Isn’t that the truth? No matter our age or station in life…one fact is certain and that is that life goes on.
I recall my elated feelings upon my retirement from SIU. In fact, for the last year of my employment…I was the guy that was soon to be retired. I was busy making travel plans and imagining what my new world of, six Saturdays and one Sunday, per week was going to feel like.
Over Christmas dinner, my buddy Ron, told me that I would love Jamaica, which we were traveling to in early January of 2011…and that we would enjoy the all inclusive nature of the Sandals Resort.
As I was watching the Jamaican bartender mix my Dirty Martini, which is my favorite mixed drink, I remarked to him that I had never seen a bartender make a Dirty Martini so, rich, with vodka? He laughed a hearty Jamaican laugh and responded that Jamaica was a ‘booze country…man!’
During our week in Jamaica we visited Dunns River Falls…where we climbed a waterfall. The moss covered stones were slick as glass. Many of the steps required the climber to lift their legs higher than their chests. I slipped…to many times to count…and Ron ran about the steep mountain of water and dangerously slick stones…like a mountain goat.
I thought that I might die?
When the climb was completed I gave our guide a healthy tip and when I was asked why I gave him so much, I responded that he had hauled my big body up the mountain and that I probably owed him more.
Needless to say, I required a Jamaican mixed drink after Dunns River Falls!
It has dawned on me…more than once…since I retired, that for everyone that was not retiring…it was just another day at the office.
I have actively watched as my university…suffered the failure of the state of Illinois to produce a budget for two years as well as poor and divisive leadership…that has exacerbated the problems, rather than worked to solve them.
Our retirement cruise was to the Mediterranean and we enjoyed it immensely in May, 2011. We visited Genoa and Tunis and Barcelona and Palermo and Nice…as well as spending a week in Rome.
At the Monte Carlo Hotel, that we stayed at, in Rome, the waitress asked me if I wanted water, con gas, or still. I had no idea what she was talking about and politely told her that I did not require, gas, but rather water…and she stared at me and I at her.
We took a private tour of the Vatican with our guide, Sergio. What a wonderful and illuminating experience. It was a special tour that we have ever taken and Sergio explained each piece of art and architecture to us in detail.
When we visited the Sistine Chapel…an lady kept shooshing Sergio as he endeavored to explain the majestic art of Michelangelo to us..in whispers…as Vatican staff, dressed in black, constantly admonished all visitors to silence.
Sergio, became angry with the shooshing lady, when he repeatedly tried to explain to her that he was a private tour guide and it was his job to explain to his guests what they were seeing.
We had dinner at a Ristorante that was just a couple of blocks away from the Monte Carlo and to arrive there we walked by may foreign embassies with armed soldiers guarding them.
When we ate there on our first night in Rome and the first night of our Mediterranean vacation, our waiter was simply delightful and he fixed us his speciality, that was not on the menu, and it was heavenly! At the conclusion of the meal I left him, our customary 20% gratuity…and he followed me into the street and beseeched me to return to his establishment. I promised him that I would when we returned from our cruise.
The breakfast at the Monte Carlo…was to ‘die for!’
Served, in buffet style, was Genoa or Volpi salami and exotic cheeses and flaky pastry and Nutella for everyone!
And, then, we returned home. I wished that there was something more that I could contribute to my ‘second home’…SIUC.
I was so pleased and honored when I was asked by Carolin Harvey, the president of the civil service council, to be the council’s representative to the SIU chapter of the State Universities Annuitants Association.
After 40 years of association with SIUC I think of of my university…daily.
I think of my colleagues at Building Services and worry about them…in a multitude of ways.
I see my colleagues from the Physical Plant and I appreciate the fact that they have such a wonderful director, Brad Dillard. I know that Brad is working for their betterment and to move the university forward.
I hear from people, and they tell me of struggles and hurts and bullying treatment…that should not be.
I wonder if I had worked a few more years…if I could have helped a little more?
Life goes on…but it is all connected.