Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reitrement and Longevity

My friend Betty is retiring as Minister of Music at our church. She's been playing the organ there for over forty years, and the music program, which is absolultely glorious, is of her doing. But Betty's had lots of administrative duties, and even when we go out for an easy evening of drinks and tapas, there's an edge of harried to her--or was. With retirement just over a month away, she's begun to relax, and I see a whole new person emerging. She said tonight one of the church ladies had gathered a small group of retirees for lunch to give her advice on retirement, and she in turn let loose with some of her dreams--like owning a Hummer (they were horrified at the gas consumption, and she assured them she wasn't going to buy one, she was just feeling free to dream about it!).
I'm happy for Betty--she always said she'd know when it was time, and she says now she knows that time has come and feels good about the decision. But when people ask me, sometimes impatiently, when I'm going to retire, I simply say, "I'm not ready." I still can't imagine at this point being ready. I'm busier than ever and probably happier than ever. I don't know how many years that will last, but I'm going to take it a day--well, maybe a week--at a time.
I've been proofing a forthcoming TCU Press title, Grace & Gumption: Stories of Fort Worth Women. Fourteen writers each contributed a chapter on women important to the city's history--chapters divided according to categories and not individual women, so there were a lot of women covered. What struck me is that I kept reading that this one died at 95 and that one at 90 and another one at 93. These women, each accomplished and passionate about something in life, lived to ripe old ages. I am convinced there's a connection. No, Betty, I don't think you're dooming yourself just because you're retiring. You'll stay busy. I suspect music is like writing--you never walk totally away from it.
Jacob brought his parents to supper last night, and I had a wonderful visit with his father, who I never see now that he's working two jobs. But I realized something really fun about Jacob--he talks gibberish, with his little fist in his mouth. If I answer him in kind, with my fist across my mouth, he responds, and we have this "conversation," with him looking so delighted and pleased with himself. He'll say something and look at me as though to demand, "Okay, it's your turn!" It's like watching the beginning of communication, because he truly is communicating with me.

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