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Monday, October 29, 2018

The start of the next part

Since I last wrote, a big change took place in our lives.  Tony retired from work, 30 years to the day after starting federal employment.  He is 56, so this is a fairly early retirement.  Having him retire early was a huge decision, mostly for financial reasons, but it was the right decision, I am quite certain.

On the day Tony retired, a thought kept running through my head---"The hardest part is over now".  That's where the title of this post comes from.  Of course, I knocked on wood, and of course I know that there are still going to be many tough parts of life.  But from now on, there are two of us to care for Janey.

The smile of a man 5 minutes into retirement!
About a week after Tony retired, I looked at him and realized he truly looked about 10 years younger than he had for the past few years.  Mothers get all the glory and sympathy often in this special needs parenting game, but it's hard to overstate all Tony has done over the years.  Especially the past few years, he was working a job that was extremely stressful.  He woke very early every morning, helped me get Janey off to school, went to work all day, came home, took over with Janey usually, took her for car rides and made her supper, then had to go to bed when she did so he could get up and do it all over again.  He often went days without any time to himself, save maybe his time on the train.  He did all this while dealing with a serious health condition (severe type 2 diabetes---he's been insulin dependent for many years).  Tony's brother lives upstairs from us and is increasingly disabled from the complications of diabetes also, and Tony helps him a lot too.  When Janey didn't sleep, often Tony didn't sleep, and there were so many days I simply didn't even know how he got through the day.

Financially, retiring this early is not going to be a piece of cake, but that isn't something we find nearly as important as our health and happiness.  As long as we can eat, have health care and have a roof over our heads, the rest is gravy.

I've often thought of how in cartoons, characters run off cliffs, but keep going along just fine until they realize they have gone off the cliff.  That's how a lot of our life the past few years has felt.  Not everything is within the scope of what I write about here, but suffice to say we've been running on fumes a lot of the time.  Despite Janey being our joy, our delight, despite her being far happier than she was during some darker years for her, the demands of special needs parenting are always there.  That is something it can be hard to explain to those who haven't lived the life, and can be seen as a complaint, as something I shouldn't mention because I should only emphasize the joy.  But I want to speak the truth here, and the truth is that it's hard.  It's very hard.  It's very hard having a child that will never, ever care for herself, that needs supervision that realistically only we as parents can safely provide when she is not in school, 24 hour, 7 day a week supervision, and that this will be forever.  I know my dying thought will be of Janey, of her happiness and safety.

And so we start the next part.  The next part has been good, so far.  It's the little things that are the most surprisingly special.  On the 2nd day Tony was home, after Janey went to school, after a long night when she didn't sleep well, we went back to sleep after she got on the bus.  We slept in until 10.  We woke up astonished.  It was the first time ever we have slept in together.  Ever.  Last night, we stayed up to see our beloved Red Sox win the World Series.  We didn't have to think for one minute that we should be getting to sleep.  We knew we could rest a bit today.  Those kind of moments are worth the change in income.  They are the kind of special small things I think our new life will include a lot of. 

And most importantly than anything, it's wonderful to see the joy having Tony home gives Janey.  Afternoons when she got off the bus were always a very tough time.  Now, Daddy greets her, and right away cooks her whatever she wants to eat.  Together, they blissfully eat things I wouldn't touch---fried eggplant, steamed greens, tuna salad---and Janey dances around with happiness. 

Here's to you, Tony.  We made it to the next part.


pianorox said...

Happy for both of you, and enjoy your time together when you can get it!

Freeyoke said...

Good to see that Tony's retirement is possible due to his 30 years on the job. Sounds like my Dad who worked steadily most or all of his life. Can't say the same for myself. Luckily he's a dependable family guy who can be around for you and your daughter.

Glad you included Janey's uncle as I hadn't read much about him in many posts lately.