Joie de Vivre – Keeping the Spirit of Louisiana in the Retirement Years


ER Nurses Extraordinaire

ER Nurses Extraordinaire

 

At the time of beginning the writing of this story, my wife is living the very first day of retirement from a 37 year nursing career.  The plan is to set up a snowbird arrangement between Phoenix and Cincinnati.  The motorcycle has been sold, the house has been ‘decluttered’ and we now have it up for sale. 

This past couple of weeks have been busy ones for my wife.  As I did less than two years ago, she got to experience all the fun ceremonies at work.  Of course, I’m speaking of the cleaning out of the locker, the turning in of the badge, the signing of all the forms and of course the get togethers or parties. There are usually two parties for retirement – one at work with coworkers and one with friends.  We humans have a need for closure and that is what these parties are aimed at; closing a major chapter in life.

Your coworkers say nice things about you and tell you the place won’t be the same again without you in the picture, but then you never see or speak to most of them ever again.  Only a precious few will you ever see again in person.  The same applies to retirement gatherings with friends.  Unless you’re staying put in the same area and you continue to hang out with the same people, you all move on in different directions.  That’s just how it works – you carve out a new lifestyle and your old friends continue working towards the day they too embark on their own retirement journey.

This story’s not about retirement though.  No, all the recent events my wife has been celebrating with her coworkers got me to fondly recalling a few parties we held at our house while living in Louisiana.  I already mentioned a couple of wilder times at coworker parties on my side, (like in this story), but my wife’s crowd could cut loose even better.

 

Daytime shot of backyard pool in Louisiana

Daytime shot of backyard pool in Louisiana

 

We had what I would call a great ‘party house’ in Louisiana – great because it had a nice backyard and large swimming pool and the interior was such that it wasn’t so spectacular that we ever worried about anything getting damaged.  The previous owners just loved the color green and we were always looking for excuses to redo areas anyway.  (The previous owner was a doctor and I like to think he was thinking – green for life).

Kim worked in the ER, (Emergency Room), at Rapides Memorial Medical Center in Alexandria.  I’m sure everyone can appreciate that this work environment can be tense and stressing.  They’re often times dealing with life and death, after all.  I guess this is why when we had the crew over maybe 4-5 times, everyone, (yes, even the doctors), let their hair down.  Do I have a favorite party memory?  I’m glad you asked!

I don’t know what the occasion was, (if any), but on one summer evening just about every ER employee and their spouses showed up for a party at the Wyatt Regency, (aka our place).  As with most parties, it started out in a rather docile manner….but soon escalated.  The instigator’s name was John.  Every party has a John – the guy who always tried to take things over a ‘normal’ level.  The first act was to pick up the biggest guy at the party and to try to toss him into our pool.  Unfortunately, he did this directly next to a thin support beam for our patio owning.  Result – bent awning.

Properly damage alone never stops a party John though.  Party John soon picks up the nearest female and tosses her into the pool.  Summers are really hot and no one wears thick clothing, so let the wet tee shirt contest begin!  Look, we had several of these parties and I knew where this was going.  I quietly slipped into the house where I made my way back to the bedroom.  Once there, I slipped out of my dry clothes and put on my swim trunks, a sleeveless summer shirt and my flip flops.

When I came back outside, I saw a young girl in a very nice dress trying to quietly sneak into a corner where she thought she would be overlooked.  This young lady was a first date for one of the doctors in attendance and evidently he did not give this young lady a proper ‘heads up’.  I warned her, I really did.  I told her, “your only options are to leave now or get wet….no one is safe”.  I wish you could have seen the look of terror on her face.  I still smile when I think about that look and then the look of pure dread as Party John came around to give her the Baptismal dousing.  She looked at me as if I would save her.  I simply said – “tried to warn ya”.  In she went.

Oh sure, my turn came.  I acted like I was putting up a fuss for Party John’s sake.  He was so drunk he didn’t even notice I had on my swim trunks.  🙂  oh darn it John, you got me wet!

So many good memories that night; the train of grown adults up on our big slide, everyone fully dressed and soaking wet, ok and then there was the inebriated guy with the two large balloons jumping off our diving board (as if he had huge breasts).  That party was a late one.  No one was in a rush for the evening to end.  The night was hot and most of us hung out in the pool, sobering up for the drives home.  Kim loved those people and they loved her.  Some twenty years later, we’ve had a couple of them out to our place in California, still friends.

Here we are now in our mid-late fifties, heading into our retirement years.  At least for me, those Louisiana years and parties serve as a reminder that we should always strive for the “joie de vivre”.  Sure, there are many times we all have to be serious, somber.  In fact, I guess most times are, but all of us need and deserve laughter and play.  If I feel it getting too heavy, I hope I’m near a Party John who picks me up and tosses me into the pool.

A link to some actual video footage from one of those nights:

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