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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 31, 2002

Life's lessons don't stop just because you're retired

By Glenn Sakai
Special to The Advertiser

Ah, retirement finally is here. After 30 years of teaching in a public high school, I've finally made that crucial decision to step down and give another teacher the privilege of bestowing an education to our youth.

Think about all your teachers who actually taught you something of value, something that made you a better person, and the teachers who made a difference in your life. Funny how each of us have such vivid memories of yesteryear, of times gone by in our youth, of love lost, friendships that have gone astray, people who have walked in and out of our lives, and especially, those who have left this life. Each phase of our lives is written in memory.

I leave behind many memories from Leilehua High School, including the students who brought so much pleasure in my life by being honest, respectable and kind.

The teachers and staff who became my friends will be missed. Each morning I drank my coffee with the cafeteria staff. Occasionally, our gang would hold a "stress management workshop" at Dot's, where we would share our classroom experiences.

Funny how I thought my retirement would allow me the freedom to just do nothing. Instead I am up before the crack of dawn, prepping for the evening meal, and greeting the spectacular sunrise on my daily walk. After all chores are complete I am off to Kimura of Hawaii, a custom fishing-rod business, to help with the tons of paperwork and listen to the many fishing stories of customers and friends who frequent owner Joe Kimura's shop.

I am home just before dinner. Erlynn, my youngest daughter, helps me by setting the dinner table. When Mom and the girls return home from a hard day's work, dinner is ready. Mom, Erlynn, and my older daughters, Kelly and Kerry, each share their experiences of the day.

Funny how retirement has given me the golden opportunity: substitute teaching at Pearl City Elementary. I've always respected elementary school teachers and now, after substitute-teaching there, I have an even greater respect. Thank you to all the students in Tracie Shimaura's fifth-grade class and Shari Suzuki's sixth-grade class.

Funny how I look forward for a new day with a different perspective. I want to travel the world and taste the richness of foreign cultures. A return trip to Japan would be delightful.

Funny how I have friends of different ages. I've formed friendships with wonderful people since my retirement. My fishing friends Ryan Nishioka and Korey Amioka, both in their 20s, my brother, Henry, and I have just returned from a fun-filled trip to Vegas. Another Vegas trip is on our calendar in November. The disparity in age made no difference in our relationship because of our common interests in fishing, eating and traveling.

Another fishing friend, Clyde Tojio, Joe Kimura and I continue our quest to find the ultimate culinary experience during our lunch hour. My daughters' friends often spend a weekend evening searching for the "da best" izakaya, or Japanese bar/restaurant, with my wife, Jean, and me. How am I going to lose weight?

Funny how retirement can bring so much pleasure, so many challenges and so many treasures of friendship.

Glenn Sakai lives in Pearl City.

Hawai'i Ways, Hawai'i Days is a column of essays by readers on what makes Hawai'i unique. Send your article of 500-600 words with your address and daytime phone number, and address it to Hawai'i Ways, Hawai'i Days. E-mail islandlife@honoluluadvertiser.com; fax 525-8055; or mail The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Sending a headshot of yourself is optional. Articles and photos submitted to The Advertiser may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.