Retire? No ma’am, not yet

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sometimes people kind of slap you in the face with things.

I didn’t know exactly what the nice lady meant when she said, “Why don’t you retire?”

Perhaps, she meant that I was taking up office space that could be better filled. Or maybe she noticed the dark circles under my eyes or that I seem a little addled at times.

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My response was that I’m not yet ready for the rocking chair. However, I wouldn’t mind having one of those old folks chairs that eject you out into the room rather than you having to grunt, groan and push your way out.

But, after giving her question a little more thought, I decided that maybe it is time. I’ve been writing for the newspaper a long time. Maybe it’s time to put on the sunscreen and head to Margaritaville to nibble on a sponge cake and watch the sun bake.

But I’m not a dyed in the wool beachie. I don’t even like the beach. The craggy coast of Maine, I could do but I just don’t like saltwater in my hair and sand in my bikini.

Give me a mountain to lean on and one to rest my eyes upon.

But I’ve got chickens, sheep and a cat depending on me to keep them from starvation so a Rocky Mountain high will have to wait.

But the question, “Why don’t you retire?” kept spinning in my head  like a stuck record. Actually, retirement might be nice. There are lots of weeds that I haven’t pulled and books that I haven’t read. And, there’s a swing under the big, oak tree that’s got my name on it. So, why not?

The answer was found in a box that was catching dust under my bed.

I was looking for some long ago information for a friend and, as I plundered through the box of old newspapers, it was as plain as the nose on my face as to why I don’t retire.

It’s the people.

It’s their stories and the love and laughter that they have brought to my life.

I sat there, in the middle of the floor for hours, basking in the memories of those who have shared their stories and parts of their lives with me. Memories of watching Ovie Hughes weave white oak baskets and grinding cane with Grover Poole and Donna Gail. “Coming aboard” with Captain Machada, picking “scupnons” with Dutch Parish and watching for buzzards with Elizabeth Law. Hundreds and hundreds of memories were “kept” there on the pages of those old, fading newspapers. Hundreds of people. Hundreds of stories, all there to help me to not forget.

A picture of “Miss” Louise Chambers playing bridge and one of “Miss” Sadie Johnson and her “burndt” cake brought back a flood of memories. One that stood clear was the day I drove them to a funeral. As we stood at the graveside, Miss Louise whispered, “Is that Rogers Sherwood?”

“In the black coat? Yes it is,” I said.

She turned to Miss Sadie and said, “Ooooh, Rogers looks so old. Is he as old as we are?”

To which, Miss Sadie replied,” Ain’t nobody as old as we are, Louise.”

Those old newspapers hold memories of the triumphs and defeats, births and deaths, joys and deep sorrows of hundreds of friends here and others gone.

I thought what a priceless things they are, these community newspapers that chronicle the people, places and events that are a part of our lives and that preserve the history of our little neck of the woods – pages of history that we can fold and keep and later  hold in our hands to stir memories.

For me, it is an honor and privilege to be a part of the keeping of these stories and to know that years from now, someone will pick up a yellowing newspaper and read about someone or something that was important in his or her life and smile or maybe shed a tear in the sweet memory of times and people past.


No ma’am, not as yet.