Thursday, June 23, 2011

Retired at 46

Recently (I think in the quarterly journal), the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis - the professional association for Reform Rabbis) has been publishing some musings about retirement. It prompted a message in today's e-list from a Rabbi who has retired, but for very non-traditional reasons.

I can't say exactly why, but I found it profoundly moving, so I'm going to repost it here (with her permission), without any additional comment, except for taking another chance to remind everyone that all of those fortune cookies, bumper stickers and cheesy posters which tell us to be thankful for what we have in life? They're all true.


I read the latest CCAR meditations on retirement and was deeply moved. I had to read it over several sittings because I can't read for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I am 46 years old and I too am retired. 
When I tell people that they assume I'm an heiress, not disabled. Most of you know I fell at work and am permanently brain damaged. Since at first I would not agree to accept that I would never work again, I did promise my rehab team that we did not have to revisit the subject for 5-10 more years! I can't even work at Starbucks because I have no sense of time. Three minutes. Three hours. Same thing. Not good for making coffee.
I am retired, but I didn't have time to plan. I retired the second my head hit the concrete. No long term care insurance. No retirement contract. No successor. I am told the congregation I served for ten years has hired a wonderful new rabbi. I hope I will get to meet him. I love rabbis.
I'm raising children, not visiting grandchildren. And those of you in your 80's think you know what short term memory problems are? When my kids come home every day my son asks me the same question. "How was your day mommy?" Every day the answer is the same, "I don't know." We laugh and then try to reconstruct what I did with greater or less success. We always know there was a nap. We aren't always sure I ate lunch.
The folks at NAORR [ed: National Organization of Retired Rabbis] have welcomed me warmly. They rock! I can't be the only rabbi who loved being one, but whose career was cut short and not replaced with some other high-functioning, fascinating endeavor. So if you are reading this, or if your computer is reading it to you because you can't read and you are 35 or 50, know that you are not alone.


Alice Goldfinger

1 comment:

Phyllis Sommer said...

I also found this post very moving. Glad to know I'm not the only one reading those emails:)