Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 18, 2013

IN ALL CANDOR: Life — it’s always changing

By Clayta Richards
Staff writer

CROSSVILLE — Well, goodness. I’ve been working in Cumberland County a few days more than 11 years now, the bulk of that time spent serving the journalistic needs of Fairfield Glade and Lake Tansi communities.

I had always wondered what people did in retirement, maybe because I had never seen it in my future . . . . But working with these two communities has given me the answer. Frankly, I have never seen a population so dedicated to helping their fellow man.

Early on, I realized that most of the people in these two retirement/resort communities have lived their lives very carefully, preparing all along the way for the future. In retirement, I see them approaching their health and philanthropic work the same way they approached their working years — with dedication and planning, and making work into fun where possible. Seriously, why be an old goat if you can laugh, have fun, and raise $3,500 for a worthy cause all at the same time. Kudos, golfers, quilters, artists, actors/actresses, top chefs, and musicians! Kudos! And wait, I failed to mention walkers of the Appalachian Trail, the Relay for Life, and March of Dimes, etc. Walkers — kudos indeed!

All this has certainly given me ideas about activities for my own retirement, and that is a time that has suddenly arrived. As of mid-February, I’m retiring from the Chronicle. It’s due to my mother needing immediate 24-hour-a-day care. While turning this corner is a sudden thing, it’s not like I didn’t know it was coming… someday.

Being near the “magical age,” I have done some limited thinking about what else I could do in retirement along with the home care duties. There’s that start to a book that’s been laying over there on the shelf for three or four months now. I could focus on my plot and characters and figure out the things I still don’t know. Surely it will just write itself after I figure that stuff out. I need a chalkboard and a big diagram.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a class at church for girls ages 6-12, and is that ever fun and are those little girls ever precious.

For now, I am thankful for several 1,000-piece puzzles I can spread out all over the dining room table, one after another, and consider whether this piece is blue sky or blue water; well, you get the idea, and how long will this hold my attention, I ask myself.

There are thoughts about how I can involve more people in Mom’s daily life — she’s such a social butterfly and misses all those folks who used to call and/or come by. I’m thinking about instigating “Lunch with Lenora” one day a week — I’m a pretty good cook when I put my mind to it, so they might come.

And later, after my book is on the New York Times Best Seller List, I’ll take Mom on the book tour . . . and she’ll enjoy meeting everyone.

Seriously, thank you Cumberland County for helping me understand that “retirement” doesn’t mean you have ceased to exist, but are entering what could possibly be your most productive, valuable and meaningful years, and thank you to the Chronicle for giving me this opportunity.