Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

A New Week

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while but I spent the weekend at my sister’s house while she and my brother-in-law went to a spa resort as a celebration of my sister’s 50th birthday (which is actually on the 25th). My mom lives with my sister and so, when they travel out of town, I spend the time with my mom and their dog Amber while my husband stays home alone. Their children spent the two nights with their friends so my mom and I could enjoy a relatively peaceful weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece (12) and nephew (nearly 10) but my husband and I live a “child-free” existence for a reason and so it was best to have the kids stay with their friends.

I am so glad last week is over. Sadly, my library friend Phyllis passed away after being removed from life support in Hawaii. Her body is being flown back to Arkansas and she will be laid to rest near her parents. The Library is planning a memorial service for her and I hope I will be able to attend. Also last week, my cousin emailed me with the news that her friend’s granddaughter Kylie passed away after a long battle with cystic fibrosis. We’ve been following Kylie’s fight for many years and it pains me to know that someone so young is no longer with us.

I was hoping this week would be uneventful and peaceful but, so far, it’s been far from calm and it’s only Monday. This afternoon we found water on the floor of our service porch when we got home. My husband’s detective work has revealed that a drain pipe is overflowing rather than a pipe leaking so it means a clog somewhere in the system, most probably involving our kitchen sink. We called our plumber of many years and learned that he now works as a plumber for a local university and does private jobs as time permits. This means he won’t be able to come out until Wednesday morning. Oh well…I guess I can always wash our dishes in the bathroom sink until then. I remember now why I’ve been trying to talk my nephew into becoming a doctor or a plumber...we already have a lawyer in the family.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Retirement and Mortality

When I retired in 2004, a friend who worked at the same library decided to retire on the very same day. During the time leading up to our “big” day, we talked constantly about our plans for life after retirement. She had great plans to spend valuable time with her grandchildren, to travel, to enjoy life with her many friends. Unfortunately that was not to be. Shortly after our retirement, she began to suffer from a series of illnesses which eventually took her life this past August. Her passing was painful for all of us (family and friends) and many of us felt a sense of anger and sadness that she was denied an opportunity to enjoy life after her years of work.

Now this week, the issue of retirement and mortality has once again surfaced with the news that someone from my library life is hospitalized in critical condition. This person was a system coordinator when we met and, during my days at Library Headquarters in the early 1990’s, she and I had adjacent cubicles. Working late into the evening, we would chat about work, life and people we knew. Although never close, our paths would cross on occasion and she always greeted me as a friend. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, I knew her strength of will would carry her through her treatment and it did. When she retired from the Library last year as an Administrator, I wished her well and welcomed her into the world of retirement.

Now she is critically ill. When she retired, she expressed a desire to help the Library with its librarian recruitment efforts. On a recruitment trip to Hawaii for the Library Department this past week, she suffered a massive heart attack and is on life support. I have been told it took quite some effort to resuscitate her and that she was deprived of oxygen for some time. I am devastated. Only a few weeks ago, I bumped into her at a local amusement park. She was sitting on a bench enjoying the beautiful weather and I stopped to say “hi.” She asked me what I was doing there and I told her I was “playing at being retired.” She laughed and said she was doing the same. Now instead of enjoying the world, she lays in a hospital bed surrounded by equipment helping her hang on to life. I pray that she defies all odds and can once again enjoy all the things she planned for her life after retirement.

Monday, November 13, 2006

So why…?

So why “The Erstwhile Librarian?” Let me take the “Librarian” part first. In the mid 1970’s, I was a recently graduated English major desperately looking for a career. Tired of the interview question, “How fast do you type,” it was easy to say “yes” when a friend asked me if I wanted to attend Library school with her. Although my love of libraries began as a child when I first read the book "Rosa-Too-Little" in which a little girl spends all summer learning to write her name so she could get a library card, it never dawned on me to even consider becoming a librarian…not even when I worked in my high school library for a wonderful librarian, whose name was coincidently Marian. But at the moment when my friend called with her suggestion, I jumped at the idea. I slogged my way through school and, after graduating, I accepted a Children’s Librarian position (which I thought would be a two year stint just to gain experience) with a major metropolitan public library in one of the many branch libraries. That two year stint became a 26 year career with the Library, serving as Children’s Librarian, Audio-visual Librarian, Reference Librarian, Staff Development Specialist, and finally as “Lead Reference Librarian” at one of the larger community libraries. Never a community library manager (by choice), I spent most of my years in direct public service, watching our patrons (now “customers”) change as the world changed.

Now for the “Erstwhile” part. The definition of that word is “former (Archaic)” and that fits me perfectly. I’m not sure when I began thinking about retiring. As my husband’s retirement plans took form, I began to wonder if it was my time as well. Was I becoming “archaic”…ancient, old-fashioned? Although I’d easily integrated technology into my life as a librarian, I began to have serious concerns about the direction the Library was taking in terms of moving away from the concept of “community library” and towards a more “centralized” philosophy. I valued the notion of “small town library” even as the community around me was expanding and becoming less personalized. Suddenly, patrons rushed in and out, no longer having the time to sit and chat, no longer making their library visits an integral part of their daily lives. We were now just another stop on a long list of chores to be done. And so in 2004, I made the decision to retire. On my last day, I walked out of the library and never looked back. I kept waiting for the tears to come but none did. I’d made the right decision at the right time.