On My Husband’s Retirement: A New Age in Our Lives

Left to right: Zoran Andrevski, Matt Jones, Jerry Siegel, and a piece of the webmaster.
May 2010, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.”
– Abe Lemons

After 44 years, my husband Jerry Siegel (no, not the official creator of Superman) has officially retired as a full-time, tenured college professor from York College of Pennsylvania.
We spent about a week dismantling his office, tossing a lot of old papers, donating books, recycling papers, and bringing the rest home.
While working, we streamed the Skopje (Macedonia) jazz station. (Awesome music, by the way).
As we condensed his papers and book collection, I definitely felt something in the air shift, sort of like a wave that occurs when a new weather front moves in. And so it has: this is momentous for him (and for me, too, but not as much, given that I have already retired) because Jerry has always been defined by his job – he has always wanted to be a college professor, and so he was. He never really wanted to be anything else, (except, perhaps, an announcer for the Orioles – yet another story), and he’s very good at what he does – his love for his field always evident.
Most importantly, he genuinely cares about his students and wants them to do well: he’s happy when they do, disappointed when they don’t.
He has always been happiest when he’s at work.
So it will be interesting to see how he adjusts at being “the retired guy,” puttering around the house. He says that he will be busy doing weeding and household chores for about a year, but then what?
Well, he will continue teaching part time and advising his current advisees. Already, he has volunteered to help an organization with its conference.
We finished cleaning out his office on Thursday (May 22, 2014); as we loaded up the boxes, we both knew that this was it, his last day as full time faculty member.
Fortunately, we weren’t cleaning out 44 years worth of stuff. During his career, Jerry has resided in three different offices, each move requiring a major weeding: once in the 70’s (before I knew him), once in the 90’s (you cannot even imagine how much stuff we tossed back then, including old computer punch cards), and the last move in 2008, to a newly-renovated building, formerly the gym.
The decision to retire has been emotionally difficult for Jerry, although he feels that it was time to cut back and try new things.
What I love best about my husband (and why we have endured for 30 years): he is humble in a way that some college and university professors are not. While always doing his best at his job, he has never taken his “status” and “elitism” seriously and has always treated everyone with respect, irrespective of their station in life – always a greeting for everyone, no matter who or what they are.
Even if someone acts like jerk, he will give him/her the benefit of the doubt, saying, “He’s doing the best he can.”
I am so fortunate to be able to join him on his next life’s journey – I just hope he doesn’t drive me too crazy. I keep warning him that if he gets too bored, he can write “content” for me, what I call “end-user letters” to potential buyers of domains (tepid response, by the way).
I have already found some of his quirky poems, which I’ll be posting here...
It's definitely a new day for both of us!

Jerry Siegel in Athens, Greece (January 1989)
Fulbright year, 1988 - 1989


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