ‘pensioner’ is a more appropriate definition for where I am in this stage of life … My husband and I own our own house, but we don’t have superannuation or any money saved for a ‘rainy day’. We rely on our pensions to get by.

We’re both satisfied with being at home and are comfortable in our own house. Yet, if we had the desire to travel we could. We’re not that restricted.

I guess the reason I started thinking about all this was because I’m celebrating my 70th birthday this year. The lead up has allowed me to reflect on my life so far, and while I don’t feel like I can class myself as a retiree (‘working’ in the home raising five beautiful children) I can still be grateful. I’m here and take each day as it comes.

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Do you feel the term 'retiree' should only apply to those retiring from employment? What label would you give yourself?

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