Retirement stirs reflections on eternity

Nancy Farley Published:

This morning I slept in as the soft patter of the rain beat against my window. Perhaps I was just more tired than usual, not to mention the fact that the alarm no longer goes off as my husband has retired after 42 years of serving in both the U.S. and the State of Kentucky transportation systems.

Now, the only alarm we hear is the one in our own heads, usually around 6 or 6:30 a.m., but this morning I turned over and went back to sleep, telling myself that I could get used to rising an hour later. 

Maybe it was the emotion of this whole retirement thing last week, standing there beside him, listening to well wishers, those men and women with much younger faces than ours who were probably wishing they too could be retiring. It is quite humbling to realize that you are the oldest person in the room, thinking back to what seems like a short time ago when it was we who were on the other side of that “well-wishing” line. As usual, I was thinking back to how it all began, how I typed that letter for my then-boyfriend back in 1966, enclosing his transcript showing that all-important score of a perfect “36” on the math section in the ACT test we had just taken as seniors, and applying for an engineering scholarship at the University of Kentucky.

Sometime later when he learned he had won that scholarship, I asked myself, “What have I done?” I have just destroyed our relationship, knowing he would be going to Lexington and I would be staying at home for two years attending the Ashland Community College. But, as it turned out, we stayed together those four years, loving each other despite those personal flaws and differences, realizing that perhaps we “opposites” could perform a great balancing act.  We did, and we have survived these 42 years of marriage, and I purposely use that word “survived.” There were some days when I wanted to say, “This is not working,” particularly when he could not/would not see things as clearly as I. Or did he? He is the realist, the logical one, while I have always been the dreamer, believing there truly is a pot of gold at the end of that beautiful rainbow! 

 With that in mind, I saw dreams coming true for so many of our U.S. Olympians, and as you might have guessed, I cried every single time one of those young people stood there, gold medal in hand, listening to our national anthem being played for the millions of viewers around the world. My husband would say their achievement was the result of lots of hard work, but I would and will tell you that it all began with a “dream!” It would take pages to list all of those wonderful songs, poems, stories and screenplays written through the centuries about “dreaming.” Many of those “dreamers” saw their dreams become reality. Truly, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” Disney had it right, and did he ever achieve his dreams! But, I must admit not without some hard work too.

And so this morning as I was going through my usual routine, drinking that first delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee, alone I might add, as my logical husband thinks it is not healthy, I sat in my reclining chair, sipped that aromatic delight, and I dreamed. With all of those emotions from this week seemingly coming to a peak, I formed a giant wish in my heart, actually several giant wishes. I don’t fiddle around with the small stuff anymore, not at my age!  Scenes of the opening ceremony for these summer Olympics flashed through my mind, seeing those young athletes from countries all over the world smiling and marching in together. They represented different cultures, religions and lifestyles, and yet they all came together under that one lighted torch to compete and cheer each other on as they celebrated their chosen sporting events. I wished such an attitude for each individual in the world. And then I took my wish to a higher level, and I prayed that God would light a torch in every heart, one that would shed light on all we need to change and set us on the right course He would have for us – to a place where the heart and the mind can meet, where both dreams and hard work can go hand in hand in hand, not just for “42 years,” but for eternity.

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