To retire or not to retire? That was the question. So many reasons pro, so many reasons con.
The fact that my mom is almost ninety was one of the main reasons to retire. I’d felt terribly guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with her and some of that time that I spent with her I was feeling tired and was wanting to go home to decompress from a day at school
My mom came over today and I planned to do work in the kitchen while she read the Courier-Post. All those years of multi-tasking haven’t faded after three weeks of retirement. I figured I could talk to her while I busied myself with little neglected chores.
Then, it dawned on me. I have a lot of time now–washing the teapots on my kitchen shelves could wait. Forever, if necessary!
My youngest and biggest cat, Bello Antonio Ferra, jumped onto the kitchen chair where I was sitting next to my mom. He rubbed his face against her. She isn’t very comfortable with animals, but they adore her. I pulled up a chair on the other side of my mother and we started to talk about the details of retirement, Social Security, pension, health benefits.
My mother asked me if I would miss the schoolchildren and I said yes. A good memory sprang to mind. In the first few minutes while the kids hung up book bags and waited for breakfast, I would put on a music video on the SmartBoard–that big wonderful sort of wall I-Pad. A favorite was The Star-Spangled Banner sung by the military cadets before an Eagles game. They learned the song, mastered English vocabulary and recognized Andy Reid, Bill Clinton and George Bush.
I opened my laptop and showed that video to my mother. The jets flying over thrilled her and she remember how my dad and she had enjoyed an air show. Then, I remembered how my mom liked Oprah and I showed her the interview between Oprah and Pharrell Williams. We watched Pharrell’s Happy video and she loved it, especially when the children danced. Me, too! Next, I put on that silly video, What Does the Fox Say? She laughed at the computer fox scatting at the end.
Whoa… This was good. Sometimes it has been awkward to sit together for hours and to find a new topic of conversation. I thought, “Thanks, You-Tube.”
I tried to remember Mom’s favorite songs. At first, I drew a blank. So did she. Then, I remembered her favorite hymns and found them on You-Tube videos with the lyrics, all sung by Alan Jackson–The Old Rugged Cross, In the Garden, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. We sang together, neither of us with good voices, but enjoying these rare moments of shared enjoyment.
I found America the Beautiful. She remembered all the words. Both of us had learned them in elementary school in North Camden. Then, we sang This Land Is Your Land. The two Marguerites, eighty-nine and sixty-four, were on a roll.
“How about I’m a Grand Old Flag?” she asked. We sang it while watching the words on the screen. It reminded me of the Saturday program that I had for kids long ago and that was one of the favorite songs of the group.
Finally, my cell phone rang and we stopped singing. Mom picked up the newspaper and Bello remained on his chair next to his human grandmom. I washed teapots on one shelf only, but that was fine. I was glad that I was retired and let myself stop multi-tasking. Singing with Mom was much more fun.
Written by Marguerite Ferra, Camden, NJ