by Phyllis Galowitz
Two years ago, we gave up our busy, working life, to retire to this gorgeous spot. We found an easy-to-maintain, carefree house; not too much garden to take care of but just enough to give us a little creative satisfaction. The living room was bright and sunny, perfect for reading and finishing all those handcrafts started years ago to relax my mind and fingers from the sometimes frenzied pace of bringing up four children and running a large house. When I was finally finished with that (children all grown and gone), I helped Alan in his photographic business. Working there was a welcome change from my previous life.
Again, there were long hours and never a moment to spare. I would get up to the ringing alarm at 5:20, six days a week; dress, have breakfast, clean up and suffer the panic of barely making the train to the city. My day started with a swim at the “Y” and the mile walk back to our store, where Alan was already busily engrossed in the day’s adventures. He welcomed my arrival to relieve him from dealing with the customers so that he could concentrate on the more technical aspects of the business. Besides the restoration of old photos, which he loved doing, there was usually some kind of catastrophe occurring: a printer not showing up when a very important job was due; the film machine breaking down when there was a load of film to be developed and the serviceman “couldn’t come until tomorrow.” The city, without warning, chose to shut down the water supply while repairing a water main break; the computer was down; the cash register was not working and on and on. I think he enjoyed the stress of keeping the business running, and I loved dealing with the customers, keeping the books up to date, keeping track of orders, preparing the old photographs for copying and doing the finishing of the restored photos. There was spotting, hand -coloring, inspecting, packaging and many other details which I enjoyed doing, and our days were busy but happy.
We thought we’d go on like this forever, but that was not to be. We both began to have warnings that it was time to change our lifestyle. To ease the disappointment, our first idea was to buy a big, old house where we would live and continue to do our work in a more relaxed atmosphere, concentrating only on the restoration of old photos. We discovered that that was not the right answer and after only a year, sold our beautiful old house and retired completely.
I looked forward to making all those recipes I had been cutting out of The New York Times for twenty years, working on my needlepoint, llistening to music, taking walks on mountain trails, and reading, reading, reading!
My first encounter with the Andes Public Library was “love at first sight.” It was small, but there were certainly enough books for me to read. I felt that it was calling me to help keep it going, so I volunteered. Finding that it was fun to be a volunteer (doing what you want to do, when you want to do it), I went on to the Thrift Shop and The Gazette. Alan became interested in The Andes Society For History and Culture. Our days seemed to be filling up. The recipes are languishing, the needlepoint progressing very slowly; even reading was relegated to a small portion of the day. There is gardening, walking, and swimming in the beautiful pool I had discovered in nearby SUNY Delhi. We made new friends. Our life had taken on new meaning. It is full and satisfying. Maybe in the next chapter, I’ll have time for those recipes or maybe on cold winter days when we aren’t going snowshoeing through a beautiful mountain trail; maybe then there will be an hour to spare. I hope our lives are long enough. ~