Linda’s Lips: Thoughts and Musings of an Early Retiree Refusing to Sit by the Fireside Armchair


by Linda Reale – Horvat

Life is an adventure! I have always lived my life this way, moving from country to country, making many friends from different backgrounds and LOVING to travel! I revelled in my new experiences: love, life, family, friends. And then I retired and returned “home” after 35 years abroad……..

I am an early retiree let me add – I was lucky to get early retirement. I had left Ireland on 1.1.1978 and retired on 1.1.2014! A lot of water under that bridge. My mother was not in the best of health, lived alone and was lonely. She asked me to come “home”. Ha ha, as things turned out she was healthier than I was – but I digress.

Limerick has changed a lot since I left. I always felt that it had been treated unfairly by the rest of the country. But it had always had a special place in my heart and I always wanted to return. This long-term planning had been on hold for the 18 years of my marriage. I would have spent my retirement years elsewhere. Although regularly visiting Limerick, this was my first plan.

But then divorce arrived and I could revert to my original plan – albeit 10 years before I intended to! But I was happy to be there for my mother and that I had obtained the early retirement to enable me to be there for her.

But my God how Limerick had changed – granted in a good way! I cast my net far and wide for the first couple of years in order to re-establish my life and re-insert myself into life in Limerick! Nothing was excluded: and I was pleasantly surprised at how many 50+ activities there were! Yoga, dance……..and there was such a vibrant and developing cultural life here. I also used this time to re-establish links with school friends from many years before – are there any truer friends than those who know you, warts and all, as you grew up and developed.

I became ill, had chemo and discovered exactly who was a true friend (and, indeed more importantly who was not). I had been told that I would lose my hair – surely the hardest thing to go through for any woman? I mean chemo is bad enough but for goodness sake…… After my first session nothing happened, hair was still there. In true “Linda” fashion, I believed that I would be the exception – at least I would keep my hair! Ha ha yeah, right……After the second session, OMG it came out in handfuls. Traumatic. Let’s get to grips with this! I rounded up a number of friends, went to the hairdresser with several bottles of champagne and told him to “shave it off.” He did. I was cheered and drank champagne with friends.

Everyone told me that I had a good shaped head; my God can you imagine going through chemo and discovering that you had a badly shaped skull?? You’d never recover! Anyway, recover I did, thank God. One day at a time. My sister was very supportive; my brother was a prick and my mother did not come near me for the duration. Live and learn. Hair came back – albeit short and grey. I had never had short hair and, indeed, had never allowed my hair to be its natural colour – but I did now. And embraced it as a new stepping stone in my life. Onwards and upwards; one day at a time.

I continue to seek new activities to keep me engaged, active and fit. I have stopped worrying about my weight. One of the things I love about being older is that I do not apologise for what I think or what I feel – life is too short. I embrace me as I am! (but I am always looking for new activities so let me know if you have some to suggest……)
After a rocky start with my mother (who expected me to sit on the opposite fireside chair with her everyday – not me!) – and was very nasty to me (yes, mother/daughter dynamic etc etc is part of the reason), things have calmed down. She is more infirm and getting more inactive. But she can still live at home and has visitors every day (me, carers) and I think this is important for her. I would do all to enable her to stay at home for as long as possible.

So, this has all been brainstorming on my part. Surely, there are other people out there with similar experiences and opinions, with suggestions to make life interesting and active and as exciting (albeit at a slower pace, ha ha) as it once was.

I look forward to your comments. xxx



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