By now all of the young people whom I work with, and their parents have heard officially from me (via US Mail) that I will officially retire (Graduation?) from the position of Youth Advocate for the Town of Dartmouth (MA) by September 30, 2015.
This has been a tremendously difficult decision to make for me personally, professionally and spiritually. Unlike many people who have worked in one position for thirty-one years and can’t wait to leave and retire, I have loved my work and continue to enjoy the work that I do greatly each and every day. However, having just turned sixty-five, it seems that the timing is right for me personally and professionally. It’s also a favorable time for the Dartmouth Youth Commission, the town agency that I work for, which is now in its forty-seventh year of providing support to the families of our community.
Once I knew in my own heart that the time was nearing, I shared this with my family members, then with the members of the Dartmouth Youth Commission, followed by my administrative superiors.That was the easiest part.
But sharing the news individually with clients, with parents and with young people who attend our support groups was the hardest of hard work ever for me. (Meaning, I’d rather talk and walk a kid through a serious crisis than share the news that I’d be leaving in three months.) There were tissues, anger, sadness, “how comes,” and the hardest of all…silence from more than a few. For decades I have counseled and helped young people to understand change and to cope with loss and grief, and this time with the news of my departure I have hand delivered a slice of it to each of them myself.
● “Kevin, you need to buy more tissues.”
● “My mother said she wasn’t surprised because you’re getting old.”
● “I’m mad at you.”
● “I can still make an appointment to see you though, right?” (No.)
● “Everyone has to retire sometime, Kevin.”
● And my favorite…from a second grade boy in a compassionate tone and with a serious face said, “Maybe after you retire you will have more time to practice getting better at playing the Marble Works Game?”
So far, comments from adults have run the gamut from heartfelt joy, jealousy, words of wisdom to playful jabbing:
● “I am so happy for you!”
● “What? You’re leaving us here with all this? Thanks a lot!”
● “Your grandchildren will see more of their grampa.” (They will)
● “Are you sick?” (No. And I’m prayerfully thankful for that.)
● “What will you do? Play golf?” (Seriously? No.)
● “Where do I send my resumé?”
● “I know you Kevin. You’re not retiring. You’re graduating. And good for you.”
● “Take it from me, Kevin. I’ve been retired eight years. And once you announce your retirement, everyone will have an opinion on what you should do next.” (Dan, you were right!)
Come fall and for the year to follow my plan is to take on no new thing. At least I’ll try not to. My passion for writing and photography will move from jammed in here-and-there pursuits to a daily devotion to and practice at Rise This Day. While I am still becoming friends with the word retirement, I know in my heart that I am ready to graduate. And I know too that any one of our six grandchildren living nearby will, come fall, be ready to hone my skills at the Marble Works Game.