Dad is retiring on Tuesday. He told me this piece of news when I saw him in the car park at the local supermarket. He was sitting in his ute eating a continental roll. Together we walked to the war nurses' memorial garden and sat on a bench. I told him about the class I'd taught that morning. He told me about how his work place has changed recently. He's retiring next Tuesday because Tuesday is the end of the pay week. He said he wanted to go quiet like, which is so him.
Both of us had to get back to work. I walked away thinking 'Faark, Dad's retiring.' He's actually past the official retirement age, but his work has been so sweet and the economy so pressing that he's stayed on.
I'm not sure, but I think Dad worked full time for other people/companies for about fifty five years. During that time he has brought up eight daughters, endured all our dramas, been a sympathetic and gentle mentor to all of us, taught us that girls can do all the same stuff boys can. He's given any man who'd get involved with me or my sisters leagues of boots to fill.
I use to drop in to see him at the workshop when he was a refrigeration mechanic. The room was so rife with ammonia that I couldn't breathe and talk at the same time. His every day work was a place where I couldn't even breathe. He breathed easy, he was used to it, but his beard had greyed; from age, a big life change, or stress. I've seen him so exhausted from his work, and then the quiet weeks of household financial lap-banding when certain businesses shut down and everyone in town, including him, lost their jobs.
Men ... work.
As the oldest daughter who not only broke the ice but smashed it into tiny pieces, I think I gave him and Mum a bit of grief. I wanted to be an artist/traveller/sojourner. I was arrogant and full of bravado. (Not much has changed) The small-town moralities I'd grown up with didn't work for me after I'd read Henry Miller, John Fowles and Anaiis Nin. Dad probably rolled his eyes at having to defend me whenever I got into gnarly situations when my ideals collided with reality, but still he encouraged me to be everything of the woman I am now.
Then he would drive along the causeway in his ute, past the shipwreck, to work.