Thursday, November 22, 2007

Going South

Last night I said to April, "It’s getting so cold here. I wish we could go south for the winter."

She looked at me for a second, then burst out laughing. Because, you see, we are going south, just two weeks from now, to the sunny west coast of Mexico, for our fourth consecutive winter in Yelapa. This year, our son and his family will join us for the first two weeks.

"Aren’t we lucky?" April said.

Yes, we are. We’re extravagantly lucky. There’s no other word for it. It’s compensation for growing old, I guess, our reward to ourselves for making it to retirement, for somehow having the means (though just barely) to go south. But we’re doing so out of selfishness.

We’re being selfish—we’ve had to face it—because, rather than putting our daughter through college (she was accepted this year into the music program at the University of Victoria and is attending on a student loan), and maybe helping our son out financially to establish himself in business, we’ve elected to keep most of my just over six-figure inheritance from my mother for ourselves. We’ve invested it so that it adds modestly to our monthly pensions, and so, since 2005, we’ve been able to escape the Canadian winter.

Our rationale? Our children are young adults. They have their lives ahead of them, during which, with luck, they’ll somehow establish themselves to the point where they, too, might enjoy the fruits of retirement and travel. We, on the other hand, have our lives mostly behind us. The trouble with retirement, as I say to younger people who express their longing for it, is that unless you make a fortune beforehand, you have to get old before you can retire. It’s a state a little like being more or less comfortably on death row. It can be pleasant, but there’s no hope of your sentence being commuted.

Anyway, we might have put my less-than-large inheritance into a trust fund for our kids, let them draw on it as needed, and stayed put in our little homemade house, on our 9.2 acres of land, into our declining years—a house and land (the land, anyway) that the kids will inherit someday, for whatever they or it may be worth. Our hope is that it’ll be worth something.

So, selfishly, we’ll again go south this winter—and for as many more winters as we’re allowed in our increasing old age.