Do You Miss Being the Representative?

Published in the Springfield Republican/Westfield-Agawam edition, Sept. 18, 2003

Do You Miss Being the Representative?

Of course.

I'm sitting under a huge photo, a panorama, of all 159 members of the house. I can go from face to face, I can name every person, and I miss all of them. All of them are friends, Democrats or Republicans.

I miss making people happy. Example. When I called Police Chief John Camerota last year to ask if he wanted anything in the budget, he told me he needed motorcycles. I managed to get him the money, so officers can get through traffic when construction on the Great River Bridge starts.

Solving the problems the average citizen had with state government - car registration, Title 5, deadbeat dads, and subjects you wouldn't even think about - was equally important.

And, the bridges. All of them. Great River, Little River, Horton ... I worked with Senator Mike Knapik to get approval and funding for all of them. They are all being built. My favorite--the Great River Bridge--is, finally, going to be a reality.

The list goes on and on and on. Working in the beautiful State House, being part of the oldest continuously operating legislature in the country, all the pomp and circumstance. And, a great parking spot.

Of course I miss being the Representative.

But, there is life after retirement. And I prefer to use the Mexican word for retiree, "jubilada." It is more gracious.

Yes, I am enjoying my life in Mexico. It, like the legislature, is a challenge. The language, the customs, the geography. Everything is a challenge.

Take driving. To make a left hand turn, you pull off the road to the right and wait for traffic in both directions to pass, and then you make a sharp left and get on the road you want to take.

After dark, many Mexicans drive without headlights, claiming they can see better. In addition to the hazard of cars without headlights, bulls love to sleep on the highways because the roads are still warm at night. Hitting a bull is deadly, for both of you.

How about signs that tell you not to leave rocks in the road? When cars break down, drivers often don't have jacks, so they put rocks under the car, then drive off when the problem is solved. The next driver hits the rocks and, well ... driving is a challenge.

How do you say "nails" when you go to the hardware? I carefully looked it up in the dictionary. Went to the hardware store and asked for "finger nails." Language ... another real challenge.

Finding doctors, contractors, caraway seeds, car washes. The things we take for granted in the United States. It is challenging, but good. I think challenge keeps you young.

Why, many ask, did you go so far away?

I think my replacement needs time to be himself, without any second guessing. And my second guessing would drive me nuts.

I want to live somewhere where no one knows my name, as the song said. It doesn't matter what I did in my previous life. I am who I am now.

I had my life as a broadcaster, as a representative, and now ... "jubilada."

I am happy now. And I was happy being a Representative.

Do I miss the job?

Of course.

But I don't regret my decision not to run for a fifth term.

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