Every September, I enjoy scrolling through the back-to-school pictures that are posted on Facebook. I’ve “friended” the parents of many children I taught at the Early Childhood Music School and children who participated in my choirs, some as long ago as forty years. What a joy to watch them grow up, go off to college, embrace careers and raise families of their own! It’s especially heartening to see how many are still involved in music.
When I retired from teaching and choral directing four years ago, I never dreamed I’d be returning to music education. I even embarked on a new career as an author. But I missed choral conducting, and I dearly missed working with young people. So, when the opportunity presented itself to teach again, I couldn’t resist. With some trepidation, I accepted the position as director of the high school chorus at Walsingham Academy, known as The Madrigals.
I wondered if I’d have enough energy to work with teenagers again. I prayed about making the right decision both for the students and for me. I worried that the job might take too much time away from my husband, children and grandchildren … and my writing, of course. When I walked into the new-teacher orientation and discovered the other new teachers were young enough to be my grandchildren, I wondered if I had deluded myself into thinking I could handle the job at my age.
I needn’t have worried. After two weeks working at this superb school with these delightful students, supportive parents and dedicated colleagues, I find myself energized, motivated, and thrilled to be back in academia, doing what I love, what I was born to do. Since the position is part-time, I still have time for my family, my volunteering, and my writing. The only significant adjustment has been rising and trying to shine at 5:30 am instead of my retirement time of 7:30, but it’s not every day. In fact, the schedule fits my lifestyle perfectly.
When I visit elderly friends in assisted living facilities, they often remark that they feel useless, spending the bulk of their days in front of the television. The hours drag by as they have little more to look forward to than their daily naps, meals, and swallowing mega-doses of meds. After leading full lives of raising families, building and sustaining meaningful careers, and active volunteering, they strongly desire to continue being productive. Their minds are sharp and filled with wisdom that they long to share. Despite still having much to offer, they are often ignored, and their aged bodies fail them, resulting in frustration.
This September, I am reminded of how blessed I am by this opportunity to be productive even in my senior years. I understand my time for productivity is limited, accepting that my body will eventually fail me. Like everyone else, I’m not getting any younger, but while I’m able, I intend to be productive. Every day, I thank God for the blessing of meaningful work.
Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available from amazon.com or hightidepublications.com