Last Thursday was my last day of classes and Friday I cleaned out my desk. There was a socially distanced morning tea where my colleagues said lovely things about me and had me in tears. There were flowers and gifts.
Gifts included a beautiful freshwater pearl bracelet (I got to choose it), along with a gift card for an afternoon tea outing once restrictions lift. I plan to take my daughters and daughter-in-law. I handed in my keys at the end of the day and that, of all things, made it final. I walked out of the school and felt a little bit lost and uncertain.
My students also said goodbye. They want to know who will teach them Spanish next year. I don't know, but I assured them it would all be just fine. One young woman has struggled with anxiety for a number of years. For awhile, a couple of years ago, she could only attend my class - French, at the time. This year she is doing better and has been in my Spanish class. A few days before classes finished she brought me a gift - these handmade soaps. When I thanked her, I told her that I would give her a hug if it wasn't for Covid, and she impulsively stepped forward and hugged me.
Another student is from Korea. She came back after class and spoke to me. Just before saying goodbye, she straightened up, put her hands by her sides, and gave a deep bow. I was honoured.
It's the memory of these students that will stay with me. They come and go from course to course, and I've had the privilege of contributing to their growth in very small ways. They've taught me how to be firm and fair, and merciful and encouraging. I will miss them. I chat with former students in the grocery store and the gas station. Surely, being a teacher is the very best job.
On Saturday night Tim and I went out for dinner. Only households are permitted to sit together in restaurants just now, so it was just us. We walked along the water before dinner and the lights reflected in the still blackness like stars.
On Sunday there was a Zoom party with our children. While I opened a card, Tim went out to the garage and brought in a big, beautifully wrapped box, with a smaller gift on top. It was a serger, something I had talked about getting once I retired and had more time to sew. It's a lovely machine, and I've been watching Youtube videos about it and reading the manual.
I feel very spoiled and celebrated. Then, on Monday, I spent the day writing report cards. Down to earth again. They are finished now, and it's time to think about new routines. I'm not in a rush, but I do want to feel productive. I look forward to more time with family once restrictions lift. Until then I'll content myself with walks outside and Skype calls.
In the meantime, there are books to read, projects to sew, and flowers to enjoy. Today was my first real day of retirement - Tim wants to work for a few more years - so I was home alone. I went for a short walk, read, drank tea, and organized some things. Tell me, if you are retired, how did you find a new routine?