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

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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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow!!!!! Even though you had told me the story, reading it brought tears to my eyes. Two amazing writers in one household... how unfair for the rest of us. Keep this up. That's my vote.