One of her best posts (for me at least) is talking about why she is going to these meetings, despite having given up her lab. It is a beautiful tribute to the science that underlies medicine. I have taken her words to heart and will use them when I teach the first year med students, who by the end of the term are sufficiently jaded to question why they have to learn basic science.
I had another, very personal reaction to her post, as she spoke about leaving research. She's not as old as me (I think), and is certainly working hard at other important & valuable things that an MD can do. And, importantly, from her writing, she is enjoying what she does.
I've seen lots of models of how to age in this world in which we live. I know people, in their 80s still scientifically & intellectually active. I'm not talking about the big dogs, hogging R01s. These are people writing up the last things they have to say. Not funded (so relax, my genX friends), but still thinking, still engaged. One of my early mentors, in a different field, in a different life, quit at about age 65. He left the Big City University, bought a house in a small town in the middle of Lake Michigan, and with his artist wife, lived another life, very happy life.
I've seen people who have stayed too long at the dance, the academic equivalent of drunk and ill and socially ugly. Lonely, but not knowing what else to do, until someone had to ask them to first give up their lab, then their teaching. Some of these people had early dementia, some who had other health issues, some were just tired, but didn't know what else to do.
Then, there was my friend Bob. Bob was a single dad, who had not been well treated by his -ex. He raised two great kids with whom I am still good friends). He rediscovered an old love, renewed the love, got married. But he had a job in one place and she in another. They were mid-50s, and didn't quite have enough money to retire. So they lived apart, saw each other as possible, launched their kids. Finally, after about 3,4 years, his love retired and moved to where Bob lived. They were happy. They had a new-to-them house. Just them. Bob was trying to figure out how to swing retirement, so they could do things and not be tied to the academic year. He gave up his lab, tied up his research loose ends. He was a great teacher, but told me he was teaching for the money, and wished he didn't have to. His teaching was great and he did the intro classes no one else really wanted to do. He had Plans, but they were a year or so off. And then he died. Suddenly. In a silly, stupid, horrible accident. He and his love had had dreams, but they were not to be.
I do not want to die in the saddle. I do not want to stay too long at the party. I do not want to have dreams and plans and die before I get them to them (although if I die, how will I know?). Yet, right now, I still have some science left in me. I still have lots of ideas. I have trainees who I think I am helping. But I also have an incredible partner. I see the models, but none seem to fit. Right now. Right now.