By Joe Rector

Amy and I woke up the Monday after Christmas, stretched, and fell back asleep. Both of us have entered the world of retirement, and we appreciate being here. I’ve heard so many folks my age regret their decisions to retire. They miss work and wish they could go back. For those disgruntled folks, life is out of kilter. I feel sorry for their predicaments. No one gave them help and advice in adjusting to a new style of life.

The first thing a person must realize is that he has earned retirement. My first paying job was at the Copper Kettle on Western Avenue when I was 14. The hours ran from 4:00 p.m. until closing at 11:00 p.m. Then clean up began which meant that I might leave for home sometime after midnight.

I worked jobs of all kinds throughout high school and college. Following graduation, I taught high school English for 30 years and worked a couple of other jobs when I left the profession for a while. In that, 30th year I knew that the time for me to leave and let the new crop of teachers and administrators take the reins. The way they taught was much different, and I wasn’t inclined to learn a new way that late in life.

Retirement didn’t mean not working. I enjoyed jobs with the Shopper, and after that, I returned to my first writing job at The Focus. The work with the Knoxville News Sentinel and Shopper was profitable, and I enjoyed hunting down news and feature stories. New friends were made, and I learned more about the community I had lived in most of my life.

Circumstances called for me to re-enter the workforce. Some of those jobs paid little, but I liked the folks with whom I worked and the requirements of the jobs. I even returned to the classroom as a substitute teacher because the pay was better. I learned much from the faculty and students. Covid 19 put an end to that job, and I refused to go back due to some of the decisions made by those in charge.

I knew I would become a teacher when I was in high school. It was a wonderful career, but when it was over, I was ready for time to be mine. Hobbies have taken up plenty of time. My golf game isn’t that good, but being on the course instead of in a classroom is fine with me. Mowing tee boxes in the summer is something I enjoy as a part-time job.

Another hobby is woodworking. My ability with the necessary tools is improving, but most of the things in my collection could be called “rustic rickety.” Still, I keep trying, and Amy has actually let me bring a couple of things into the house. Most projects are constructed with wood from pallets or decks. I’m smart enough to know not to spend too much money on lumber.

Amy has her own schedule, but we have time together as well. Life is good to us. I hope that plenty of years are still ahead so that we can visit some places and so that I can improve my woodworking hobby. I also hope that my mind stays sharp enough to continue writing each week. It’s my best way of keeping in touch with people who have become special in my life.

For those who are close to retirement or in the middle of it, I say enjoy each and every second of this new lifestyle. We’ve worried too much about work, families, politics, and finances. Now is the time to just sit back and let someone else drive. The last few years should be spent in happiness and the company of those we love. Relax and breathe.