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A new start after 60: ‘I became a father again at 61. Imagine the joy that gives me!’ | Life and style

Jim Mason is aware of the precise second, shortly earlier than he retired, when he realised he was falling in love together with his assistant. Liz was 33 years his junior. As she climbed into the automobile someday, she turned to him and mentioned: “Come on – let’s go.” Mason doesn’t recall the place they have been heading. “It was the approach she mentioned it as if we have been a full merchandise.”

They’d labored collectively for the NHS for a number of years. “There was by no means something in it. I went in and she coped with me, and I coped along with her.” However his marriage had resulted in his mid-50s and he had “imploded in on himself” in the lonely years that adopted. He favored watercolours, and Liz favored images. They started to hang around at weekends, at first as pals; then the relationship developed.

After a whereas, Liz advised him: “I like being with you however I’ve acquired a life to steer and I would like youngsters.” Mason already had a son and a daughter, of comparable ages to Liz. “I might have bailed on the market,” he says. As an alternative, Liz moved in and, at 61, Mason became a father again.

At antenatal lessons and hospital appointments, he says, “Liz was the courageous one. She toughed it out. However I felt embarrassed … It’s a must to recognize that everybody thinks I’m Liz’s dad.” After a whereas, Mason realised that “age exists but it surely doesn’t matter. I became extra blissful and contented with me.”

On the day their first little one, Isobel, was born, Mason purchased a clock. “I keep in mind it distinctly as a result of I needed to go away her one thing.” He doesn’t know why it needed to be a clock, solely that it wanted to be in a state of disrepair and he could be the one to repair it. “I feel it’s one thing to do with new beginnings,” he muses. Every day he visits his workshop at house in Normanton, Nottinghamshire, and units his 40-odd clocks ticking. “Folks say: ‘Aren’t you ticking your life away?’ However it gives me a sense of wellbeing.”

Three years after Isobel, now 12, got here Elsie, 9 – and Mason started to find that he was a totally different form of father or mother this time round. At 73, he lives in the home the place all 4 of his youngsters have grown up, however he occupies it very in another way. “I used to stroll out in the morning and come again at night time, sizzling, drained and dusty. Now when Liz comes again from taking the children to highschool, all the things is tidied, breakfast put away.” He spends high quality time with Isobel and Elsie. “I sit and draw with them for hours – tractors, primarily. I’m right here residing it,” he says.

At work, Mason managed multimillion-pound programmes. “One factor you’ll be able to’t do is act spontaneously.” When he and Liz moved in collectively, all the things modified. “I became rather more outrageous in my lifestyle.”

He eschewed accommodations to go backpacking with Liz. He purchased a paddock. Uncommon-breed sheep adopted. (As a little one he liked visiting his uncle’s farm, additionally in Normanton.) He visited an public sale for clocks, returned with a beehive and now retains 500,000 bees. Mason says he believes in “blissful accidents” – by which he means “no plan, however one thing at the again of your thoughts”, a hankering or hope famous and saved for future motion. “The courageous individuals seize on them.”

Mason at home with one of his old clocks.
‘Folks say: “Aren’t you ticking your life away?” … Mason with one in all the 40-odd clocks he has restored. {Photograph}: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian

Has Mason’s entire persona modified, or is he giving expression to a self lengthy hidden? “I feel that’s in all probability a higher description,” he says. “I’ve come extra and extra freed from the trammels of life.”

Mason’s son, Chris, and his daughters Elaine, Isobel and Elsie “all assume they’re brother and sisters”, he says. “They won’t entertain the phrase ‘step-’.” Mason and Liz talk about the future, although he wonders if he’ll dwell to see Isobel and Elsie have youngsters of their very own. “I would get there, however who is aware of?”

In the meantime, when the automobile seems on the drive, Isobel and Elsie “rush in, the door slams, they arrive straight to seek out me and kiss me. Are you able to think about the joy that gives an outdated fogey like me?”

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