In October I’ll hit 66. If I say it fast enough it doesn’t sound so bad! I’ll qualify for the Old Age Pension (what an awful name for a youngster like me), and free travel. FREE TRAVEL!!! I can’t wait for that.One of the great joys of retirement is good health, if you’re lucky. Touch wood, I’m doing ok. No dodgy knees or hips to worry about; no major health issues to concern me. I’m not particularly obsessed about my mortality, although I was more worried when I hit 50. Death is inevitable and I’m not going to dwell it now. Life is there to be enjoyed and there is so much I want to do.

When I reflect on the past 65 years I can honestly say it was like a game of football. The first half was filled with pain, hospital stays, operations, and failing attempts to come to terms with my facial disfigurement. And then I met Trish. That ushered in a remarkable transformation that included a wedding, three children (although, sadly, Alan would died after 22 months), and Sarah Jane’s wedding last year.

I spent 42 mostly happy years in the Irish Examiner and made some great friends. I still meet some of them every now and then, but my world no longer revolves around the paper. I’ve moved on and don’t get excited if I miss the news or current affairs programmes any more. I now have time for Trish and myself to do the things we want to do.

I read 60-70 books a year, which is a lot more than when I worked in the Examiner. I also read magazines like The New Yorker, New York, Vanity Fair, the Smithsonian, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books to mention just some – all free via a library app.

We love eating out, going for weekends away – Sheen Falls, the Shelbourne to name our recent ones – plus travel. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control these have been limited over the past few months, although we’re hoping to make a trip before our son’s wedding in France this summer. Where to we don’t know.

Trish would love to visit Kenya or South Africa, but I want to live a little longer! Australia doesn’t appeal to me either. I want to return to New York again. It’s such an amazing city. London is also on the horizon, and we might even get there this year, all going well.

I’m busy working on the family tree and sorting out the hundreds of photos and documents mum left behind. I hope to have those organised by the middle of next month, if not sooner.

It seems very strange not having mum around anymore. I’m coming to terms with her loss, but it’s taking longer than I thought. She was a great believer in getting on with living and I’m going to do just that.

Here’s to a terrific 2019 for all of us.