We all look for beginnings in our lives. They're exciting and offer new opportunities.
But they're hard to find. They're hard to find because we're looking in the wrong place.
Before we can find our beginnings we have to find our endings.
This week my wife will retire. I will retire before long, too, but I will continue writing this column.
Retirement is an interesting word. To some it means to withdraw or recede.
Wife: "That's not what it means to me. Retirement isn't about drawing back. It's about moving forward with your life, going after new adventures, learning, discovering, and growing as a person. It's not a retirement. It's a commencement. What does retire mean to you?"
Actually, to me retire means going to bed. But I didn't think it was a good time to tell her that.
Wife: "Before you retire you need a plan. I plan to do a lot of volunteer work. I plan to read and travel. I plan to meet new people, do new things, join organizations, and spend time with our children and grandchildren. There's so much I want to do I don't know how I'll find time. Now, what's your plan?"
Me: "I plan to sleep late and watch old movies."
As it turns out I need more than a plan before I go into retirement. I need a wife-approved plan.
Me: "How about if my plan is to take all our retirement money and use it day trading in the stock market?"
Needless to say I'm still working on an approved retirement plan.
Me: "I thought retirement was for old people."
Wife: "Retirement is a time for us to enjoy life while we're still young enough to travel and do things. Didn't you think you were going to retire one day?"
Well, yes. But I thought retire was what I would do when the tread on my Michelins got too low.
Actually in retirement I'd like to spend my time pretty much the same as our 11-month old grandson, Alex.
Alex gets up in the morning, eats, and plays and takes a nap. Then he wakes up, eats and plays and takes a nap. Then he gets up, eats and plays and goes to bed at 7 p.m.
The reason granddads and grandsons get along so well is we function best on the same schedule.
I guess retirement is kind of like buying a lottery ticket. You dream about hitting it, but you never actually think it's going happen.
One day you're a young kid going to work for the first time with dreams of conquering the world. And the next thing you know you're in the Social Security Office totally confused about what they're talking about.
Work has been a major part of our lives. Jeanne and I met through work. She was a Purdue University student. I was working at the Journal and Courier. She interviewed me for a class.
I didn't see her for several years after that until she stared working for WASK radio in Lafayette and eventual came to the Journal and Courier where she worked for seven years. In 1980 we started dating. I can remember one special night. We were both working late on a Saturday. She had put everything she had into a beautiful piece of writing. To make it fit I edited it down to almost nothing.
She married me anyway. Eventually. But as I recall l had to do some pretty fast talking.
When we married we were together at the newspaper sharing the joys and sorrows, triumphs and frustrations of work and life. She became assistant city editor. The Journal and Courier switched from an afternoon to a morning edition and she was assigned a night shift away from me and the children.
So she went to work at Purdue. I remember writing a column about it and saying how much I would miss looking across the newsroom and seeing her beautiful face. I got points with her mother for that one.
She was spokesperson, Director of the News Service, and then director of public information at Purdue. For 29 years she poured her heart into her work -- night and day and weekends. And through all that time she was also the best wife and mother a family could have. No one knows more than me what she gave to her family and to her work.
I started at Purdue in 2000. We were working together again.
In 2003 our youngest child graduated from college leaving us empty nesters. Like a lot of empty nesters, we used our extra time working even later hours and more weekends. Work becomes all-consuming in our lives. We do it, we talk about it, and we worry about it.
And then all of a sudden it comes to an end. On Friday Jeanne will retire. She's already devoting herself to the First United Methodist Furniture Bank she started, helping people in need throughout our community. There is so much more she has planned. It pretty much wears me out just to think about it.
So you've come to an ending, Jeanne, and you're arrived at a beginning. Congratulations. Wonderful times lie ahead.
Endings and beginnings. One follows the other like night follows day and day follows night. But Jeanne there is that one thing in your life that will never end. Yet it begins fresh with each new dawn.
My love for you has a new beginning every day. And it will go on forever.
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