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Maurice Lafleur, who recently retired, hikes in Calgary on June 20.TODD KOROL/Todd Korol/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.

Maurice Lafleur, 64, Calgary

I retired a couple of years ago at 62, not because I wanted to, but because my health dictated it.

It was during the first wave of the pandemic and I was under a lot of pressure in my retail management job. My doctor told me then that my cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof and that I was on the verge of having a heart attack. My blood tests showed that I had developed Type 2 diabetes and was at high risk for prostate cancer. My doctor said, ‘You need to relax more, or you’re going to die.’ So, when my company offered a buyout package shortly after that diagnosis, I took it.

Stopping work was like coming off of coffee. There’s a sudden drop in adrenaline. I still had the mindset that I had to be somewhere and do something. At first, I thought I might just take time off and go back to work in a few months. My brain was saying, ‘You can’t just do nothing.’

But I didn’t do nothing: I focused on my health. I immediately started eating better, taking on a plant-based diet and exercising more, including hiking and biking. I lost 50 pounds in 2.5 months. I went back to my doctor and he was amazed; my blood pressure had come down, my cholesterol was under control and he was able to take me off all of the medication prescribed a few months earlier.

My wife, who is 61, is still working, which she enjoys. She’s in retail management and travels a lot across B.C. and Alberta. I often go with her on those work trips so that we can spend more time together. While she’s in meetings, I usually go on long walks, exploring different places while listening to books on tape. I’ve been listening to some great books like Don Quixote, The Count of Monte Cristo and the works of authors like Haruki Murakami.

What I enjoy most about retirement is spending more time with my family, including my three children and one grandson. My doctor says I could return to work if I wanted to, but I don’t think I will. Now my wife is talking about retirement, something we discussed a lot when we were younger but weren’t seriously considering – at least not until our 70s. Thankfully we have the financial means for when we both reach that ‘I don’t want to work here anymore’ moment. We planned ahead for it. Planning is what will help you make the decision to retire with confidence.

To me, retirement is another phase of life. It’s not just about doing more of what you already do, but also learning new things. It’s about doing more of what’s good for you and your family.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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