Sunday, June 8, 2008

Countdown! 10, 9, 8 . . .

Retirement is no big deal statistically speaking. Multitudes step out of the working world every year. I remember when my father retired at 63, two years earlier than typical in those days; I remember my mother's retirement party a few years later. But I don't remember either of them obsessing about ending their careers.

They just retired--with a big smile and a sigh, I might add-- then went about the rest of their lives.

So most likely I'm over thinking my imminent early-retirement at the ripe young age of 57. My husband tells me I think too much, but then for him the reverse is true.

In the car he once answered my question, "What are you thinking?" with, "Nothing. I'm driving."

Nothing? Is that even possible? He says it is.

Friday my good friends gave me a retirement party that they said was so "me." It was perfect. I enjoyed it to the fullest-- laughs, hugs, warm wishes, tears, and so much more-- and breathed a sigh of relief when I got home. It's all over but for the last ten days of school.

This morning I opened a cabinet to get out a box of cereal and there on the inside of the door hung the calendar-- my son gives me a new cat calendar every Christmas. I saw that I'd written "The End" on June 20. I don't know when or what I was feeling when I wrote it. There's no punctuation. No exclamation point, or even a question mark. There's no smiley face or sad face. Just the ambiguous "The End."

I think of the past 35 years-- longer really, because I knew I wanted to teach in first grade and moved single-mindedly toward that goal since I was six. And now in a blink . . . finis!

But the calendar doesn't end on the 20th, nor do I, and I know this as well as anybody. I picked up a red pen-- a teacher pen-- and wrote "The beginning" on June 21st!!!!! :>)

At the party I heard over and over again, "You're lucky. You have so many interests. You write. You take pictures. You'll be so busy you won't even miss this."

I want to believe them. But I know better.

~Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.~Jacques Martin Barzun


Jen said...

Funny what you'll miss too, I'll bet you'll be surprised. Maybe that quiet right before the kids fill the halls? Maybe turning around and knowing a peer is standing in your doorway, looking for you and a chat and a cup of tea? Or maybe that scribbling of pencils when someone gets an idea! And they can't stop writing until it's 'out'!

You looked terrific on Friday, in every way.


Bob Sanchez said...

You have the right attitude,'s not the end, but the beginning. I see a lot of creativity and enjoyment in your future.

That's a good new photo of yourself.

Ross Eldridge said...

Great photo! Of you, Ruth. I tell you, my teachers never looked that good.

The photos you take (I've been meaning to mention for some time) are so lovely. The irises are particularly wonderful as I watch the flowers, trees and crops growing up around me here in Northumberland in sunshine and warm weather after such a rubbish winter.

Of course, Van Gogh's irises come to mind too.

But look at all the twists and turns, wrinkles and shapes revealed by your photograph. And colours!

An artist friend of mine once painted a picture of a jar on an open window's sill, and a small American flag beside it. Perhaps in honour of Memorial Day. I believe she told me some folks in the USA call irises "flags" ... the name of her painting.

Ain't nature and art wunnerful?

Are you taking your personal things home from school gradually? Or will you pack them all into a box, bundle it into the boot of your car and roll away on 20 June?

Shine on!

Ross said...

A jar of irises.

Tere said...

I have always loved your "teacher" stories and am looking forward to hearing all you have to say in retirement.

Lisa said...

I can't even imagine how you must feel after being a successful teacher for 35 years, and now retiring, Ruth! I like that you wrote "The beginning" for June 21st. I'm so happy too that you had a wonderful party with your friends.

I love the playground reflection, and your lovely new buddy icon! You look fantastic! I hope you enjoy your time left at school.

sc morgan said...

Ah, Ruth. This is a beginning and an end-- like all transitions, isn't it? This post is so poignant and I know there will be things you will miss. They will probably catch you by surprise. But that's why you are a writer; it will give you something to write about.

And here's one for Bruce:

Once, a long, long time ago my mother lay awake worrying and my father finally asked, "What are you thinking about?"

To which my mother replied, "Time and money, what else is there?"

I wish you both in your retirement.

Bon voyage and bien viaje on the next leg of the journey, and please stay in touch...

leslie said...

Gee, before I even read that you'd written in "the beginning" on the 21st, I was thinking it's just a new beginning. I retired at age 58 and the days are always so full and I don't know how I ever got anything done when I was teaching! I have another friend who's retiring this year and I'm going to her party on the 13th. We always used to say we'd drive our little motorized wheel chairs out to UBC to take free courses when we became seniors. But seniors today are too busy having fun to even think of themselves as such! You're going to have to get used to it, but you will love it. As you say, just another beginning! Best wishes and Congratulations to you on completing 35 years.

By the way, I was the same way in that when I started grade 1, I decided I wanted to be a teacher, and voila! I was! and still am with the tutoring I do. :D

leslie said...

By the way, I love your new photo!

Carter said...

I have things in mind for you if you get bored. :-)

And the new picture is wonderful! Glamour girl retires.

Wanda said...

Hi Ruth: I just think I posted something ~~ it just dissapeared. So I'll try again.

I loved the way you shared your retirement story. It's really a very exciting time of life. I had people say the same to me about having lots of interests ~~ but I do miss my church, my Bible Studies,and the people I had been with so long ~~~ But I'm also loving our new retired life.

I wish you the best of everything in your retirement. I will, like Tere miss your teaching stories. They are all wonderful.

Dave said...

Retirement a new journey for you. How exciting. You are correct, this is a begining. I am so glad that you wrote that in red so that it will remind you that the game has changed a litte but you are still a vibrant player. Have fun with this let us know some of the turns and bends that occur on this differnt road.

karna said...

I hope you'll expand this piece and send it out. It's wonderful.

Alice Folkart said...

Ruth - duck! here it comes! Oh, you're going to love it after you quit shaking. A teacher, a good teach, which is what it sounds like you are, is a creator, the most creative of people, you've been building humans, tuning them up, adjusting them, priming their pumps, opening their eyes, then, sending them out to become. I suspect that you'll still be doing that, with yourself and others in retirement. I've been retired for a year and a half and I still have not started a day saying, "So, what shall I do today?" What a wonderful beginning!


Pauline said...

Have fun! (It's my motto)

There will surely be things you miss but think of all the plusses - no early morning alarm clock, no more teacher meetings, no icy drives, no more refereeing squabbles. I have four more years (and yes, I'm counting!) before I can retire. I'll remember to write "The Beginning!" on my calendar the day after :)

Ruth D~ said...

You know? I love these comments.

Jen~ Thanks, and so did you. Wish we got more time to chat.

Bob, Thank you, too. And it looks like you've got yourself a new pic, although I'll always be partial to the squint into the sun look.

Ross~ Yes, irises are called flags. Love your unique observations. You should have a blog, but . . . hmmmm? Have I said that before?

Leslie~ You're a role model.

Carter~ I'll be a little afraid to say, "I bored." I know how you can crack that whip!

Pauline~ No alarm clock just sold me. I think I'll have a ceremonial burial for it.

Wanda~ If anyone knows, you do. You're still new to the whole business.

Dave~ Turns and bends sounds exciting. Just around the corner . . . you never know what's there.

Karna~ Never would have thought that, but . . . when I retire:>) maybe I will.

Alicew~ Not to mention you retired and moved to Paradise!

PapaDunes said...

Congratulations RD.

Next thing to do:
Read the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Quoheleth after a very remarkable and extremely full working life. See if you can figure out what he's up to in writing it.

Ruth D~ said...

Hey, PapaD! :>) When I think Ecclesiastes, I think . . . to every thing there is a season . . . but I'm thinking you're pointing me to something else. I'll see.

Rick Bylina said...

First photo; first thing written; first splash in the water; first time running naked through the woods. They'll all distract you away from teaching. One day, you'll see a school bus chugging down the road, a toilet paper roll will come flinging out hitting your car window. Ah, memories. Glad I'm on my way to a writing conference in New Berlin, NH.

Happy New Adventures.

Ruth D~ said...

Rick~ Don't be so sure about those firsts. ;>)

Belladonna said...

I am practically salivating looking forward to the writing you will do ...your gift with words is simply stunning. Many blessings to you as you embark on this new transition!