Things to do

Friday, October 8, 2010

After one full week, I can report that retirement is easy.

As a matter of fact, I'd retire again, if I could.

The question I get most often those of you already retired have heard it too is, "What are you going to do with your time?"

Who knew that you could spend an entire morning properly watering your newly aerated and seeded lawn?

The nicest thing about retiring is hearing and reading all the accolades other see fit to say and write.

I also have been the recipient of favors, large and small, from folks who went out of their way to do something nice in honor of my retirement.

Like Leroy, one of the regulars at Patty Lou's Cafe on Morgan Oak. That's where two of my Southeast Missourian colleagues and I have coffee almost every morning before the sun comes up.

Leroy is one of what I call "the Catholic regulars." He and a few others attend the early Mass at St. Mary Cathedral a couple of blocks away and then head to the cafe for coffee and storytelling.

At my table we take turns paying for all the coffee and food and leaving the tip. At the Catholic regulars' table, they each pay their own way.

It was a pleasant and touching surprise last week, on my actual retirement day, to discover that Leroy had paid for our whole table.

Thanks, Leroy.

One of the ways I'm occupying my time is following the good example of my lovely wife. She taught for several years early in our marriage and still hears from former students some who already have grandchildren of their own, believe it or not.

A few months ago, my wife heard that there was a waiting list at the Cape Girardeau School District's Adult Learning Center. This is where ambitious folks study for a GED or get individualized help. The waiting list existed because there weren't enough volunteer tutors for everyone.

My wife and I are strong advocates of reading and knowing how to read. We see too many high school graduates who can't read. I think the biggest part of the dropout situation is that many of the at-risk students have trouble reading or can't read.

So that's how my wife began tutoring a man in his 60s who had never learned to read despite earning a good living.

Her experience was so rewarding that I said I'd be interested in tutoring too. Pretty soon I got a call inviting me to meet a prospective student. He is retired too and wants to get his GED but needs help improving his reading skills. We started a couple of weeks ago.

Here's what I've learned so far: Tutors who work with adults have opportunities to learn as much as their students. Not just ambition, but perseverance, integrity, dignity and gratitude.

My wife and I can't tutor everyone who wants to learn to read.

But we can start with two wonderful men who have taken a huge step on their own and need a bit of guidance.

That's worth retiring.

Joe Sullivan is the former editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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