It has been almost a decade since my husband, Paddy Gregg, died leaving me to navigate life in a suddenly lonely and uncertain world. I remember the blur of demands that followed his death and the many decisions that had to be made about the funeral, insurance, taxes and so on. But one thing I was sure about when I picked up the form in a package of documents from CBC — I would join the CBC Pensioners’ Association and become what is somewhat awkwardly termed “a surviving spouse.” I saw in that association the potential for solace, companionship and assistance. It’s a decision I have never regretted and my involvement with the association has only become more important to me over time.
I worked briefly for the CBC myself many years ago, in the 1970s. I spent most of my career in journalism with The Canadian Press, as a correspondent based in Fredericton. That’s where I met Paddy in 1979. He had returned to his hometown with hopes of early retirement after working in various positions with the CBC over the years, including as a national and international TV reporter. I grew up in Halifax and Paddy was something of a household name back in the 1960s and 70s along with the stars of shows like Gazette and Singalong Jubilee. I came from a family of animal lovers, so Paddy’s hunting and fishing show, Sportsman’s Almanac, was routinely the subject of condemnation at our dinner table. Fortunately for Paddy, the most outraged family members had gone to their rewards by the time we married in 1980.
That almost life-long association with the CBC meant something to me when I received the pensioner’s association membership form and decided to join as a surviving spouse. For one thing, I knew a significant portion of my retirement income would come from the survivor’s benefit and I wanted to keep an eye on what was happening with the CBC pension fund, especially the disposition of future surpluses. I’ve always believed in the importance of people standing together and presenting a united front to the powers-that-be because, let’s face it, you really can’t trust them to act in our best interests. I strongly believe an organized group like the pensioners’ association can best represent the needs and interests of its members, and we are seeing that in the current issues surrounding surplus sharing.
Also, and perhaps even more importantly, there are the social links for people who shared a common experience in their labours for, and associations with, the CBC. I’m at a disadvantage living in Fredericton because we do not yet have a chapter of the pensioner’s association, but we are working on getting one started for members in the capital region and Saint John. The chapters are great vehicles for helping people stay in touch and have fun with dinners, outings and other special events. Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in becoming involved in the proposed western New Brunswick chapter.
And please remember, surviving spouses are an important part of the pensioner’s association and are valued members who help keep our numbers strong and our voices united.