Growing old is something we all will face one day and if that is not enough it comes with all the added challenges, Jeremey*, once a respected headmaster of our community, that between his wife and himself educated and moulded hundreds of students, in our community some leaders in their trades all around the world.
“I went into teaching for the love of helping kids learn as I felt there is no greater gift to a child than a good education. As we all know the salaries within the teaching world are never in the “upper earning” jobs but it was never about the money but rather the satisfaction of success of seeing another year of students graduating and leaving to make their mark in the world. I always felt it my duty to always put my family and students first and never give up on any individual, no matter how rebellious or non-academic they may be as there is always a place for everyone in this world. I had many years of joy and faced numerous challenges through my career like putting my children through university worrying how I would make each year’s payment on fees but we succeeded as a family and you know what was my greatest achievement was still having the beautiful woman I married 40 years ago still standing by my side, so supportive through even the toughest situations, I could not have done it without her.
Retirement when I reached it felt well deserved, and was for those early years. I now had time for my other passion, gardening which was now a full time for me, my wife continued to teach and our children who as a result of tough times here, lived around the world and it was such a pleasure when they came home and brought the grand children as I had time to enjoy them.
Then 2008 happened, my retirement package which I had invested and was earning enough interest to just survive on comfortably, “was lost” I get goose bumps just reliving the morning we woke up and basically everything I worked for was gone and our lives suddenly on a different path. It put my wife and I them into a state of shock I remember thinking how even as an educated man I had not evolved with the times I still believed in the system that honest investments would be honoured and although interest rates were erratic I thought it was part of the financial world and the system had never failed before but how naïve I was, I was still from an era that a handshake was a man’s word how could our money be lost we could not comprehend this and a visit to the bank and investment department would set things straight but as it didn’t, we had lost everything.
For the first time I thought where to from here? But this is not a sad story and sympathy is not what I am looking for as God is in my life and a sunny disposition is how I have always been so we decided to pull our belts in and make the most of a really bad situation. She continued to teach and I started up private tutoring from home to keep home fires burning. It was slow at the start and a little depressing but things picked up and our wonderful children helped where they could so it turned out fine. However the story does not end there and I was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer that has been quite aggressive, for the first time my family needed assistance and how difficult it was as a proud man to ask for help and receive it. Six months down the line from starting my treatment my son passed away which was the most difficult situation I have ever had to deal with for the simple reason you never think you will bury your child in your lifetime, it’s just not meant to be.
Unfortunately the radiation treatment I received for my skin cancer burnt me quite badly leaving quite a bad open wound with such awful pain. After four attempts to rectify the situation but without success I was referred to another specialist that managed to sort things out and get my excruciating pain under control, so things are once again on the up for me. I am reminded of a wonderful phrase I once read and thought how appropriate it is to my story -“I’ve discovered both how long and how short my story is. I know how much can happen in a moment, but also that, in the end, all moments will drown in the waves of time.”
* Names and images have been changed for security reasons.