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After 30-plus years at the university, Susan pulls the pin

A bit over a month ago my dear bride, the saintly Susan, did something amazing — she quit!No, she didn't leave me, although most people who know us are perpetually amazed that she hasn't.What she did do is bid fond farewell to the sometimes-doubtful joys of being a university instructor.After more than 30 years of officially being a "full-time temporary" lecturer at the university she has pulled the pin.The idea of being a "temporary" employee after three decades on the job is a concept only a university could understand, but in essence, it meant she spent her entire teaching career on the bubble, knowing that her position could simply disappear at anytime.So at the end of last semester my Susan decided to turn the tables, and fired the university.As a result the woman I love is officially a retired person.I have to admit, for me, retirement is something of an alien notion.Like most newspaper employees, my idea of a retirement plan is you work until you die, but because my bride has been employed in a state institution, death is not a necessary prerequisite to stop working.Retiring is probably both the easiest and hardest decision Susan has ever made.My wife loves to teach and she has a genuine gift for the profession.Also — with some notable exceptions — Susan has loved the uncounted hundreds of students who have filled her classrooms over the decades.She has worried about these kids as only a mother with seven widgets of her own can. She has been frustrated by the ones who utterly refuse to let her help them succeed.Susan always felt she had personally failed each time one of her students chose to jump headfirst into the academic toilet, but even though, she pressed on, and the vast majority of her young charges went away intellectually blessed by the experience.However, endlessly trying to convince mainly freshmen students that it is not a violation of their constitutional rights to expect them to follow the accepted rules of English grammar can wear down even a saintly soul.With hugs for her colleagues, tears for the memories and after packing boxes and boxes of reference books that I personally suspect she never will open again, she marked her last day on campus and headed off into a brave new world.For Susan, retirement hasn't meant the cessation of work or employment.She hasn't even gotten away from grading papers.She grades essays online. The essays are part of all sorts of scary tests people have to take to get into graduate school. She also grades essays, written by international students who must prove their command of English is good enough for them to attend an American university.It's a job she can do on our home computer, which she can do while still dressed in her jammies if she wants, with one or both of our resident cats in her lap.My lady doesn't know how not to work, but now she has more control over what she does and when, which is going to create some lonely time for me.She is already planning some grandma visits to her far-flung offspring, and because anywhere she can plug in her computer is her office, she can work and travel at the same time.Susan is going to miss some aspects of the academic life, but retirement means the only whining children in her life will be ones who call her "Grandma" and, if necessary, she can always send them to their rooms.