For several years I wrote, as director of YSB, a piece at this time of the year which thanked all those who made it possible for YSB to help children and their families succeed: our staff, foster parents, volunteers, board members, donors, funders, collaborating agencies, and the kids and families themselves. It requires so much work, dedication, and support from everyone involved to accomplish the difficult task of protecting children and keeping families together. It was easy to work right past the simple act of telling people you appreciate what they did to help both me and the organization. I know I did so plenty of times. So at least at Thanksgiving, if not throughout the year, I made a conscious effort to simply say thanks. I want to say that again. For the first six months of this year I enjoyed the support and hard work of all those around me at YSB, and it meant a lot to me. Thanks for everything you did to support both me as the director of YSB, and the children and families we served.
But this year I want to add another note of thanks. Thank you for letting me go. Thank you for not calling me, relying on me, involving me further in the work I did so long and wished to leave. I miss many of you, but I appreciate the distance. I hope you understand.
Beginning July 1st, I began to realize slowly, and more clearly, that there is a whole universe of people outside of work who have made and continue to make a difference in my life. It starts with my family, who realized I was going through a big change by retiring and supported me in doing so. My wife led the way, getting me to the finish line, over the finish line, and off to the sideline. My kids check in on me more often these days. I’m very thankful I have them in my life.
My extended family, especially my siblings, are there for me as they have been all along, and as the last among them to retire I’ve learned a lot from them. My brother from California is moving home to Illinois at the end of the year and I look forward to spending more time with him. I’m thankful we’re close to one another.
People and organizations that may not always realize their importance to others have grown to be very important to me. I’m thankful for my church in many ways. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve as a volunteer there, as a member of the choir, as a member of one of the boards that will shape its future, as part of the Wednesday night book group, and simply as a member of the church community. I thank my pastor, my choir director, those I serve with on trustees, and those in the congregation that count me among their friends. It means very much to me. I think my life would be much poorer without church.
I‘m part of an organization called I Care International which conducts optometry and vision clinics in Latin America where eye care is scarce or non-existent. They’ve allowed me to become more active in helping plan a mission in February to Trujillo, Honduras. I’m thankful for that opportunity. I am thankful for the old friendships, the new acquaintances, and the camaraderie we enjoy as we put this clinic trip together. It’s great to be part of something where no one is paid a dime yet give so freely of their time.
I’m thankful to old friends and old friendships I neglected for so many years. I’m thankful for their forgiveness and generosity.
I’m thankful for this shack I’m in right now. I’m thankful for everyone who helped me build it. I’m thankful for the quiet, the ravine outside the window that separates me from my neighbors, the trees that surround me. Did I say I’m thankful grateful for the quiet? Let me say that again. I’m thankful for the time and the quiet to think, to not think, to simply live and breathe, eat and sleep.
I’m thankful for living in a country that maintains a social security system which makes it possible for me to quit working , earn nothing from my labors, or labor not at all, and still have sufficient money to live in community. I would be remiss if I was not equally thankful for reliable and trustworthy financial advisors, stable banks, and investment companies that took care of savings that I forgot I had, could not have cared less about, and yet created further support for me now that I’m earning nothing. I’m thankful to live in a country where retirement is allowed and possible.
I hope one day everyone experiences life in a community that knows you. That’s what I experience when I leave the place here on Caton Road. I’m thankful to everyone who wishes me well. They ask me how I like retirement. That question is less frequent as the months go on, but I appreciate everyone’s concern and good wishes just the same. Thankfully I’ve made the adjustment to sloth and idleness rather easily, thank you, and am happy to report I’m enjoying every minute of it.
I’m thankful for those of you who read this blog. Each comment I get inspires me to keep writing, and reinforces my hope that you may one day read a book I put together. I’m on that. It’s a challenge, its slower than I thought it would be, but it’s coming along.
I have a lot to be thankful for and I’m trying to express it. Thank you. I hope your blessings are many and you feel supported and thankful this Thanksgiving. The way to make sure everyone experiences that? Go be part of a community. Support those around you. It has a way of coming back around.
And finally, I’m thankful you read this piece all the way to the end.