Time is drawing near…

It’s 4 in the afternoon.  Still a few hours until nightfall.  The birds are singing, chirping, squawking, such a variety nesting in the area.  The rest of the world is quiet in the small town of Tyalgum, Australia.  The gentle breeze is soothing and relaxing and my cup of tea makes it all a very serene moment, giving me time to reflect.

My two eldest sons have now been living in Australia for the better part of the past 16 years – my eldest moved here as a teenager to further his university studies and decided to make this country his home.  My second son moved here with his wife (then girlfriend) about 6 years ago.  Both now have 3 sons between them, and I am a very proud grandmother.

My husband and I have been here now for just about 4 weeks, and the time is flying by ever so quickly.  Using our time and talents to help our sons with their growing families.  Enjoying the precious time spent with our grandchildren – meeting them practically for the first time, after leaving our eldest two years ago at the tender age of 3 months.  We were greeted by two little confident, loving, funny, chatty, determined toddlers and one sweet 3 month-old angel – our hearts melted instantly and we immediately felt the dread of leaving them in the short six weeks ahead.

How does that work.  How is it that you can fall so deeply in love with little humans with just a smile, a snuggle, a giggle.  I will never understand.

We’ve been busy travelling back and forth between their homes – an hour’s drive each way – and have come to love this part of the country.  Tyalgum boasts of just over 500 residents and is nestled in the foothills of Mount Warning, the world’s largest extinct shield volcano, surrounded by farmlands, mountains, creeks and rivers which make this area such a joy to explore.  The centre of the town itself can be leisurely visited in just a short 10 minutes and has all the necessities including a cricket oval, a playground for kids, ice cream parlour, general store and of course, a bottle shop. Sunday afternoon is their busy day when the neighbours gather at the local pub for a quick meal and a beer or two, while being entertained by a live band made up of members of the community.  Charming indeed.

Mullumbimby, Australia’s biggest little town, is a bit larger with just over 3,000 residents and seems like a metropolis in comparison.  When you first arrive, it feels like a one-horse-town with not much action but that is part of the charm of Mullumbimby. It is known for its cafes serving world class coffee, quite often locally grown, and its choice of restaurants, local bakery and butcher, all your needs being met within a stone’s throw away.  The weekly Saturday market offers an opportunity for the neighbours to meet each other, share a meal, and of course be serenaded by the local artists.  A simple life, no fuss, no bother.  Locally the town is known as Mullum. Back in the day, this town grew weed so potent it was known as Mullum Madness – go figure. Fashion is alternative and shoes are always optional.

Both towns exude a simplicity of life and ease of living.  A haven for young children where the outdoors beckon, the rivers pique your curiosity for exploring, the trails easy to venture.

We’ve been joyfully busy.  Grateful for every moment shared. But the reality is that we will leave in a short two weeks, having put our life on pause for our grandchildren.  Creating memories that we hope will build a base for many more to come.

The start of something new…

I retired at the age of 60.

It was not without much thought and planning though.  And it certainly wasn’t because I was unhappy in my job.  Nestlé afforded me what I would consider a rewarding career path over a 35-year span.

I remember it so clearly that interview with Nestlé at the Long Circular Mall, 1985, with my first and one of my very best Nestlé managers, Mr. George Rampersad, Corporate Affairs Manager – May he Rest in Peace. I had heard through the grapevine that Nestlé was looking for a bilingual secretary and I was elated, for I had just spent two years in Europe learning French and Spanish after finishing a Secretarial course in Trinidad – a stipulation from my Dad who wasn’t too sure where this French and Spanish quest would take me.  On my return home 2 years prior, I secured what I thought was the perfect job at the French Embassy, a stone’s throw away from my home, as a bilingual secretary.  Shortened working hours, nice salary, nice people.  Bingo – I was set.

But as it happens, life changes, and you want more.  More challenge, more responsibility and let’s face it, more money.  But I digress.

I arrived at the Nestlé office, unannounced, and presented myself for the job.  Which I then discovered had not even been advertised – the grapevine had obviously given me a head start.  The HR Manager was a bit confused as to how I knew about the job but was kind enough to ask the hiring manager if he had a moment to chat with me.

That was my last interview in life.  A simple, who are you, what have you been doing, what are your hobbies, and a few days later I was offered the job.  I often think back on this experience and compare it to the current hiring process.  And I shake my head with a chuckle, and horror as I am not sure I would perform as well as I did back in the day.  I like to think though that Mr. Rampersad was a very intuitive man who understood clearly from our very brief conversation that I would give Nestlé the best of my years.  I was honest, hardworking and would seek their best interest until retirement do us part.

And he was right.  I gave Nestlé everything I had – my time, my brain, my energy, my passion.  And in return, Nestlé afforded me the opportunity to grow, to learn, to raise and educate 3 sons along the way, to fulfil my passions as they developed throughout my career through the areas of Consumer Services and Corporate Communications.  Giving me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many through their philanthropic activities. Develop my communication skills both verbal and written, interact with persons at all different levels of society, teaching me through experience the virtues of listening, watching and learning.  I made appearances on television and radio understanding the importance of representing my Company with a calm professionalism aligned to their values.  I was privileged to lead professionals of varying stages of their life, of all walks of life.  Nestlé’s vision for health and wellness and caring for future generations, was perfectly aligned with my own aspirations of leading a healthy and meaningful lifestyle and I truly believed that I was making a difference.  On top of that, I had the opportunity to meet people from different cultures travelling for conferences and workshops – fulfilling one of my dreams.  What more could you ask of a career with the #1 Food, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company in the world.

I was happy.  Stressed.  Frustrated.  Needed more ‘me’ time.  Exhausted.  Struggled to achieve work life harmony.  Like most people I guess. But I was also fulfilled.  I had given of my best and I was aptly rewarded both financially and emotionally.

Spending the final year of your career as Head of Communications during a pandemic, is not exactly the way I imagined it.  I imagined the closing off of some wonderful projects, the handing over of my duties in the final stages as a breeze.  That was only a dream.  But true to my commitment to Nestlé, I remained steadfast in my determination to do the best I could to ensure continued success of the organisation through my team and my successor.

At the end of it all I was ready to start my new chapter in my life.  I wanted to do what I wanted to do, with my deadlines, my objectives, my goals.  My family had grown and is still growing.  I wanted flexibility of time to enjoy the fruits of my hard work and dedication not only to Nestlé but to my family as well.  Simply put, I wanted control of my life.  Visit my grandchildren when I wanted and for as long as I wanted.  Plain and simple.

And so, I retired at the age of 60.

And after one year of much rest and introspection (Covid-inspired), I have started that new chapter with much fervour.  I have rekindled my love of reading and writing.  I am exploring many different hobbies and I am travelling as I wish to.

Do I miss working full time?


Do I miss the people I worked with?

Most definitely but I know that time permitting at their end, we can always catch up

What do I do with my days?

Whatever I want to or don’t want to do

Am I happily retired?


Do I have any goals in life?

Most certainly – to stay as focussed on the present as much as possible


My father had an insane love for his grandchildren.  They were all perfect, and in his opinion they all looked just like him.  A joke the grandchildren would share to this day.  They were all his favourite, and he told each one just that.  His patience, his gentleness, his special love was felt by each one of them.  And sometimes I wondered just who this man was. As a young child, I knew him as a disciplinarian.  You knew you were the apple of his eye, but yet still you never took the chance to be on his wrong side, and you did all you could to make sure you always did what he wanted you to do.  As an adult, you realised that everything he did was for your benefit.

So, when grandchildren came into the picture, and this guy’s face softened visibly at each birth, visit, hug, you knew that this thing called grandparenthood could change your life forever.  And it certainly has.

Living away from your children is one thing.  Living away from your grandchildren is a totally different ball game. Facetiming as often as you could, smiling from ear to ear with each babble.  And when you finally meet, losing yourself with the slip of a small hand in yours, your heart melting at the sound of your name coming from their lips, you know your life has changed forever.  It feels as if your heart will burst with love, but it only grows and expands to adapt to all the indescribable emotions that come with being a grandparent.

No one can prepare you for this.  And jokingly, I tease my children that I love my grandchildren more than I do my very own.  But it is different.  You’re at a stage of your life when you can easily shake off your adulting duties and once again experience the wonder of the world through their eyes.  Their innocence and awe of life softens you.  And you now begin to truly enjoy the simple things in life.  The beauty of a ‘baby flower’ at the side of the road.  The awesomeness of a tractor cutting grass.  The imagination of fishing with a stick and catching leaves.  The excitement of skating down the driveway laughing a belly-laugh like it’s the best thing in the world.  The deep chuckle at the sound of a stone ‘kplunking’ into the water.  The colours of a rainbow.

It’s a joy bestowed upon many.  And I’m ever so blessed to be one of them.

Are we doing a good job as parents?

It’s been quite a journey – this thing called parenthood.  Your main purpose is to raise your children to be the adults you wanted them to be – honest, hardworking, loving, gentle, strong, worthy…  You didn’t always get it perfectly right.  There were many mistakes along the way, but at no time did you give up.  At no time did you stop loving them unconditionally, for this is the foundation on which you build their dreams, their hopes, their future.  Plain and simple LOVE.

I remember quite some time ago, discussing with my dad the trials and tribulations of raising my kids.  There were so many frustrations and questions.  None of which he answered, by the way.  He never offered any sage advice. He would just sit and listen.  Nodding the knowing nod.  Shaking his head appropriately and on queue.  As if to say – ‘Well it’s your turn now.  It’s not easy, but you will get there’.

And then one day he said, quietly and unexpectedly – “You’ll know if you’ve done a good job when your kids have their own kids.  I think I did a good job.”  And he continued staring ahead at the view as we always did on his weekly visits with me.  It was enough affirmation for me, that I wasn’t doing such a bad job.

And so, as I too now watch my boys raise their own.  Watch them be the ever-present, ever-loving father, instilling in their sons, the important virtues of honesty, gentleness, love – I too feel proud.  I too believe, finally, that I really didn’t do such a bad job after all.