When I last wrote about retiring, I had left my job of working with troubled kids and their families and was about six months into ‘retirement.’
Now it’s been three (or is it four?) years. And things seem quite different.
As I look back, I only partially retired. Actually, I largely exchanged my ‘care taking’ at my school for care taking of my 90+ year old dad and also for helping out with the first year or so of my grand son’s life. Those were much narrower focuses but basically not so different from what I had been doing for most of my professional life.
Now with my father gone (died July 4, 2011) and Eli three and his sister Abby one year old today (11-11-11), I find I am truly released from the daily responsibilities of care taking.
And it’s wonderful.
My days are filled, tho not always with the same activities each day. This website seems to serve as a focus for many of my interests as I have plenty of time to ‘pursue’ family and friends, escapes and pleasures, the Sox (and now the Nats too), and what is going on in the world around me. And it gives me a shot at the other major interest I had growing up and considered as a possible career – reporting and writing.
I have time to travel, to join my wife Ellen on many of her speaking trips around the country and around the world. And I don’t have to worry about being called back to DC part way through a trip. There’s lots of time to read, to see films, to spend a few leisure hours with a wide variety of friends and family, and especially to say “Yes,” when someone calls or emails and suggests coffee, a meal, an event, or even a trip. And, a bit surprisingly, I find I am enjoying initiating some of those calls or emails myself.
And I’ve had the time to carefully monitor the planning and redoing of our kitchen, sun porch, library, and gardens. It’s amazing how much time I can spend just watching the workmen deconstruct and then reconstruct. Sometimes it feels as if we have a new house. And, I have a new car, which I absolutely love, after 14 years of having the oldest car in the family.
I haven’t forgotten the kids and grand kids. It takes about the same time to get to Miami (by air) as it did to get to NYC by train to visit my younger daughter. And the elder one amazingly lives just about a mile away. So I can keep up (sometimes) with the growing grand kids and even help out with school pickups and visits to the parks. One of the unexpected wonderful things I’m finding about having the grand kids so close is the pleasure of watching their parents parent. I‘ve read and heard a lot about grand parenting but not so much about watching one’s own kids be parents. What a treat that is.
And the activity that I thought would be the organizing focus of my life after leaving the school, the foundation that we had set up and planned to operate to do some good in the world is making some grants. But so far, it has only been a small part of my activities. I suspect that in the next several years, the four of us, the remaining founders of The Frost School and The Family Foundation, will turn more actively to how we can use our funds to make some differences in peoples’ lives, both here and abroad.
Before I retired from the main work of my professional life, I use to think, smugly, that unlike my friends who had already left their work, I would not spend my retirement trying to ‘stay relevant’ (by serving on boards, consulting, teaching, etc.).
How foolish that thought.
Of course I want to stay relevant, even if I’m not totally sure what that means. I want to know if folks are visiting and reading MillersTime. I want to be part of my children’s and grand children’s lives and even have some impact upon them and be available to them. I want to use the funds we put aside all those years at the school (‘rainy day funds’) to do some more good in the world, even if I’m not yet sure exactly what form that will take. I want to maintain and deepen the friendships of the good folks I have come to know over the last 60+ years. And I want both to see parts of the country and world where I’ve never been and to return to parts that I love. And there’s always the books. So many wonderful things to read.
One of the great gifts my father gave me (in addition to the love of books, music, and family) was his belief/teaching that ‘there’s a time to leave the party.’ For me, leaving the day to day intensity of the 45 years of my teaching, counseling, and running a school, even though I had something left to give there and before I might have otherwise done so, has proven to be wonderful and a good choice.
Not only did I have the final three years of being with my dad, but I have time and energy to pursue all those other interests that are different than the care taking ones.