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Kathryn Brookfield at her home in Winchester, south of Ottawa, Thursday, June 30, 2022. Photo by Ashley Fraser/Globe and MailAshley Fraser/The Globe and Mail

In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

Kathryn Brookfield, 69, Winchester, Ont.

I retired about 11 years ago, at age 58, after a career as a high-school teacher and later as a manager at a federal public service union in Ottawa. I suffered from depression, and the job was very stressful. I had a very good pension and decided it was time to stop working to focus on my mental and physical health. It was a huge relief to be able to do that for myself.

My late husband, who was six years older than me, owned an advertising agency in Ottawa and started to wind down his work around the same time. In 2011, once we were both retired, we moved to Wellington, Ont., in Prince Edward Country, where we lived for 10 years. We had a terrific time there but then decided to move to Winchester – about a 30-minute drive south of Ottawa – which was more accessible for our families and made it easier to get specialty health care services.

Sadly, my husband passed away in May, 2021, before we moved to our new home. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April and died a few weeks later. It was very unexpected. It also caused me to rethink my retirement plans.

I decided to sell our home, which I moved into in November, and will be relocating to a rental apartment in Ottawa this fall. It’s a lovely place that overlooks the Ottawa River. I decided to rent from now on so I’m not tying up my capital. I’m investing and plan to travel a lot more now that pandemic restrictions are easing. My bucket list includes cruises on the Nile and Danube rivers, and I’ve booked a trip to Paris next June.

My advice to others is that, if you’re healthy enough and have the finances, go travelling as soon as possible. And enjoy spending time with your partner, because you never know what might happen.

I also recommend getting involved in your community to stay active and engaged in retirement. Personally, I like volunteering where I can use my brain and spend time outdoors. Over the years I have volunteered at local gardens and as an English-language tutor. I have also done fundraising for various non-profit organizations. It’s very satisfying to be able to help others.

My advice: Think about what you like about life and then see if you can transfer it into something where you can meet new people, get involved in your community and find a true sense of belonging.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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