A year of goodbyes? | Mark’s Remarks

When you read this, I will have completed my 33rd year of teaching.  Maybe not a big deal to you, but dang.  

Time seems to have gone by at warp speed. Even when there were challenging years, school years (and summers) went by faster and faster with every passing year.

Now, I’m not going to get all verklempt and start sopping around in a weepy state. Nope. I’m looking forward to retirement with an intense longing.  Thinking about retiring from my teaching career quickens my step and makes my heart leap. I am giddy. I feel like a horse coming around the bend, seeing the old barn off in the distance and suddenly heading to the feed trough at full throttle.

I. Am. Ready.

I’m not going to fib and say I’m not excited. Yes, I will miss my students most likely, but that will not cause sadness – just good memories.

But I still have a year to go, don’t I? I do not plan to check out and be some educational ghost floating around, going through the motions. It’s not the fault of my students that I’m on my last leg, and so I am planning on doing the best I can do with them during my last year.

And maybe it will be a little bit easier; you know, with that quickening in my gate and that old barn on the horizon.

When I was a senior in high school, I was the editor of the school paper.  We had a sports editor, a photography editor, and a circulation manager. We were all seniors and we were one of the first group of students to have been on the paper staff for our entire four years of high school.

I remember us sitting around the newspaper office conference table in late August. Our senior year had just started, yet there we were, reminiscing and lamenting our last year of high school.

We started talking about stories we’d do and columns we’d write – all with possible themes of “last hurrahs” and “top 10 lists of things we wish we’d done in high school,” and on and on it went.

Our crabby and overworked newspaper adviser burst into the office, trying to juggle teaching duties on top of the probably underpaid job of helping us run the newspaper.

At least we thought he was crabby back then. Now, of course, we get it. He listened to us bemoaning the fleeting moments of our high school career.

“Look, you people. We have a whole year of stories and deadlines to take care of. Don’t start saying goodbye yet.”

He was right. We were already hanging it up about eight months too soon.

So, I’m not planning on making my year of “lasts” a big deal. After all, my retirement is not a pivotal moment in history by any means. Lots of people retire every day, and lots of people experience a year of “last times.” 

I plan on savoring things a lot. I may write a few things down and snap a few photos. I’m giving a lot of things away, planning on walking out of my classroom with nary a box to carry out on that last day.  If I can do it little by little, it won’t be this big, monumental haul.

Mostly, I’m just thinking about being fairly quiet about everything, which as you know is hard for me and there are folks reading this saying “Yeah, right.”  

I mean, I already wrote a crabby column about people asking me “how much time left?” and “what are you going to do with yourself?” 

I make no apologies.  Small talk gets on my last nerve. But I will tell you what I’m going to make a big deal about: Sunday nights.  

Ah, yes. Sunday nights. I’ve experienced them, somewhat. You know, when we have a Monday holiday.

But I have heard from my retired friends that Sunday nights are the best.  You no longer have that little ache of “am I ready for the week?” in your gut. You no longer think about ironing a shirt or packing a lunch.

Sunday nights take on a whole new area of the soul after retirement, I’m told.

So yes, I won’t wish this last year away or anything.  I won’t talk about it a lot, and I don’t think I’m going to say “goodbye” very much.  

I’m the king of Irish exits as they say, and I’m not sure that’s politically correct.  

I may offend the Irish.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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