I retired 56 days ago. And on Thursday of this coming week, I'm returning to work!
Some people are meant to be retired ... others aren't. You know the ones I mean. You read about them in the paper and see them on "60 Minutes." They're 90 years old and still pushing the broom around the clothing factory that they started working at when they were 14. I’m working to determine which group I fall into (I've never been partial to pushing brooms.)
I'm not going back to full time work, and I'm not going back to my old job. I've been asked to come back as a contractor - you know "the temp." I'll be assisting the same law department I worked in for 13 1/2 years, working on various projects, picking my own days and hours. Not bad, huh?
Most of our friends are retired. I was one of the last to "hang it up" and got a lot of flak from all the retired friends about "finally" seeing the light and realizing that there was more to life than just working. They even gave me a hard time the first few weeks because I was getting up "too early." Apparently, there's an art to retirement ... and hanging out in bed, rolling over and catching a few more minutes under the sheets is all part of it. I was breaking those rules by getting up when I woke up (gasp)!
My retirement decision was helped along by a number of things: the sudden, unexpected death of my oldest brother (18 months my senior) and both of my in-laws (within 16 days of each other); a 50-year old colleague's brain tumor; my husband's prostate cancer diagnosis; and the offering of an early retirement package from my company to all employees over 60 (ouch!). So while I loved my job and the people I worked with, I did get the message that maybe there was a little more out there to round out life.
I've had 2 months of not working outside the home. My laundry is all caught up ... toilets sparkle ... I've golfed a couple of extra times ... I've run to the library and the store on a whim ... I've learned what a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is (amazing!) ... I've spent time visiting and assisting my 92-year old mother ... I've attended a few of the grandkids' baseball games .. I've cooked more in the last 2 months than I have in the last 2 years ... I've taken a great 2-week roadtrip with my husband to the southeastern part of the country ... I've even weeded the garden! That's a lot to have accomplished in the last 56 days. And it's been great. So, why, you might ask, am I going back to work?
I'm not totally sure. It sounded like a good idea when I agreed to consider it as I was walking out the door 56 days ago. "Call me" I said airily. And they did.
Basically, I think I need to use my brain a bit more than I have in the last 60 days. Obviously, we use our brains in everything we do, but I know those brain cells can find answers to questions a bit more complicated than "how should I fix the chicken tonight?"
My calendar is already pencilled in with dates I made when I assumed I was going to be retired full-time. And I know I won't give those plans up (volunteering at the library; golf; assistance to my oldest daughter when our grandson, Danny, has surgery July 11; casino trips, etc.), so I'm already seeing the tension between exercising my brain and exercising my playful side. My husband and I are talking about a trip to Wisconsin's Door County later this summer; we've said yes to a few days in Chicago in August to attend a "return-to-health" celebration honoring my brother, Patrick; and are considering a trip to California to celebrate 46 years of marriage in October. And NO WAY will I get up at 5:00 a.m. again, as I did for the last 13 years. That was one of the MAIN reasons why retirement sounded so good when I started considering it.
We’ll see how it goes ... I’m looking forward to returning to the office environment where I’m so comfortable .. to congenial colleagues ... to a company with a mission I truly believe in. But I also realize I will not be returning to what is “my” job ... I will be “the temp.” Fortunately, I know a lot of people, so at least I won't have to face the worst part of the day for all temps ... eating lunch alone while looking as if that was my plan all along!
I also know that I will be just like the kids in school on the first nice day that I'm caught working. Look for my face pressed against the glass of the window overlooking 694. I'll be the one thinking about the golf course or even the weeds in the garden ... and wondering if I should have had myself committed for saying yes to this.
I may have made the official decision to retire last February, but I’m pretty sure I’m now going to have to make my real decision. I'll keep you posted.