Now Or Never

CBC Radio host helps his dad get out of a retirement rut

Trevor Dineen wanted to help get his dad out of a retirement rut, so he brought him to a Men's Shed. Turns out, it's not a shed at all. It's a place where retired men go to make friends and avoid isolation.

Trevor Dineen shares what it was like bringing his father to a 'Men's Shed' for the very first time

Trevor Dineen and his father Dave Dineen (Trevor Dineen)

By Now or Never host Trevor Dineen

Do you want to play a fun game?

It's called: 'Can You Guess Where My Dad Is Right Now?', and to be clear, I specifically mean my father, Dave Dineen. I guess this game really isn't that marketable.

You're probably thinking, what a stupid game (which is true but a little rude). But actually, the game is easier than you think. My pops can be found nearly every day sitting in the basement of his house, cozied up to a nice fire, reading a book.

You see, he's retired and that reclining chair is like his Iron Throne. His feet are up. His bowl of peanuts are positioned within arms reach. And he's completely happy.

This is my dad's favourite place to be. Sitting in front of his fire, reading a good book. (Trevor Dineen)

And to be honest, I'm jealous. I don't think I can retire until 2068, which seems like some made up year in a futuristic movie, so that kind of relaxation seems more like a dream than a reality.  

But some days, I miss seeing him out with the guys, laughing and joking around and shooting the proverbial... Well... You know what I mean.

So, I thought, why not see if he'd be interested in joining a men's group and meeting other retired guys?

My mother got really excited, like Drake at a Raptors game excited. I think her exact words were:

"Take him out of the house please!," which was said more lovingly than it comes across in print.

And surprisingly, my dad was game too. But where was I going to take him? That part was simple... We were going to the Men's Shed.

Now just to be clear, it's not an actual shed, because that would be weird.

Hanging out with new friends, and learning skills. (Trevor Dineen)

Instead, the Men's Shed is like a shared version of a home workshop. The one we're visiting in Winnipeg is inside the walls of a community centre. It's a place where retired men can come together to make new friends, socialize, do some woodworking and avoid the isolation, loneliness and depression that sometimes comes with retirement.

Picture the television show Cheers, but instead of a bar with drinks there's power tools and cribbage boards.  

The whole thing started in Australia (as all great things do, like the koala) but has grown to have over 2,000 chapters around the world, with dozens set up across Canada.

As we walked up to the front doors of the building, I was nervous.

It was like this weird Freaky Friday role-reversal moment where it felt like I was dropping my dad off for his first day of school and all I wanted was for him to make friends and not have his lunch money stolen.

And it turns out, making friends is exactly what he did.

After only a few minutes, my dad was chatting away and making friends. (Trevor Dineen)

The second he walked in there, he was greeted like an old friend. A man named Fred bonded with him over similar authors they like to read. Doug talked to him about thread and needle work. Tom gave him a tour of the woodworking shop (where I think my father actually drooled). Ted showed him the walking stick he made and Dean offered to teach him everything he knows about carving.

Everyone was laughing and joking and my father was right in his element. Sitting back and watching it all, it was nice seeing him find something that a good book can never offer: camaraderie.

After a couple of hours, my dad grabbed one of the long tree branches that was lying beside the table and told everyone he would be back next week to start learning how to carve.

I was glad, because for a second, I thought he was just stealing.

My dad looking as happy as can be posing with the rest of the Men Shed members that were there that day. (Trevor Dineen)

So after shaking a few hands, and hearing "Bye Dave!" from almost everyone, we got back into the car and drove off.

My dad smiled the whole way home.

So what did I learn from being my father's friendship wingman? I think the greatest television show theme song of all time sums it up best.

(Cue the music.)

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came.

You want to be where you can see our troubles are all the same.

You want to go where everybody knows your name.


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