For 8 years now, after my first supposed retirement, folks have been asking me why I’m still teaching full time. It didn’t start out that way. I took 3 months to socialize and sleep in late. Then I responded to tutoring requests, started providing homebound instruction for a local district, and eventually filled my days and evenings with delightful teaching and planning. End of retirement #1.
Midway through that retirement, my long-suffering teaching widower wondered if I would ever have time for him. So I shed most of my tutoring caseload and started on retirement #2. That lasted about 3 months and I was back at my full-time pace.
In March of this year, I announced my 3rd retirement to coincide with my teaching widower’s imminent retirement. Will this one last? I have the hat and flowers, the perfect equivalent of a gold watch. We’ll see. I already have students in the wings….
Like Mother’s Day, this holiday was long a source of anguish for me. Growing up in an abusive home, my Hallmark greeting would have read, “How much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways!”
Over time and much healing, a lot of it from the hands of my dearest teaching widower, I have come to endure these celebrations and rejoice with others who have had a different path. After today, I have a joyous and unique new memory: my dearest widower winning a smoker at church!
I laughed because we typically never win anything. And we have been trying to decide whether to continue our movie group in the fall. I think this is a sign: Movies and a Smoker. Who would have guessed? The One who loves us and constantly surprises us with many good things. A Father who is worth celebrating every day!
My dearest teaching widower is gone for the week and left me a supply of partially opened water bottles! With my right arm being incapacitated right now, this was such a loving surprise! It’s also so typical of him to think about what I might need. Fifty years of love!
I have been a terribly sporadic visitor to the Ten Things of Thankful blog, but every time I go, I’m rewarded by the words, photos, and humor from such encouraging folks. It’s a great place to share gems of thankfulness.
Gem #1: My dearest teaching widower remains at the top of my list. His tech skills are sometimes clumsy but always endearing. I got him a Fitbit for his birthday and it’s already destroyed! I think his inner distrust of all things tech has created some kind of deadly force field. He’s a powerhouse when searching the web, though! (See #4.)
Gem #2: The patient families of the kiddos I teach, who must wonder if my body is falling apart. Yes, it is.
Gem #3: The Bible in One Year 2019 devotional by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. They are an amazing couple, perhaps best known for developing Alpha courses. OK, I am now 42 days behind in reading, but onward, ever onward!
Gem #4: Thanks to Cee’s inspiration and support, I have a REAL camera! It was a delightful Christmas present, heavily-researched by my dearest widower (see #1). I haven’t used it much but I look forward to the day….
Gem #5: Cadbury’s milk chocolate, which remains sweet and silky and mood-changing.
Gem #6: Faithful followers of my blog, despite my erratic posting. Thank you!!!!!!!!
Gem #7: Suzie’s kind support and encouragement. Check out her amazing blog (Suzie Speaks), her cat’s bottom, and her new job!
Gem #8: My own Fitbit, a birthday present from my fam. Fitbit and I love each other. It purrs on my wrist. It cheers me on, even as I feel like body parts will soon start dropping off.
Gem #9: Amazon Prime wardrobe, which means I never have to expose my feet to strangers again. No one fainting in horror at a shoe store.
Gem #10: A physical therapist who reminded me to be thankful I have feet (even if you can find them by googling “ugliest feet in the world”). That PT works with folks who have prosthetic feet and they would give anything for my ugly feet.
Freebie: Don’t search for ugliest feet in the world.
My dearest teaching widower had to develop patience and an extraordinary listening ear when I took my first teaching job. Mostly unprepared but wildly enthusiastic at age 18, I taught a summer Head Start class. I was a bit concerned about crowd control but my biggest challenge turned out to be the teaching assistant assigned to my room.
My assistant’s surname created an unfortunate rhyme, but I could live with that. I’ll call her Mrs. Horse for this post. She was probably 100 years older than me (yes, I was afflicted with ageism) and spent the day huddled in a corner, hacking her lungs out. Oddly, Mrs. Horse was also tethered to an empty cola bottle.
I started to get suspicious of Mrs. Horse’s hacking when she repeatedly schlepped off attempts to deliver her TB test results. I began to appreciate her distance from the class, although she still gave me the evil eye on those infrequent occasions when I caught her attention. But the killer was how her cola bottle slowly filled up throughout the day, instead of being drained. It wasn’t too long before I caught Mrs. Horse in the act of filling that bottle. Yuck.
Mrs. Horse was gone after a loooong three weeks. My dearest teaching widower had to reassure me that TB is not that contagious and she was far away from me most of the time. I survived and my widower gained much-needed practice for the future.
Argh. We used the wrong paint so I am repainting the family room AGAIN. I was hoping to keep my blogging streak intact, but duty calls. And my dearest teaching widower. I know it’s going to be gorgeous and I get to listen to my worship music unimpeded! Win-win.
Using personal leave days (or PTO or whatever you call it) makes me feel guilty. I know I shouldn’t feel that way but there it is. I have two doctor appointments, both scheduled during my work times and that was the best I could do. Why I feel guilty might be another post. Might be.
The upside is that I get a peek into what my dearest teaching widower does when I am not here. Typically, he is responsible for being home when we have maintenance issues. Today, we are having the sunroom heat pump replaced. It broke several years ago and we are finally making the sunroom a warm place!
The other “interesting” news is that the company installing this new heat pump noticed that one of our main heat pumps is broken. Hmm. We just had it inspected two weeks ago and it was supposedly fine, so my widower is dealing with that conundrum. I’m really glad I don’t stay home very often.
I am not griping. I am actually grateful. My dearest teaching widower handled a difficult situation (and me) with grace and patience.
Last summer, my widower and I were faced with a series of unfortunate leaks and flooring disasters. Most of our house was refloored and areas were recarpeted. The home improvement store left us with an unimproved carpeting situation in August. They had previously installed new carpet on the stairs, but then we had all the upstairs carpeting removed and replaced with laminate. It was only after the crew left (past midnight) that we saw the coyote pelt at the top.
See that raggedy strip of carpet? That is a piece of 32-year-old carpet that they had ripped out! They replaced the brand new carpet with a strip of our old pelt. Seriously! I could not look at the stairs without seeing that dingy pelt fastened just below the landing. I frothed at the mouth every time I went near the stairs.
My widower read the signs of impending hysterical phone calls and said he would deal with the company. LAST WEEK, they replaced the coyote pelt. I asked him to snap a picture of it before it was repaired.
Am I happy about it? Not completely. It still looks jagged, even though it’s new carpet. But my dearest widower spared me months of saying things I would have regretted, of potential lawsuits, and tons of repentance. A raggedy edge pales in comparison to that! He knows that harsh words would stir up more than a messed up strip of carpet.
Preparing to paint the family room has become a full-time occupation for me and my dearest teaching widower. It may lead to murder because I am sick of trying to decide what looks best and have no sense of color, anyway. Family, friends, and anyone who dares to enter our house are quizzed on their preferences, too. I think I saw my widower chatting with the UPS driver.
My dearest widower is offering a prize to the reader who can identify the paint color “Modern History” in the photo below. I think he likes that color best for our walls, but that’s a perpetually changing preference. Not sure what the prize is, but let me know if you can find it and I’ll do something for you. Maybe I’ll paint your family room.
We’re already on our second print for the main wall (we ordered a small version to check out the colors). I like this one of Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite because we once hiked to the top of the falls. I thought we were going to tumble to our deaths because the rocks were so slick with water and moss. We made it then, but our relationship has hit more rocky steps over these ruddy paint chips!
I’m hoping we can make a decision before I destroy all the chips. Or worse.
I’ve been erratically posting to the Ten Things of Thankful blog for a while now, thankful that no one is keeping score! And here is my current countdown:
1. A restful Christmas vacation, much needed and much appreciated.
2. Plans to repaint and redecorate our family room. Since my dear teaching widower got to turn our living room into a home theater, I decided on a bear theme for this room. Martin Minkling and Rufus will have a new home.
3. Some snow this winter!
4. A new puppet friend for social studies (and yes, you may ask about that).
5. The first of a few new bear prints. No pun intended.
6. Relief that my dearest teaching widower and I both agreed to nix the bear eyes print below. Caution: Extended viewing may lead to paranoia.
7. Time to blog. This will likely come to an end next Monday.
8. No flu.
9. A new REAL camera, with special thanks to Cee for her inspiration and help. I’m gonna be Cee one day!
10. Good Karma, which is a delicious flaxseed “milk” with no added sugar and lots of protein.