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COVID-19 was a jump-start on my future

Nick Connolly applies the finishing touches to a

Nick Connolly applies the finishing touches to a recent project during his retirement. Credit: Suanne Connolly

I became prematurely retired in the middle of March because of the sudden pandemic facing the world. This wasn’t much of a surprise considering I had a target retirement date of April 3 anyway. I was getting too used to not working after a few absences from work for medical reasons. I have to admit, I was getting the hang of it. Attitude changes notwithstanding, I’d been talking about this for maybe a year or so. 

I guess what I’m trying to convey is the sudden loss of a dedicated place to be and also of contributing to a needed service that had been abruptly ended. I am/was a medical assistant in a specialty medical clinic in the Tech Park area off Belle Meade Road in Setauket. The office, at any given point in the day, had up to 10 or more doctors with full schedules which could make 200 patients a typical occurrence. It could be invigorating at times. There was tension, yes. Drama, yes. Chaos, but in a controlled fashion. I loved it! One thing at a time always got everything done.

People would ask me, “What are you going to do when you retire?” That was always answered with a list of projects and activities. The upcoming change to warmer weather is welcomed as I have a lengthy list of things to do, both outside and inside. The task of cleaning out the basement will take years! Well, here I am thinking about that list as the day passes. Fortunately, I have a great wife who shares many of my interests, five cats and a dog, so it’s not like I’m alone.

My only regret is to have not had the opportunity to say a formal “goodbye” to the staff and doctors. I had been laid off in 2000 after 27 years in the publications department of a large electronics company and didn’t get the chance to say my goodbyes to many people there, either. Recently, at 69, I had been saying goodbye to the patients I had seen over the six-plus years that I would not see again for their follow-up visits, wishing them well and to stay healthy. I’m sure I’ll eventually run into a few of them out and about, as I have in the past. I plan to visit my office whenever the situation presents itself, but for now it’s just stay home and chill.

So here I am, writing, which is one of the things on my list, and gradually getting used to not having to be anywhere at any specific time anymore, unless I want to. Any project I’m working on doesn’t have to be completed by Sunday afternoon because there’s always Monday . . . Tuesday . . . and so on. Strange that this health crisis gave me a jump-start on my future.

I’m sitting at the computer now, my wife in the living room reading, cats wandering around, and the dog barking outside. Sounds like retirement, doesn’t it?

Reader Nick Connolly lives in Selden.

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