Chris Core on coronavirus: Not the retirement I planned

Sign stating a Florida beach is closed.
Retired WTOP staffer Chris Core will have to wait a while before accessing the public beach in his new Florida hometown. (WTOP/Chris Core)

Editor’s note: After 11 years of daily commentaries on WTOP, Chris Core embraced retirement at the end of 2019.

You never know what’s gonna happen. You make your plans and you hear God laughing.” -Thomas Rhett, country music artist

On December 20, I announced my retirement on WTOP after more than fifty years of being on the radio.

It was strange to say goodbye, but I felt it was time. I had been planning retirement for years.

My wife and I knew we eventually wanted to live on or near a beach in Florida.

We had traveled around the state for a decade until we found the little beach town, called Pass-A-Grille, that felt like home.

We sold our house in the Maryland suburbs and became Floridians.

As we sat on the beach to watch the fireworks usher in 2020, we were sure that this would be one of the best years of our lives.

And it was for about ten weeks.

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We had friends and family come to visit, went to spring training baseball games, ate at new and exciting restaurants and went for boat rides on the Gulf of Mexico.

My wife found a new job and I began to write for a local newspaper and became a docent at a museum.

It was all working out. Then came a new reality.

Yes, we still live half a block from one of the best beaches in the country, but we can’t use it — barricades order us to stay off.

Many of our newly discovered restaurants are shuttered and some of those may never reopen.

My wife was furloughed from her job. The museum is closed to the public for the foreseeable future. The local paper I was writing for is on pause, perhaps forever.

Like Washingtonians, we spend our days cautiously searching for basic essentials, such as toilet paper, milk and bread.

So far, we still have our health. But at age 71, I know I am considered at risk.

And yet, I can’t really complain.

Yes, my wife and I are confined to a small house, but we aren’t driving each other nuts (yet).

Yes, the dog has fleas but even he is cheerfully coping.

So we are among the lucky, weird as that may seem to us at times.

This is not the retirement I imagined and planned for.

It is, instead, a lesson in gratitude and humility.

A reminder that too often we take for granted the everyday conveniences and pleasures of our daily lives, even our routines.

And it’s a demonstration of how fragile life itself can be.

I hope we all learn from this when we finally come out the other side of this horrible pandemic.

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