Yesterday, J. seemed intent on my eating the pomegranate she had lovingly prepared for me. She kept harping at me until I opened the fridge to find a gummy eyeball sitting atop my fruit. Trick and treat all in one bowl.
Soon J. is going to have considerably more time for practical jokes, since her retirement date is December 2. While we were away, J. mentioned that she’d miss buying work clothes, which she won’t have the same need for anymore. Although we barely shop when we’re away, J. often scores work attire, e.g., a blouse, a pair of shoes, to remind her of our trip.
Her revelation opened a discussion of other things J. would miss when she retired, and things I’ve missed since I’ve stopped working. Income isn’t the only thing people lose with retirement, and my losses are probably different from yours.
I wonder if J. will miss the esteem that comes from working well with others and receiving positive feedback on her contributions. I imagine she’ll miss the frequent contact with colleagues she respects and enjoys, and the easy access to lunch mates. She told me she’ll miss feeling that she’s making a difference since she’s devoted her work life to public service. I imagine some days she’ll miss the break from the stresses of home.
I’ve had a bit more time to realize that I most miss helping people. I miss trying to provide comfort to a new client even in that first call. I miss figuring out how I can best help that new client, or whether I can help at all. I miss those calls from former clients who want to reconnect, and my confidence that if I’ve helped before, I may be able to help again. I miss consulting with colleagues about clients that challenge me. Even more, I miss my colleagues’ consulting with me, and feeling like I might have valuable input.
I miss other mundane activities as well, like shopping for office supplies or for toys for the playroom (J.’s equivalent of work clothes, perhaps), depositing cheques at the bank, and other errands involved in running a business. I miss prepping my office for the arrival of a client, and even settling into my therapy room, which is bright and airy and welcoming. I miss buying and learning a new psychological test, which may seem odd to you if you are not a psychologist.
Since my basement desk has sat largely unused for four years now, J. will soon be using it for her wedding business. She’ll retreat downstairs when she has work to do. I’ll have to clear out the space for her. (My filing is long overdue, don’t you think?) It’s about time someone use this desk, yet I feel sad to relinquish it. I spent long hours writing reports there at one time.
Now I can’t even recall the last time I sat at that desk, since my report writing days ended with my leukemia. On second thought, I’ve never felt sad about giving up those reports, so enjoy the desk, J., it’s all yours. But you’ll have to scoot if any of my clients mysteriously reappear. Stranger things have happened. Take that eyeball, for example.