What’s my power, now that I’m eight years retired from a job I thought of as heaven — dancing with children from around the world? Who am I now that I’m closer to whatever heaven represents — an end to being me?
My mother died at 89, Dad at 81. I’m 71, wondering where’s the edge. Despite sadness that I no longer dance, I rise and shine and walk each day. I used to swim. Maybe I’ll swim again, when pandemic interruptions end.
My life is filled with “used to’s.” I used to do big holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas — food and family, stockings full, a different pattern of lights outside each year.
A few years back, I tired of turkeys. I made spaghetti for Christmas — a wonderful recipe, better for having been frozen ahead and thawed. No one complained, and I liked the ease of serving its hearty blended flavors. But still — spaghetti for Christmas dinner.
What was it we ate last year, the six of us bundled up and huddled by a stove around a card table dressed in red, underneath our deck for warmth and safety from the virus? The company was delicious. This year my son suggested Chinese duck and all its fixings. I’m on board with that.
But really, what’s my strength now that I have to straighten my knee as I rise and step out slowly?
That my days are filled to brimming, reaching out for more…
More of my grandson, 3, in tutus to match his mood as he studies the undercarriages of toy trucks and builds chassis with his Legos.
I bought a ukulele. I’m learning how to pick its strings, unlearning the way I badly played guitar when I was young. Relearning songs I used to know before I turned away to dance.
More of stepping toward things unknown.
I was sure I’d never go to sea, but we bought a boat, and we’re looking at bigger boats, as we juggle what to do about our beloved house. Its garden calls for more than I can probably give these days. It’s expanded since I retired, needing anti-erosion plantings down its western slope, a slope so steep I reach it best from around the block, through the downslope alley.
On a mission not to erode myself, I adjust. I’ve learned to tie some knots. I have confidence in my clove hitch. I fasten bumpers, drop a line on a cleat, secure us to a dock as we come in slowly. Happily, I have an excellent skipper. Once we’re secured, I walk the dock in search of seals and herons, no longer so worried that I’ll walk myself off the edge for an unplanned swim.
As I walk toward an unplanned future, I’m drawn to the awkward squawk of herons and the curiosity of seals. Decades familiar to me — the 50s, 60s, 70s — are history now. Does it give me perspective — the fact that I was born alongside the introduction of TV into every home? That I grew up watching June Cleaver manage her household in high heels and pearls?
That’s the gift — I’m well, with time to ponder.
Retired. As in finished with my active working life? Yes.
Retired. As in withdrawn and secluded? Not at all.
Just curious. What’s next?
Find more of my writing and work at https://www.megrobsonmahoney.com, where you can also subscribe to get emails if you’d like to hear about new work.