You don’t think of your end until it draws near and I don’t mean death. Retirement can mean a good 20 or more years of “ending.” The thought of six, seven or more years until that time has an ominous feel to it as though we’ll become a different person; we’ll digress from “is” to “was” in the blink of the midnight’s minute. I know friends who couldn’t wait for that ball to drop – says something about their jobs. If your job is not a job but a career than that passing minute while you sleep redefines your life.
“Was it worth it?” is our persistent minds asking the worth of its length. 30 or 40 years of doing something ought to amount to something? Whether 1 or 12 jobs during that time deserves a recognition of some sort and it doesn’t matter if you walked out the door alone on a Friday afternoon or drove home in a tux after a farewell party with 200 people. (The former is more likely the case.)
Some of the “was’s” have stories where students or associates return to thank them for whatever affected their lives because of the “was’s. They are heartwarming and meaningful.
Retirement often means retelling episodes and escapades as though they happened yesterday in spite of the passing forty years. The stories can be recounted again and once again in an effort to validate or prove once again that the stories happened. (I hope I don’t do that but instead recall an episode of mine in thirty seconds or less.)
Transitions suck because they change what we are. I know many people who remain an “is” in retirement and I know even more who became “was” because the “was” becomes the “is” of their lives. I feel sorry for them but act as if I’ve heard the story the first time.
When that “is” door closes behind you, you have no idea (and will never know) whose lives you’ve touched. The “is” or the “was” is up to you to simply appreciate the adventure and mystery that unfolded for you during those many years. My dentist told me that a bartender at his club told him how much a priest named, “Fr. Joe” meant to him in returning to the Catholic Church. My dentist told me that I should know this because he knows that it’s me.
Whether it was me or not my title here says it all. Carol Burnett pulled her ear at the end of each show to tell a relative of her love and Bob Hope’s theme song was “Thanks for the Memories.”
The rest is up to me and the stories I wish to tell either as a “was” or an a “is.”