And so it happened 2



Phil with bagpipes in workshopPhil Dives into Retirement (3)


A series of articles about transitioning from a very structured professional life

By Phil McCavity




And so it happened. My dental practice sold and I am now semi-retired and no longer the boss. My ‘hairy eyeball’, once an effective deterrent to a bad idea or a poorly chosen comment from staff, has lost its former authority. I am not consulted for my opinion or asked to sign a cheque or complained to if a payday error has been made. This is all very good. I didn’t want to do any more of that stuff anyway.


Meeting, greeting, and moving on

We had our meet-and-greet to allow patients to meet the new dentist, and it went very well. As I had anticipated, most of the 200-odd people who showed up were older long-time patients who came to say goodbye and thank you to me as much as to say hello to the new fellow. Much to my horror, I had some difficulty remembering some of their names. And, much to my surprise, I did not resort to any emotional displays.  I was rather afraid of tearing up; becoming tearful makes me an incomprehensible conversationalist. A blubbering idiot.  Anyway, it didn’t happen. I did get a lot of handshakes and hugs, bottles of wine, champagne, and another bottle of scotch. The young dentist did me proud, he was friendly and chatty and gracious. His wife and three little boys came along too, and the people could see that he is a normal person with many of the same life challenges as the rest of them, the same kind of guy as me. It was a very satisfying evening and it reconfirmed for me that I am doing the right thing. I have been looking after a lot of people for a long time. It’s time I started looking after me.


Clearing the decks

Alright then, what am I actually going to be doing for me? Well, I had a January 31 deadline to submit a recorded playing test for the pipe band I play with. Just got it done today with a lot of help from my computer-savvy younger son. The licencing body for dentists in Ontario decided a few years ago to require all dentists in the province to complete and pass an online exam, every five years, testing our dental knowledge. The process started two or three years ago. I thought I might dodge a bullet here, but I did not; my name was drawn.  I completed that exam a couple of days ago. Right near the end of my career my knowledge is being tested.


What’s on the horizon?

My wife wonders when the production of woodworking projects will start from my new workshop. I ventured that I felt that the point of the workshop was not actually to mess it up with sawdust. Sadly, it was explained that I was mistaken. There are closet built-ins at the top of the list, and a couple of other cabinetry projects. In fact, there are doorways, doors, soffits, and fasciae to replace on the barn. I have trails to blaze at the back of the farm and dead trees to fell. There is mid-week skiing and golf to experience. There is a bicycle trip to train for, and running races to sign up for. There is a banjo looking to be played.

And there is bagpiping. I hope to finally have the time to learn to play tunes that require more time to master (okay, ‘mastership’ may not be exactly attainable) than I previously had. As I was driving my son back to school tonight, a thought occurred to me:

Will I be a bagpiping woodworker, or a woodworking bagpiper?



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