When I return to work on January 2, 2013, I will be doing many things for the last time.
I spent much of my life as a stay-at-home mother and unpaid assistant to my teacher/principal husband. But since 1999–when my husband retired(!)–I have been working at my denominational headquarters. It has not always been easy. There have been times when reorganizations made it very difficult and–sometimes–made me wonder if I was even in the right place.
But there have been many good times as well. I have made many, many new friends. I have been privileged to do some traveling–mostly in the United States, but still to some places I had not been in a very long time. I have been challenged (and yes, pushed sometimes) to learn new technologies, and this has allowed me to do things I could not have imagined ten years ago. I have had opportunities to play a couple of magnificent organs on a regular basis. I have had opportunity to go back to school to study theology. There are undoubtedly more positive things that I will think about as time goes on.
As in all of life, however, there comes a time for another change…and 2013 brings one for me. I face mandatory retirement–and will have to retire by the end of 2013. When I first became aware of that, I’ll admit I kind of freaked out. That had not been in my plans! The more I have thought about it, though, the more excited I become about other new possibilities. I’ve fulfilled some dreams…but there are others that have been put aside for various reasons through the years. So now…maybe the chance to fulfill them?
I will miss the various challenges and responsibilities I have had. I don’t know how (or even if) my position will be replaced–but I know that this next year I will be creating a notebook full of all the things I do so that if/when someone steps in to fill my shoes, they will at least have some ideas of how to start. I’m not going to create the notebook with the expectation that my current job responsibilities will be covered in exactly the same way I do them–but there are so many things that I do that I want to make sure that someone has an idea both of what I do and how those responsibilities need to be filled (or reassigned…or whatever…).
I will also miss the friends and comradeship. There are some individuals I will be continuing to remember in thoughts and prayers because of our close connections–and my concerns about them perhaps having to take on additional responsibilities when they are already swamped.
But I confess…the closer I come to retirement, the more exciting it becomes. And so…as I go back to work, I will look at the things that I am doing for the last time as the blessings they have been…but I will also look forward to another exciting future.