CLASS OF 1971 | 2022 | FALL ISSUE

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Aloha! We had a very successful 50th (51st) Reunion. This column should now be mainly devoted to transitions. Many have already retired and are well embedded in their new transitions, but many are still working full or part-time and trying to come to terms with what to do when the work door closes. Let’s discuss our successes/attempts/failures or whatever’s.

Here is what Katy Butler is dealing with: “After decades as a part-time landlord, I sold a rental property (the house I owned with my first husband), which had helped subsidize my writing. At 73, much to my surprise, I suddenly hit a wall and couldn’t/didn’t want to deal with tenants and handymen anymore.

“My literary agent shot down a new book idea. I feel somewhat unmoored. I’m taking the summer off, going to museums in San Francisco, reading Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit, using the library, and socializing like crazy, reaching out to other women writers, making up for years of self-denial and workaholism.

“I feel like I’m preparing a nest for something new, something unnamed. The lack of purpose is difficult. I’m redoing my estate plan and have picked a professional fiduciary to manage my trust rather than burdening my husband. I am childless but in a blended family, and want to provide, after my death, for a vulnerable brother. I’m also providing for the realistic possibility that I may become mentally incompetent before I die, and that is a difficult contemplation, even for someone who’s written two books about successful aging! I got a baseline assessment of my neuropsychological functioning (so that I and others can see when I skid and slip) and much to my surprise, given my forgetfulness with names and dates, passed with flying colors for my age and demographic. I’m hoping I still have 15 good years in front of me.

“I’m sure there’s another book in me, but while I await it, I guess I’m trying out what my father called ‘being on permanent holiday.’ Even my dreams are getting richer.

“Being a writer, I set my own terms and worked out of a home office for decades. I imagine this transition is not nearly as wrenching as it may be for people who went into an office.

“I’m learning to manage my energy rather than my time, and to do a little less per weekend. I swim  for about an hour in the midafternoon, up to four times a week, and it gives me a huge energy boost plus I’m enjoying it mightily. Staying functional—even on a plateau—is a part-time job and a victory.”

Warren White’s  transitions are: “I am active mentally and physically as a 12-year retiree from Wendy’s food service and corporate compensation management.

“(1) I walk and exercise almost daily, staying off of statin drugs.

“(2) I volunteer prep cook once a week for Richmond, Virginia’s, 34-county Feed More.

“(3) In September, I begin docent training at the renovated Virginia Museum of History & Culture, an interest that has continued since a WesU American Revolution seminar.

“(4) Occasionally I bake whole-grain fruit cake for grandnieces/nephews in Richmond and Denver.

“I hope other ‘Hoy’s Boys’ are happy, healthy, and doing what they like to do!”

Jim Rizza writes about his transitions: “I volunteered my time for four years doing residential electrical wiring with Habitat for Humanity and others in need. I volunteered as the director of the science and technology lab for a local school district, running a three-hour lab once a week for the best math and science students. Taught photography and served as a judge for statewide annual photo competition for three years. Published a few articles—guitar construction and history, photographs, other topics. I continue to study across a very broad range of interests with emphasis on teachings regarding the true nature of reality as revealed by our greatest spiritual masters and mystics over the past few thousand years as well as quantum physics and quantum gravity. I spend time almost every day playing the guitar and, on occasion, produce some original music. Have performed here and there, mostly for schools. Support our adult children and our granddaughters (four of them) with problem-solving help ranging from homework to building addition on to a house to resolving anxiety issues to organizing and establishing the business plans and ethics for conscious capitalism business ventures. I learned to fly small, general aviation aircraft. I do creative wood and metal fabrications. I meditate.”

Finally, Mark Wallach weighs in: “I’m still as far behind most of my classmates in imagination and openness to change as I was at Wesleyan. I’m still working as a litigator (though certainly not as hard as I did 20 years ago), singing in our community choral group (the Western Reserve Chorale), occasionally riding my bike (not a motorcycle, just a plain old bicycle). There are grandchildren—five of mine, three of Karla’s, so far—but they’re all out of town (all in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., to be precise) and therefore only occasionally filling our lives. We moved—how I hate the term ‘downsizing’ after this move—into a three-bedroom condo in a lovely, tree-lined collection of developments known picturesquely as ‘The Village.’  I’ve been trying for several years to find an appropriate volunteer position to do something substantive to combat climate change, but nothing much has come along yet. I keep trying. I don’t feel old. I want to make a ‘transition,’ but only on terms I like.”

Hope you found these interesting. Looking for more next time. Aloha!

NEIL J. CLENDENINN | cybermad@msn.com
PO Box 1005, Hanalei, HI 96714