Fran K’s Second Ending, 15 Years After the First One

There are, so far, two Frans who are members of the Profound Journey tribe. You have heard from Fran Fearnley, owner and curator of ZimArt.  Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Fran K. Fran will soon make a second ending, retiring again from her life in education. She wrote this piece in response to my recent post about transition to retirement and agreed to allow me to insert subheads and publish it as the first of what I hope will be a multi-part tribe story. Enjoy.

In four months, I will hand in the keys to my office and my identity badge with its magnetic clasp.

I am not sure yet if I will clean out my office, or simply walk out and lock the door. I’m finding that an interesting detail to contemplate.

Finding My Purpose

I spent a lot of years in my ‘real’ career in Canada. I fulfilled a variety of roles, from regular classroom teacher to special education, gifted education, and administration. There were many mentors–people who recognized certain qualities in me, nudging me in directions where I could explore fascinating bits and pieces of educational practice and research. Professional growth opportunities were plentiful.

In the last stage of my career, when I was an administrator, I took pride in building a good school, one that encouraged professional and personal growth in the staff who took care of our students. Education was my calling.

Weariness Sets In

With the onset of a new political environment in Ontario, a sense of weariness set in. The new politics in Ontario were so contrary to what I valued. When the opportunity for an early retirement came, I took it.

To be fair, it wasn’t just about politics. There was another important factor that played a part in my decision.

I lost my mother to cancer when I was in my early twenties and she was in her early forties. I often wondered if I would make it past forty. When I did, I needed to see what life would be like without daily routines and obligations. I wish so much that my mother could have gotten past the child-rearing stage of her life, and that I could have known her in my adult years.

Making a ‘Sort Of’ Ending

It was tradition that my school staff would host a retirement party that I was to know nothing about. Unfortunately, I was so used to organizing events that not being allowed to arrange my own party drove me crazy!Canadian passport, map, magnifying glass, red wine and taperecorder

The retirement party came and went. Two memories predominate from that day–greeting people, and not getting to eat any of the delicious-looking food because I was so busy greeting people. What I learned is that I really value small, intimate and personal dinners rather than big gatherings. I easily remember the conversations from those dinners.

Off to Venice to celebrate my retirement! When I returned, I went to work in a different program that was still related to education. However, I missed the day-to-day socialization of being in a school.

Serendipity

One day, while at a conference in Ottawa, I glanced at a local newspaper. “Teach in a foreign country!” read the advertisement. That was something I had always wanted to do so I applied on the spot. My husband, a teacher, had not been consulted, and was less than enthusiastic.

Nevertheless, later that day I had a phone interview with a principal from the organization I had applied to, and I hung up the phone just dying to work with him. The principal was a truly charming southern gentleman from South Carolina in the United States.

A New Beginning?

That phone call was the beginning of our post-retirement odyssey. From South Carolina to Egypt,  then England and now Uzbekistan, we used the tools we had practiced during our first careers. Our roles varied in our different schools. Sometimes I was a teacher, sometimes a principal, sometimes a curriculum coordinator.

During school holidays we travelled. We have seen much of the southern United States, Europe, and many Middle Eastern countries such as the Emirates, Turkey, Oman, and Iran.terracotta warriors of xian

My dream trip was to China where we saw the sites that had been images in my mind since learning about the Terracotta warriors of Xian in Grade 5 Social Studies classes. We spent Easter Sunday on the Great Wall of China, sending pictures from our phone to relatives back in Canada who were gathering for the family Easter dinner.

In our travels we met fantastic people and some not so fantastic. We have friends around the world. Souvenirs fill our home.

A Second Ending

After almost fifteen years of teaching in foreign countries, I am satisfied. I have done what I wanted to do, in education and in travel.

I have seen how wealthy people live in poor countries, made friends with travel agents and restaurant owners, attended weddings in Egypt and Uzbekistan. My life has been enriched far beyond what I could have imagined when first reading that advertisement in the Ottawa newspaper. Nevertheless, it’s time for a second ending.

Reflection

I do not think I will have a ‘transition’ stage when I return to Canada in June. Or maybe this second career was my transition period.

I’m enjoying opting out of discussions at work. It’s fun to offer what I think about this or that issue, while reminding my colleagues that I won’t be there to live with the decision. I get a mad pleasure out of saying things like, “Next year you will have to do this…or that.”

It’s great to do things for the last time. I feel calm, looking forward to returning home and living at my own speed without fear of an impending ‘return to school’ date in early August.

The sense of peace in my life right now is truly wonderful.

Fran K. has had so many incredible life experiences. If you have questions or thoughts you’d like to share, I know she’d be pleased to read them. 

7 comments

  1. Wow, what an amazing tribe story! I hope you are right, Karen, and there are more parts to follow.

    Fran, it sounds like you are doing life your way and I am so happy that you had a chance to travel and work in other cultures. I would love to hear about what is next for you and your husband. It sure sounds, to me, like you are living the dream. Thanks for sharing your story with us. =) Welcome to the tribe, Fran!

    1. Hi Susan, I have read your past posts to Karen’s blog in the past and have also enjoyed what you had to say. When my husband and I were in the midst of doing all that we have managed to do in education and in travel experiences, we found we had become “used to” this being our norm. A few months ago we started cleaning out our collections of thing we had acquired in our home in Uzbekistan and found a pile of business cards. In going through them one by one and recalling memories of what each one brought, it hit us pretty hard that we had had some amazing experiences. It was a seemingly simple task that caused us to reflect at a pretty significant level.

      1. Thank you for the kind words Fran K. I think this site is awesome for bringing tribe members into contact with each other to share our experiences and journeys. I like to come back each week to see what Karen has added that is new and fascinating. I have not come back once yet and not come away having learned something that I would never have thought to look up or research to the extent Karen does. 🙂

        Wow, that is an amazing way to recall memories. Have you ever thought about writing a book about your adventures? Even if you wrote a single copy for yourselves to look back on while the memories are still fresh.

  2. Thank you, Fran, for all of the lives that you touched as an educator both in Canada, and overseas. Knowing you in both of those places, I can say, without reservation, that you have truly made a difference for many. I look forward to keeping in touch and hearing your thoughts and adventures in this next chapter. I am so glad to hear that you are returning home with a sense of peace and fulfillment.

  3. Hi Donna,
    I do hope I have had a positive impact during my career. At this point, I feel I have received more than I have given. Maybe that is a direction to head after I return to Canada. Right now though I am truly enjoying the calm. It is a rare moment in my life!

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