Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 746 Reconnecting

This is Retirement Talk.

One of the pleasures of retirement is hearing a voice from the past calling you to re-establish contact. Teaching students is such a mysterious business in that one never knows if you are really having a positive impact on students or if they are just getting their credits. Roger called me to tell me that he considered my classes to be positive. He was passing through town and wondered if we might get together for coffee or lunch. We had lunch at the local farmers market.

Roger Cline flies airplanes - big ones. He has been a pilot for JetBlue flying out of New York City. He commuted during those days - from Alaska. He has flown all over the world in the past 30 some years. Much of his time has been spent in Alaska flying smaller planes and then there was  a time when his job was flying a 737 for an oil company shuttling workers back and forth from Anchorage to the North Slope. Roger was a student of mine over 40 years ago.

It was a treat to talk to him and his wife who is a stewardess for JetBlue ( she lives in Anchorage and works out of Boston). They were driving an old Army truck from Denver to Anchorage. It was the result of a chance bid on eBay. He bid low but won it for better or worse. Now they were launching into the adventure of trying to get it to Anchorage. Roger always had a way of taking a bit of risk and trying to do things a bit different than others. That is the reason he skipped college and went right to the North Slope during the construction of the oil pipeline. He avoided college indebtedness and made a lot of money. Enough money to learn to fly and buy a plane. 

Two other former students stopped to visit this past summer. They live in Juneau where he teaches Junior High band and she works for the state legislature. They have two wonderful children and we enjoyed a day reliving old memories and reacquainting ourselves with each other's lives.  We were joined by another former student and his wife for Sunday brunch. He is a great jazz guitarist and we all enjoyed a day of conversation, reminiscing and laughter.

We had dinner two weeks ago in Vancouver with another former student who is a professor at the University of British Columbia. We have been friends now for about 40 years. We share lunch or dinner every few months. We have watched her and her husband develop carriers and raise two children while establishing themselves in a new country. They have focused on journalism and education in Vancouver and made a name for themselves locally and nationally.

Our work life sometimes reaches out into our retirement life and touches us. It has a way of warming our old heart. When we visited New York City about ten years ago a former student met us in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. He and his wife spent the day showing us the area and sharing the experiences they have had during the past forty years since he was a student of mine. It was a treat.

I'm pretty lucky in this regard. There are other students with whom I keep in touch. It has become one of my most cherished rewards of being a teacher. This certainly wasn't the reason I became a teacher but it is one of the most enjoyable perks.

Retirement has its moments of isolation and then again it provides us time to reestablish contact with moments and people from our past. Some of us go back to our high school or college reunions. The social network Facebook provides an easy way to reach back and outward. There are things I don't like about Facebook but there are times when it brings a memory to mind that is most satisfying. And if we are really lucky the electronic connection may evolve into two people actually sharing food,drink and conversation in the same room.

There is something about reaching into the past and touching one another that makes retirement so sweet.

This is Retirement Talk.

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