I'm tired. And beginning to really feel my age. Not to worry you, FS and other family and friends, but I am at an age where retirement is beginning to look pretty attractive. Not that I have quit loving my work---quite the opposite: I love it as much as ever. But I'm at that point in life where I realize that I don't want to work forever.
My first job, at age 12, was babysitting, which I didn't much like. When I turned 13, my dad taught me to drive a stick shift and I went to work for the same pea farmer as all the other Athena girls my age, driving big open-air truckloads of peavines from field to viners, for 85 cents an hour, 12 hour shifts. It was hot, dusty work and we loved it. It seemed logical that the boys driving swathers and loaders made $1 an hour; their job was a little more demanding---they had to fix their tractors when they broke down, while we girls just sat and waited for the field boss to come fix our trucks.
It wasn't always a safe job, either; sidehills were dangerous places to drive alongside a loader and feel the peavines shooting out of the loader chute against the high side of our truck beds. Sometimes the load would stack up unevenly against the high side, making the truck lurch precariously onto two wheels. Hills that were really steep required bulldozers to pull the trucks up the hill vertically instead of risking a tipped-over truck and injured driver.
But it was my job every summer until I turned 16 and got my driver's license. Then I could add wheat truck driver to my resume' and began to earn $1 an hour for 12 hour shifts, on top of the pea harvest pay. Peas came first, in June and very early July, and then wheat ripened in later July and August.
From that early work experience grew a strong desire to be employed in something at all times and I worked pretty much non-stop from then on: strawberry row boss, receptionist, book store salesperson, dorm counselor, snack bar hostess, welfare worker, missionary, teacher, counselor, minister. From age 12 till now is 57 years of Puritan Work Ethic, giving the best I could manage under a variety of conditions, always with responsibility hanging heavy on my mind. No wonder I'm tired!
And the prospect of retirement, of fulfilling a longtime dream to move to the Oregon Coast and live out some of my days, is more and more appealing. I will hate to leave Whidbey Island when I retire, but collegial guidelines will demand that of me, so that the new minister doesn't feel the competition of my presence in the community and so that congregation members don't feel tempted to turn to me instead of the new minister. That's the hardest part of leaving a congregation behind---saying goodbye.
But I'm thinking I will make the decision to retire within the next couple of years, maybe sooner, and help the congregation take the needed steps to prepare for a new minister, figuring out the financing, the search process, the infrastructure necessary to take this large step in the life of the congregation.
When I retire, I want to do it right. I want it to be at a good time in the congregation's life, if possible, and in my life with good health and strong energy in me to enjoy the years of new leisure time. I want to try something new---being a docent at Haystack Rock, working with community theatre, volunteering at something new, walking the beach every day, even in the rain. I want new shorelines, bigger waves, real tide pools, few deadlines. Maybe I'll write something besides sermons and newsletter columns!
At this point, it's just a gleam in my eye. But it will happen when the time is right.