Day 45: Retirement
It’s official. I’ve signed retirement papers. In three years, I must. The UO signed off for me to reduce my tenure and become emeritus. Who’d have thunk that, all these years later, I’m officially on the list. Eventually, on the dole. Idle time away and get in the way of everyone else who’s not retired. Like Uncle Milt who comes to the family gatherings and stays too late, drinks too much, and talks too loud. Stories told as an elder and forced on the youngers, not because of their truth but because of age. Told from experience, even though frail and incomplete.
We’ve built entire cities for retirement though it’s uncertain if the walls are to keep the elders in or the youngers out. Put all the elders in one place. A purposeful divide to unite people in ability, activity, possibility. Create schedules that start later and end earlier. Organize activities of craft and games. Pass time. Share stories, mostly the past. Let time be the keeper of memories, frail and incomplete.
So, yesterday was framed between my retirement in the morning and another retirement in the evening. The retirement of Mert, a wood carver who lives on highway 58, east of Pleasant Hill. We visited him in search of a wood carving like the one in our KT forest/yard. You know, the bear climbing a tree, now spot lighted in the evening. Mert’s in his 80’s with a slight bend in his body when he walks. We pulled into his expansive yard full of wood carvings in use and in storage. For sale and otherwise made just because.
Tables. Bears. Salmon. An eagle. More bears to hold signs of welcome or to climb a tree. His garage was consumed with carvings. Then we walked to his car ports. Canvas coverings to keep them dry during the Oregon rainy season when time with rain is more pervasive than the amount of rain. Two carports full with a narrow isle to walk through and see them for retrieval. For sale. Or just storage. Last year a real bear cub snuggled in one of the car ports. The mamma bear killed on the highway and nowhere to go.
Mert said he retired last year but couldn’t put up with it. Just sit around. For what? He didn’t have a game of play like golf. Didn’t watch TV other than to make noise in the background. So he got back to carving. One a day. Chain saws with a special bar that was expensive, especially for a guy who has another job: raising bees.
Mert’s likely to never retire. James isn’t likely to retire either. You know, the guy from Malawi who carved the table with your five dedicated words: Athlete, authentic, collaborative, curious, generous. For Mert, the option not chosen. For James, the option not possible. Two different reasons for staying in the game. As Ellen so wisely stated: Skin in the game. I doubt I’ll retire either for yet another reason. Why?
Though official, my retirement’s just another marker of time on my way to something else. Not retirement but to honor your life with us. Continue to raise money for your memorial scholarship in the UO Sports Product Management Program. Avoid the elders passing time. Be among youngers who are changing the world. No games, but skin in the game.
One day, I’ll join you in being a memory of all things lived and left behind. Until then, it still hurts not to have you with us.
We love you.