BEGINNING MY EDUCATION

Ending my career in city management signals the beginning of my education as an old human. I suppose it’s not really the beginning, but rather the start of the substance of the remaining curriculum –something like a graduate degree in human relations. My primary teachers will be my grandchildren, who now number 17 and will soon increase to 18 in August. I know my wife has also been working on her lesson plans for whatever time I have left.

I have two step-grandchildren who I don’t know very well, and they may not have much interest in their newly acquired relative. They seem like nice young people, though; and I hope they can give me some guidance about relating to my younger, teenage grandchildren. I have blotted out memories of my own children’s teenage years, and I would like my new experiences to involve less pain. As much as I love my grandchildren, I am occasionally reminded that they are little humans with the same failings we all share. Still, I’m looking forward to some good backpacking trips and other adventures during the summer months.

More time to hang out with young people also means more time to hang out with old people. I made a decision not long ago that I wouldn’t make any commitments for the first six months of retirement, in an effort to just relax and enjoy the reduction in responsibilities. Not long after that decision, I received a call from a Canadian cousin asking me to attend her birthday celebration on – you guessed it – the first official day of my retirement. Canada seems like such an attractive place these days that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to scope it out and reestablish connections. Within a few days of the Canadian call, my wife informed me we would be taking my mother-in-law on a cruise in the Mediterranean in October. My last cruise was courtesy of the U.S. Navy in 1974, and I have never had much of a desire to repeat the experience. Cruise ships do not appeal to me, but going on the trip will give me a chance to complain about it for years to come. This trip also involves a reading list that I’ve been told I have to complete over the next few months.

All of this sounds like I will be living a life of leisure in retirement. After paying for the two planned trips, I might be found at the local Walmart greeting customers. Proposed cuts to U.S. foreign assistance programs and the deconstruction of the State Department may end my career in international development. Most of what I have done in developing countries has been as a volunteer, and I’m sure I will continue to do that as the opportunity arises.

I will try to avoid writing any more about my retirement in my remaining eight columns and focus on important things like the new city budget, the transition to a new manager, city challenges, and new opportunities. Many good things are happening in the City right now, and there is no shortage of inspiring events and people to highlight.