If I had been teaching in the 2017-2018 school year, today would be my last day of work. Yesterday I attended the annual staff lunch (we eat KFC, Pizza, sandwiches, and cake) which is followed by a presentation in the theatre for those teachers who are moving to new places, are on temporary contracts and don’t know yet if they will be working next year and those who are retiring. This year I joined the retiring group!
It was a little different for me than for the others, who had announced the plan and have had a whole round of celebrations in the past months. I found out that I would be retiring when my Salary Continuation insurer decided that, since I was not going to be returning to work, I needed to retire under the disability clause in our pension plan. Then I got to do paperwork, get doctor’s records sent in, wait for someone somewhere to decide whether or not this would happen. I waited. Six days ago I was called to visit the district office to pick up retirement papers. In the end, we just filled them out at that time and poof…I was a retiree!
It was nice to visit the school yesterday and see my colleagues, some whom I have known for around twenty-eight years. It was strange to have people congratulating me for retiring. A year ago it was unclear if I would even be alive now and any talk of not teaching went along with expressions of sympathy.
I titled this as another transition, though I will be doing the same things I have been doing. It won’t be new to me to start next September sleeping until I want to get up, not going to work, not doing lesson plans, free to travel when I want and am able. But it does feel a bit different knowing that there will no longer be any expectation that I will return to work. No more forms with “expected date of return to work ______” on them. I will be able to say I am a retired teacher rather than say, “it’s complicated!”
None of us knows how long we will live, though a stage 4 cancer diagnosis certainly implies sooner rather than later. When we reach milestones like retirement or becoming a grandparent, our lives do change. Here’s to many more milestones for us all!