Now that school is back in session and here I am, out and about, the question often comes up from folks around town. (What are you doing in the Main Café at 10:30 in the morning???Enjoying the best coffee in town) (How come I bump into you at Kroger’s during the school day? Meeting all sorts of new people)
It sinks in quickly that I am not at school, even though students saw my name when they picked up their schedules. Several….I have only a few…Facebook friends ‘messaged’ me, all excited that I was, in fact, going to be their teacher. Then I told them that, alas, I was taking a leave of absence.
During Mike’s illness, he wanted me at school, living as normal life as possible. And that worked well until this last semester. Then, school became tough for me. Mike’s illness started to really take the toll in January so I needed more energy and brain capacity that I possessed. It became hard to sleep when I should; meals and snacks became ‘grab and go.’ His weight dropped as his pain increased. We saw the writing on the wall. I knew that when his illness ended, I would need a break. I knew I would take a break.
I figured I’d just retire, even though every smart source says that someone like me should make no major decisions for a year. I had it in my PLAN FOLDER that when Mike’s illness ended, so would my career as a teacher. I hoped, I prayed, that I could leave as I had wished, still near the top of my game, still loving the kids with which I worked, still with a twinge of ‘missing it.’
A kind lady at the Administration Building explained to me that if I just quit, a portion of my money would ‘just go away.’ And as my financial guy keeps repeating, as I think he is concerned that I won’t remember, “You need to get everything you have coming to you.” (He also reminds me and repeats that I should SIGN NOTHING unless he is by my side.)
And, now that I’ve committed these to ink (sic), I won’t forget.
It seems that there is a proper window for retirement. I believe it opens in March. At that time, I can make my final decision.
As for school, I’m missing them but not it. Within the walls of my classroom, I have enjoyed the best job in the world. I get to build relationships with 17-year-olds, mostly, and encourage them to learn, practice, refine, and demonstrate what they know. Once we understand how it’s going to be, they emerge as delightful individuals, most with history, a little drama, and much humor in their lives.
I’m not sure, nor do I need to pursue: I see that God has gifted me in this area. Should the retirement idea become the plan, I know that He will open up other opportunities to me.
For now, I am working on closing out the house in Kokomo for a permanent move to the cottage in Winona Lake. Mike and I had been planning to downsize as our house is way too big for two. Then, he got sick and that idea was placed on a back burner. THEN, during his illness, we’ve had 4 (or 5?)
major disasters at the cottage, including a leak that damaged the foundation and a tree to the roof.
Over these years, our home owner’s insurance has helped us create a new home…new roof, new heating/air, new foundation, some new windows. It is clearly a gift, one that Mike will not enjoy. God whispered that this is where I will make my home base.
And, by the way, our very patient home owner’s insurance sent us in search of a different company. Who could blame them?
The cottage is a much smaller place so part of my work involves sorting, discarding or gifting, and making decisions. I have an army of friends who offer to help but right now, I need to make these choices slowly and thoughtfully. When faced with indecision, God points to the best answer.
For example, Mike was a reader. A voracious reader. A varied reader. On any shopping trip, we always ended up in a bookstore and he usually left with a book. So, I have shelves lined with wonderful books and various topics. As mentioned earlier, I have many CDs, also. I can toss the CDs when I need to. Throwing out a book is another thing entirely. It would hurt. I would pain me, no matter the topic. Will I read them? I will not. Our bookshelves demonstrated our differences.
I called our local library, certain that they get bombarded with books whenever someone dies. Silly me, I assumed that everybody has rooms and rooms of books. The head librarian told me that I can bring her all of Mike’s books and The Friends of the Library will sell them on EBay. I’ll even get a credit. (Financial guy smiles)
Then, last week, I attended a Leadership Conference and ran into an old friend, former teacher, a mother of the guy who started a unique private prep school in town. Teacher to teacher, I mentioned how I was going to dispose of the books.
She smiled and asked, “Could Acacia teachers look at them first?”
So, I’m happy about the books.
Kokomo Schools started on August 6.
My grandsons’ school starts on August 26. (WHATEVER happened to 'after Labor Day'??)So, I wanted to take them on a trip before school. We just returned from several days at Niagara Falls. It was a hit. You can’t best Mother Nature.
So, what am I doing? Right now, I have a task. I’ve penciled in April to close the house. I usually give myself ample time and I think I have done so. In between sorting, I’m taking a few road trips to visit friends and moving prized possessions to the cottage.
Also, I am setting aside a scheduled time, every day, to write. You may not see any of that product, but it will be my exercise in moving along.
Speaking of exercise, yes. Regularly. A must. Ivy and I are getting back in shape.