After forty-two years of wrestling uncooperative animals, squeezing anal glands, and trying to figure out what is wrong with patients who can’t tell me where it hurts, I am hanging up my stethoscope at the end of the year. It is time for me to retire. While I will miss the perks, such as puppy breath, my body simply cannot take the daily beatings anymore. I always knew this day would come. I just never realized how quickly that day would be. In my mind, I am still back in vet school waiting to embark on my career. Of course, in my mind, I am also trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. It’s sobering to realize that ship may have sailed.

Still, I’m excited to finally be able to get to those projects I have told myself I would manage to take care of when I retire. I have always been able to use the excuse that I was too busy to tackle some of these chores, such as cleaning out the refrigerator and the closets. Something tells me, however, that I will still find excuses not to do those unpleasant tasks. But at least I can fool myself into believing that these neglected areas of my life will be attended to “when I have more time.” I’m sure, though, I will find other things demanding my attention, like playing solitaire on the computer or lying in the hammock while the sun is shining, that will preclude completion of the odious chores I have vowed I would do when I retire. I may just keep putting them off until I’m too old and feeble to deal with them, leaving them for the kids when I die. It would serve them right. After all, how many years have I cleaned up after them?

I promise myself I will devote more time to writing and (yuck) marketing. However, realistically, marketing and I have never been on the same wavelength, and I doubt I will suddenly become smarter in that area once I have more time. And now I won’t have my steady paycheck from the veterinary clinic to support my expensive writing hobby. I also doubt that once I have more time to try to navigate the intricate secrets of effective marketing that I will hit the New York Times best-selling list and have my books made into block-buster movies, earning me a small fortune. But that doesn’t stop me from lying to myself that I really will develop marketing savvy. It could happen, right?

I also have dreamed for years about just getting in the car or the camper and taking off for a long stretch of traveling, leaving all the hassles of home behind. But with Hubby still working, that scenario is not likely to happen for a while. Unless someone wants to go on a long road trip with me. (Any takers?) But then, with adult children who have yet to empty out my nest (that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms), would I have a house left to come back to?

One thing I fear is that now that I have more time, I will be roped into all kinds of obligations that I don’t want to do. I am easily guilted into saying “yes” to things I will kick myself for later. I am also slow at thinking fast to come up with excuses for getting out of these situations, and I won’t be able to use work as my fallback. But, hey! Maybe I can use doctor’s appointments. For the last forty-two years, I have had to work around my job schedule to try to make appointments for days off or early mornings. This has become progressively more difficult and stressful over the past few years as I have added more and more doctors’ appointments to my social calendar. (Geesh, it’s tough getting old!) But last week, at yet another doctor’s appointment, when I went to make my follow-up, I realized I could do it anytime I wanted without regard to specific days. Wow! It’s pathetic how happy that revelation made me.

So, right now, as I am dealing with a bad case of short-timers syndrome, I am fantasizing about what I will do with all my free time. But I’m too busy to deal with those fantasies. Maybe when I have more time . . .