If I had been teaching through the 2017-18 school year, today would have been my last day of work before summer. I wasn’t teaching though, so it is just another day. Or is it?
Yesterday I attended the annual staff luncheon at the school. We order in mostly unhealthy foods and a cake. After the lunch, we all move down to the theatre for some presentations like skits and songs in honour of the retirees, gifts, and goodbyes for those who don’t know yet if they will be teaching next year due to short-term contracts or who are moving to a new teaching position. Yesterday was the same as always, but this year I was one of the people retiring.
My retirement is a little different than the others because it was my Salary Continuation company who decided I was retiring. When it became clear that I would not be returning to work, they required that I put in for the disability form of the teachers’ pension plan. Guess what that meant! Yes, indeed, forms to fill in, doctor’s records to gather, and then waiting for someone somewhere to decide my fate. Seven days ago I got a letter saying I was approved, the next day I got a call from the district to come for forms. We filled the forms out in the office and…poof…I was a retiree!
My retiring colleagues, if they chose to let folks know ahead, have had a few months of celebrations at various levels. They also have been clearing out their classrooms, which I did last year. It was nice to visit yesterday with my colleagues, some of whom I have known for up to 28 years. It was fun to listen to songs and skits about some of my fellow retirees! It was amazing to participate in the receiving line and get handshakes or hugs from everyone and to hear congratulations.
So is this really a transition for me? After all, I have been at home/not working for most of two school years. In some ways, it is no transition. September without meeting and learning names of up to 120 new students, done that! Sleeping in most days until I want to get up, done that! Able to travel when I want and am able, done that! But it does feel a little different today. I know that when I meet someone I can say that I am a retired teacher, rather than telling them that it is complicated.
None of us know when we will die, though with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis it is likely sooner rather than later. We can all celebrate each milestone we reach and decide how they will refocus our view of life. I have many good memories of all those years of teaching which are easier to think about with things settled. My focus is fully ahead, what milestone will be next?