Last updated September 2013.

Retirement - The Joy of Freedom

2012 was an emotional year for me. My mother celebrated her 100th birthday in April with a wonderful party including all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as nephews, nieces, cousins, friends and colleagues. In June she fell ill while my husband, Mike and I were clearing up my office, closing my practice in New Jersey and moving to Massachusetts, and I flew to England to be by her side as she died. There were so many good-byes – my mother was the last of her generation, and at the same time it was good-bye to patients that I had known for many years as well as friends and colleagues in New Jersey.

We decided to move to Massachusetts when it became clear that our older 2 children, both married with children, were settled there and that if we wanted to be involved with our grandchildren we needed to be closer. Chatham, at the elbow of Cape Cod was the obvious place to go because we had enjoyed many family vacations there. We bought a house on a lake there when we sold our home in Summit in 2008. This meant commuting between New Jersey and Cape Cod for 4 years which was exhausting. It was a relief to finally be in one place and took a while to recover and settle into life here in Chatham. We love the beauty and peace of our home looking out over Lovers Lake. We love the quaint old town of Chatham and the greater “English” feel of New England. The drawback is that it means starting from scratch developing friendships and professional contacts.

Life Member LogoMy husband worked at Bell Labs for 20 years and knew several colleagues who have already moved here. The Marconi Maritime Museum, where he now docents, is a great meeting point for scientists. A number are involved in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) project to enhance science education in our schools. I continued my membership of APA and AACAP and have joined SEMPS (South East Massachusetts Psychiatrist Society) which has monthly meetings with good speakers. There is a small group of child psychiatrists which holds additional meetings separately.

Retirement has brought a wonderful sense of FREEDOM after the trauma of closing my private practice. One suddenly realizes that as long as one has responsibility for patients there is always a low level of anxiety somewhere at the back of one’s mind. Now that anxiety has gone and wellbeing and relaxation takes its place. I have been working on a pilot program which we started in New Jersey providing telephone consultation to pediatricians and family physicians who are seeing children with mental health issues in their offices. I love to be able to use my skills and experience to help others without having the responsibility of ongoing patient care. Currently I am talking to various school systems about doing some school consultation as well as reaching out to other mental health professionals regarding the need for supervision. While still in New Jersey I had volunteered with the Red Cross and with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and I have connected with the local organizations here. Being free I was able to return to New Jersey to help out for 10 days after Hurricane Sandy and in April this year I went to Boston to work with the Red Cross after the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Here in Chatham we have more time with our children and grandchildren which brings us great joy. Retirement has also given us a chance to pursue our other interests. My husband has planted a rose garden which is his pride and joy. As a third generation woman doctor I am doing some work on my family history. My grandmother trained as a doctor, responding to the desperate shortage of physicians to treat women in India, and becoming Physician-in-Charge of the Women and Children’s Hospital in Calcutta. Later she became interested in the work of Sigmund Freud and trained as a psychoanalyst under Abram and Ferenczi.

We love to explore new people and places and celebrated our retirement by travelling for 6 weeks in Thailand, Burma and Australia. Burma was especially fascinating because it is only just opening up to the west and the contrast with Thailand was striking. Mike and I are grateful to have good health and energy. In our generation we are extraordinarily fortunate in having the option of retiring or of working part time so that there is time for family, friends and hobbies.

By Margaret Tompsett