Finally, retirement – the time and freedom to do what we choose. I had no idea how much fun it could be to cut the work cord and step into summer adventure. Just like the kids, I’m disappointed my first summer of retirement is almost over. But I stand with a quip I saw on Facebook:
“You spiced pumpkin latte fans? Back off. We’ve got a few weeks left.”
Growing up, summer was all about helping with farm chores, showing pigs at the county fair and riding bareback with my sister. We relived it this summer when her grand boys enjoyed their first year showing horses and cattle at the 4-H Fair.
When it ended, she shared what the youngest said: “I miss the smell of fair.” Believe me, nothing smells like a cattle barn in 90 degree heat. It brought back a noseful of childhood memories.
I did finish Where the Crawdads Sing before the movie release, but I’d planned to read a lot more this summer. Then an even better opportunity came up: a Dive into Readingprogram for kids who needed a boost into the next grade. Hands down, this is the most rewarding of my summer experiences. We met weekly at a local restaurant for breakfast and reading.
The first day the school bus pulled up, I met my two spunky second-going-into-third graders who taught me more about mermaid power than my own imagination could ever muster. I also learned you can never put too much syrup on a single pancake and, yes, we still cry over spilled milk.
The volunteers all agreed we get more out of it than the kids. I don’t have children of my own, so the chance to connect across generations is enlightening. The most important thing I learned is this:
Until third grade, we learn to read. After third grade, we read to learn.
Wow. If a kid misses that transition, she could be stunted for the rest of her life. Wow.
If there’s one thing I miss in retirement, it’s my co-workers. I was lucky in my 60s to change direction and fall into an unexpected circle of support. My new real estate brokerage became my tribe – through sickness and health, good times and bad, pandemic or otherwise. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to retire after receiving the “Spirit Award” at last year’s Christmas banquet. It’s hard to put down the pom poms.
Praise the Lord, they haven’t forgotten me. They took us all out to the ballgame! What fun to sit with everyone in the sky box, eating hot dogs and getting sunburned. But I saw them working while I chilled.
When I was grabbing another beer, Jane was on the phone with the title company. Dick was reviewing a document with a client getting cold feet. Sally was arranging a tour of showings. I was so grateful for retirement by the seventh inning stretch, I ate another hot dog.
My college roommate and I fiddled with our flutes back in the 70s before packing them away for the next 40 years. When I pulled mine out of storage and started playing again in my 60s, so did she. We are members of a terrific study group called LearnFluteOnline.com.
Speaking of summer fun, how about this rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with fellow flutists from all over the world?
Playing music with a group is what I missed most during the pandemic, but an instrument to practice was a blessing. I gained enough confidence to join our community concert band last year. We gather to rehearse weekly at the local college, and last night we took the stage for our summer pops concert.
Beatles, Chicago, Stevie, Eagles, Queen, Elvis… The music is the most fun I’ve ever played. Well, since high school when it was first popular.
What I miss most about school days was the fresh start every term – something we don’t get very often in real life. Retirement feels like the best fresh start of all. We have so much choice in what we do and learn. The important thing is to keep on doing and learning. Forever. Back to school season is a good time to plan for the year ahead. I love starting a new 18-month calendar book at the end of summer.
Knowing my workhorse PC was limping her last mile, I took advantage of back to school sales and tax free holidays to shop a new machine. While I feared the learning curve, I settled on a MacBook. Within an hour of its delivery, I was standing in line to face the Geek Squad. The teenager assisting me had the patience of a grandmother. My new machine and I are making baby steps, but it still has a lot to teach me.
Back to school is a good time for all of us to knuckle down where we’ve procrastinated. I’ve got a continuing education deadline fast approaching. Good thing summer fun is winding down. Plus, I’m far behind on home chores. The dining room desperately needs paint. Boxes of light fixtures waiting to be installed have been in the living room so long, they’ve become end tables.
But it can all wait until the end of dog days and patriotic holidays. I’m savoring this first summer of retirement until the last streetlight comes on.
Is retirement different from you than what you imagined it would be? What have you involved yourself with since you retired? What activities do you most enjoy now? Do you miss your working days? School days? What do you miss most about them?