This is the story of a man…a friend of the family.
He was born in the late 1930s and starting making lots of money pretty early. Became a director, drove a custom-built Mercedes, first-class business trips all over the world. That kind of life. But all through those decades, he was working 12, 14, 15-hour days. He lived to work day and night, evenings and weekends. He had (and lost) 2 wives and 3 children who got fed up that he was never around. He made tremendous sums of money and it sat there accruing, because he never went anywhere to spend it.
Anyway, time rolled on. At 67, he was offered a chance to take a lesser role at work or retire. He left and worked abroad for 10 years, still doing those long days, now on to the 3rd marriage.
And then… today. He’s almost 80. He can’t find anywhere to give him a job, so he goes to the gym (3 hours per day) then gardens exhaustively until the sun sets and teaches himself Spanish in the evenings. He won’t watch films or dramas because he thinks only idiots watch TV. He won’t read fiction because it’s not “real learning.” He won’t adopt a pet because animals are “a fuss” and what’s the point of them.
And so he comes to see us occasionally, and talks about death and dying, and how he has no-one to talk to and can’t get around like he used to. He sometimes shows me photo albums of the children from the first 2 marriages, but he hasn’t seen them in 50 years.
I am torn between feeling very sorry for an isolated older man (who was/is a brilliant intellectual), and feeling a strange kind of resentment and “You deserve it” sort of reaction for being a workaholic all those years. I don’t know what to feel. I’m also torn between wanting the life he used to live (all that money!) and worrying that I’ll end up lonely as well. Anyway, I thought I’d share.
From budgets to cutbacks...