I had forgotten that December 17th is my 12th anniversary of retiring from Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. I was reminded of Facebook which showed me a lovely note that my good friend and colleague Elizabeth had written me 12 years ago. I can recall the surreal feeling that I had on that day. I had been employed by the University since the age of 20. Throughout those 32 years and 2 months and 3 weeks, I had been involved in many of the currents of University Life and I had relished my time there. I thought as I stood listening to my Director Phil and University President Poshrd say nice things about me…where did the time go… Any success that I enjoyed can be directly attributed to the wonderful people who worked with me.
On December 17, 2010, it seemed that I had just begun to fight and it was already time to move on to the next phase of my life. Through the grace and good wishes of so many of the University Community, I enjoyed all of my years with SIUC. Everywhere I turned there were people who wanted to help me and who were so complimentary of my efforts. I could never give back to the University all that it gave me!
I knew poverty and impoverishment and I wanted to help others who were marginalized and unseen and unheard. Nothing made me feel more of purpose and that I was accomplishing in some small measure what God would have me do than when I was able to offer a fellow human being a career in the economically challenged confines of Little Egypt.
So my retirement years have been good with life’s challenges along the path. MJ and I and our wonderful sons; Aaron and Jonathon…and now Mylo the Maltese are having a good life and excited about the next adventure. The joy is in the journey. Christmas is a week away. It is my favorite time of the year. I have many pleasant memories of the Christmas Seasons past. I wanted my memories of my retirement to be during the Christmas Season.
Stop and smell the roses along the way. This is not just a cute saying…it is the truth. Live your authentic life. I have lived the majority of my days portraying myself. I neither attempt to ingratiate myself with the powerful nor put-on aires with my friends. I remember the man on the Commodity Truck throwing the commodities on the ground and my dear mother picking them up so she and I would have something to eat. The Commodity Cheese is quite good but I could not tolerate the Dried Milk and thus saved my pennies until I had a dime at which point I would walk over to State Street and purchase a glass of cold whole milk from the corner restaurant.