If you recall, Amoke shared two posts with us last year about being a newly retiree. Here she is with her latest episode of her Retiring Mind.
February first marked year one into my retirement years. My initial days were filled with me grinning and chanting, “I don’t have to go to work no more” and “I can do anything I want” and “I was a teacher” – a lot. Time was now my BFF. I have a big imagination and the possibilities were like assorted valuables in a bank vault.
Here is the year in review. On the eleventh day of my second emancipation, I woke up in a world of hurt. I could not move without crippling pain. Thigh and shin muscles visibly pulled away from leg bones in an effort to detach from unrelenting spasms. My torso twisted into a chicken wing. An alarming mix of shrieks and sobbing brought both adult daughters to my bedside. They had never witnessed any medical emergency before. They didn’t know me as a crying woman. Agony painted sharp lines and pulsing circles that made my face a new kind of canvas. Never had I been so scared or felt so vulnerable. A trip to the ER informed me that I had bone on bone arthritis in my knees and sciatica. I got medication that made me itch. I was told I’d get better in time.
This misery lasted until late spring. Chiropractors, massages, herbal remedies brought some relief, however I began to feel mentally fragile. My shadowy thinking scared me. What if this was the beginning of my end? Would I have this pain for the rest of my life? Will I not be able take care of myself? A small voice whispered, “You wanted time to write stories, books and screenplays,” yet all I could think about was PAIN! I felt so helpless. God! Take me now!!!
I decided to make “last calls”. I scavenged through years of old phone books and started calling old friends. Most conversations picked up where the last one ended years ago. Laughter, tears and sharing from the heart brought me unexpected joys. I remembered simple pleasures of yesteryears. Friends reminded me of who I used to be – way back when. A Wild Woman! Crazy cool! Always into something or doing something. Unflappable, a friend said. Then, a minister friend of mine invited me to Las Vegas where she was creating a Goddess Study Center. I went for four days. At the fundraiser, I met many women my age and older who were cavorting with the Feminine Divine, nature, oracles, music, dancing, and luscious food and drink. God, I missed this energy!
I returned home, feeling empowered and reacquainted with my wild woman self. I called my former health clinic and told them that I had no insurance but needed to be seen, as I was not going to live my life in pain. If I fell down, I was going to keep getting back up. The hospital social worker assisted me. I was able to see a doctor and specialists who referred me for assessments that eventually led to better care and treatment. I am regaining stamina, strength, ability, and hope.
In those 365 days, I grieved the loss of the teacher persona. I grieved the changes in my body that are not related to physical illness but to inevitable aging. I discovered I can no longer put coins or dollars in my bra. Not only have the sisters gone south, they have left their posts. I grieved with friends who have lost their loved ones. I offered a shoulder to those caring for elder parents or siblings. I have neither. I am claiming retirement. I will keep calling for a purposeful and meaningful retirement just like I call on old friends. And by the time you read this, I will be on my way to Florida to visit a friend I have not seen in 27 years.
To learn more about Amoke Kubat (writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis) visit her website.