There is a problem being officially "retired" -- receiving Social Security and Medicare and the whole thing -- you simply have to do Something. My "thing" has become going most days to our son Nathan's business, Computer Central. While there I try to make him think he still needs the old man [he is, after all, the beneficiary of my life insurance].
So, with "6 to 9 inches of snow on the ground," I took off for my "office" Wednesday morning. I was able to back out of the garage and get up to Forest Avenue only because I've been driving for some 50 years and had help from our neighbor, Randy Lawton.
Part of what impelled me to go was that I just didn't want to admit I was snowbound. Mostly it was the thought that Nathan, who lives in Carbon, might not make it through the snow that morning, so I should at least make the effort.
Naturally the schools were closed and our grandchildren stayed home. One of the advantages of retirement is to not have to put up with a houseful of children off school with nothing to do but fight. Thinking back to the Dark Ages when I was in grade school, this much snow might even have given my sister and me a well-deserved day off school; but I'm not sure about that.
Memory is a fickle thing, but it seems to me we rarely got days off due to weather. I'm sure there was no relief from merely wind, rain, or very cold weather. Kay and I have vivid memories of walking to school when a prudent person would have deferred ("10 miles -- uphill both coming and going"). Certainly part of the reason for this was that weather forecasting was not nearly as refined, and no one had yet invented the wind-chill index. And, according to rumor the School District didn't get money from the State if a snow day was declared. So we went to school whatever the weather. In grade school the distance I traversed was roughly that of Walgreen's to Brazil City Hall. High school for me meant walking a city block to catch a city bus and transferring to a second bus with my parents paying the fare. With only one exception standing out these many, many years later, we went every day remotely possible.
It seems to me in my retirement years that we learned some things no one intended to teach by going to school regardless of the weather: School was important enough to sacrifice for, showing up for your responsibility was honorable, and you made an effort when people were depending on you.
Of course everyone knows the world has changed a bit since I was in grade school (pre-Civil War era and all that). We certainly don't advocate our own grandchildren walking to school through 9-plus inches of snow. However, there is still no action without an equal but opposite reaction. Children learn something from whatever we do (sometimes it's even what we intended them to learn). Ever wonder what our children are learning staying home that no one intended to teach -- and of which they will only become cognizant in snowbound retirement?
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.