Nearly two years ago now, I made an incredibly difficult decision to “retire” from my career as a healthcare administrator. Man does time fly! Never in all my years did I think I’d be retiring at the age of 43. But sometimes things happen in life that take us down roads we didn’t expect to take. Detours, I suppose.
And one detour in my life came in the form of a disease called Sarcoidosis. I have to say that it’s pretty typical of me to get a “rare” disease…something no one has heard of and that is hard to diagnosis. I like to do things with a little extra panache. If I am going to do something, I go all out.
So, what does a 43 year old retired gal do? At first it was a lot of lunch dates and shopping to be honest. Sounds like a dream, right? But in truth, after awhile it becomes hollow. No, shallow is a better word.
Then I met a new friend in the neighborhood. She’s a bit older than me, extremely kind and very social. She got me involved in a club called “Newcomers”. The purpose of the club is to provide new residents of the area or newly retired residents of the area an opportunity to make new friends and to contribute to local charities through fundraising and volunteer work. It’s a group of ladies who, for the most part are at least ten years older than me. Many of them live in very wealthy parts of the community and most have a bit of a “society” air about them.
Don’t get me wrong, they are as a whole, an exceptionally kind and very generous group of ladies, many of whom work very hard to make this a successful and meaningful group benefiting a number of local charities through the organization of successful fundraising events. It is truly worthwhile.
I simply never thought of myself as a society gal doing good works! I simply never thought of myself as someone who wouldn’t work until I was at least 65 and knowing me, probably 70. I don’t have kids and other than my dogs, my career was my baby. I put so much of myself into it for twenty plus years. I never thought it would end so soon or from a “rare” disease. Detours!
But my friend got me to join this group and suddenly I was going to lunches at country clubs and having wine and appetizers in swanky neighborhoods. I was attending fashion shows and silent auctions.
This coupled with the fact that I am now also a housewife…a word that is so incredibly foreign to me that I almost chock on it. Not that there is anything wrong with being a housewife. There isn’t. But let’s face it, most housewives actually have full time jobs raising children. I do not. I am simply a wife who stays at home.
So for the first year, I pretty much took on the house like I was still running a business. I made lists of chores and completed them one after the other, clean closets, paint closets, paint kitchen, etc…A lot of smaller but much needed little projects around the house were getting done. Now mind you, it took me awhile to do a lot of them because the fatigue from the Sarcoidosis would eventually kick my butt. But still a wonderful effort was made and there was much to still be proud of!
Once again though, I found myself in a very strange place. How had I become a homemaking society gal? What happened to the hard charging, workaholic, constantly worried, always obsessing woman I had always been?
I swear when I looked in the mirror, especially during that first year, I had absolutely no idea who was staring back at me. I am not a housewife and I am not a society gal. I am not a person defined by disease. I am no longer a person defined by a career.
There are days and times I am still at a loss. These are the times I remind myself that I spent a lot longer on the journey going in one direction than the direction I am heading now. Detours! I need to take time to allow this new life to sink in. I didn’t start my career at the top of my field. I had to work at it. In some ways, this is the same thing in reverse. I didn’t ask for this retirement, it was forced on me by health issues but I have time. I have time to figure it out.
In the meantime, I suppose I should try, as much as I am physically able, to enjoy the detour presented to me because if I don’t I might miss some pretty interesting scenery a long the way.