Post-retirement illness indicates teaching apparently good for the health


As I began composing this column, I was aware of a throbbing in my upper left arm, a result of a flu shot I’d had that day.

The pharmacy I went to was out of the age 65-and-up vaccine. So I drove to another pharmacy — also out — then returned home to telephone other locations until I finally found one that had it.

As I was relating this incident to my non-retired sweetheart, she observed that one advantage of retirement is that I now had some time to drive around to ascertain where the flu shots were available. She also wisely stated that it would be well for me to call around before making fruitless journeys. Yes, as usual, she is right!

As I thought about what I would do post-retirement, my wife and I decided to volunteer for the Walla Walla Symphony. Our first gig was serving as ticket-takers for entering concert patrons. We also helped stuff the programs that were distributed. It was an enjoyable experience getting to know and working with the other symphony volunteers, as well as welcoming concertgoers and helping them know where their seats were located. Then in addition, hearing a spectacular concert.

It was interesting to see how many people in the community we knew as they arrived in the foyer of Cordiner Hall. As I tore off their ticket stubs, several concert attendees commented on my monthly column about retirement. It is often retired folk who nod sagely and tell me they identify with things I write about.

My grandson’s school recently celebrated Grandparents’ Day. Grandparents, or those who are honorary grandparents, come in one day and spend some time in the classrooms where their grandchildren are students. Each receive a free lunch provided by the school.

I volunteer in my grandson’s classroom each week, and Grandparents’ Day was the same day as my volunteering. This event must have been on my mind, as I dreamed about it one night.

My dream began with me in the classroom to present the subject that I do with the students. However, I was not at all prepared. As I looked through my papers, with the students sitting there waiting for me to begin, I became aware that I had not duplicated the handouts I always give the students, and the only copy I had was printed in an extremely messy state.

I’ll never know what happened in the classroom because the scene quickly shifted. I was now in a school auditorium on a stage with a group of boys. We were singing “There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame” from the musical “South Pacific.” At the end of the song we were to raise our hands in a cheer. The boy students were rather lackadaisical in their cheering, so I demonstrated a more ebullient version for them. They did not seem convinced by my outlandish outburst.

The rehearsal over, we left the stage. Looking at my watch, I suddenly realized that it was time for me to each lunch with my grandson. Rushing out of the auditorium over a plethora of hurdles and through crowd control devices installed in the school’s dining commons, I made my way to my grandson’s classroom.

I don’t know if I got there to eat because it was then that I awakened with “There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame” going through my brain. I was thankful for “Sunday Baroque” on National Public Radio, which gave me a welcome musical diversion from the Broadway tune that had infiltrated and captured my mind.

As I write this I am also enduring the onset of a cold. Rather suddenly the other day I developed a slight cough. At first I thought it was allergies, which I do have seasonally. I mentioned this during a checkup visit with my doctor, who said that there didn’t seem to be any factors present now that might be the cause of allergies, harvest being over and nothing blooming as in spring.

I related the irony of this to my lovely wife. I rarely, if ever, caught a cold during the years I was teaching week after week with seven classes a day coming in and out of my classroom, bringing their sniffles, snuffles, sneezes and coughs with them. Now that I am retired and not around a large number of students, I come down with a cold. And it is a doozy! I believe I am single-handedly supporting rising sales for the Kleenex company.

Excuse me — I feel a whopper of a sneeze coming on.

Stay tuned.

Terry Koch is stepping into the life of a retiree after 46 years of teaching music at the grade school, high school and college levels. He can be reached at 509-529-6101 or


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