When we were living in Denver with our three young children, I once sent Hannah into our terraced back yard to see what her little brother might be up to. After a few moments, she came back in and reported that he was "happy as a gorilla." Well, it didn't take long for that hilarious phrase to make into our family lexicon. Whenever someone was pleased and content with what they were doing, they were described as being "happy as a gorilla."
That little saying actually describes me these days. I've just started a big freelance assignment for my former employer, the Nemours Children's Health System. I get to do many of the things I liked best about my job and not have to deal with with office drama, frequent meetings or labor-intensive special events. I can come to work in my PJs if I want and work when it's convenient for me. Nemours is based on the East Coast and I am in Texas, but it matters not. I can communicate through phone calls, email and PDFs to get the job done. In fact, in my nine years at Nemours, I worked with a talented designer in Jacksonville, FL to publish a bi-annual, 16-page magazine, as well as many other publications. We always made it work despite the distance and enjoyed our working relationship.
So it was with pleasure that I dived right into the task of evaluating the patient stories currently running on their web site. Many are outdated, with the patients now college-age. In fact, a large proportion were written by yours truly! I sorted through nearly 80 stories and decided which ones should be discarded. Then I pulled stories from back issues of Together magazine and other sources. Existing stories will need to be edited and updated. I will be interviewing patient families to glean new accounts of patient care. I always enjoyed the interview process, learning about families, their child's condition and their medical treatment. Editing web content to make it more readable and concise will also be part of my work, as most people are reading content on their phone, rather than their laptop or desktop computer.
In some ways, I guess I've flunked retirement. I like to stay busy, whether its caring for my three grandchildren, doing a sewing project like making keepsake pillows out of my mom's wedding gown or writing this blog. Like the old saying goes: "if you rest, you rust." I have no intention of rusting and hope to keep writing as long as I can, happy as a gorilla.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.