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LAce Posted Monday, December 30th, 2002
The Brink
Benjie O'Connell

It is a weird time. It is hard to say if I am nearing death or approaching a new life. Am I at the end of the book or am I beginning the first chapter? "Times they are a changing." For sure, I am six months from retirement and the same distance from becoming a first time grandmother.

Although I am delighted to be entering the realm of "grandma," I am feeling a bit like a pest and at times like a voyeur. I find myself calling my daughter daily to see how she is, and at times being put off by my son-in-law, whom I adore, but at this point is less happy to hear my voice with each passing day. It is an obsession. There are parts of me that are trying to recapture those happy and miraculous times of my own pregnancy when I had only one important duty and my priorities, if only for a short time, were in perspective. Could I through this experience pretend for a minute that I am young again? Luckily my pregnant daughter is the daughter who has always told me more than I ever wanted to know and her pregnancy is no exception. From ovulation dates to failed home pregnancy tests, I have been there. Now that the stick gave a positive read, she has offered her belly for petting and invited me to take a look at her nude pregnant body. I relish it all!

As I enter a store, I somehow end up in the baby department wondering how I ever got there. And, yes, I have become a bit of a pack rat tucking small baby "must haves" into my chest of drawers. In my mind, I am already daydreaming about a relationship that does not yet exist. Rocking, reading, and singing those same made up songs that I sang to my own daughters are haunting my days and nights. There are the normal conflicts too. Will I be a grandmother my grandchild will actually look forward to seeing or will she or he be alarmed by my sour old puss? Will my house smell funny and be filled with untouchable objects and nasty foods? And, of course, since I am retiring within weeks of the birth, will I then inherit a job that is more demanding than my currently paid one? Will transgress the boundaries on all fronts?

Then there is retirement. My last and final year--"my militant year." Finally, I can say and do what I have been holding back for all of these years. Sounds like fun, but in reality I still need to do my job each day complete with stacks of absurd unnecessary paper work, smile at the administrators, and stroke the parents who should never have a license to parent. Although I know retiring is the right thing to do, in fact, I do not have a plan. There have been daily plans as a teacher for a full thirty years. Am I destined to clean my house until it squeaks, cook meals that should not be consumed by two adults who want to live at least a few more years, sleep ten hours a day instead of the recommended eight, watch the Today Show each morning and Oprah every afternoon?

For now, I am trying to enjoy those last rewarding days of teaching, those hugs, those calls for help from parents, teachers, administrators, and children. Will freedom be what I have been looking forward to after all? Will I take classes? Will I volunteer at the hospital to rock crack babies? Will I take advantage of all the cultural events I've been too tired to attend? Will I find satisfying ways to spend my days and will I find fulfillment in being a grandparent? Who the hell knows? But the course is set and here I come.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by dori hoffman-latter on Wednesday, January 1st, 2003 at 1:51 PM
just a word to the wise (and old??), DON'T ever forget your NON RETIRED friends and family...

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