New Chapter

Amid a flurry of good-bye lunches and well wishes, my husband retired this week, concluding 39 years of employment with the same company—a rare feat in today’s world.  I’m proud of him.  Our daughter and son-in-law came home to share the joy.  We celebrated with his favorite dinner and dessert, a movie, and three rounds of his favorite board game. Our son phoned from China with congratulations for his father—and news about his own brightening career. We’re off to a good start.

But everyone’s gone home now, the house is quiet, and the hoop-la is settling.  Life is getting back to the three of us—my husband, our faithful dog, Reilly, and me. Excited and happy about this new season in life, we’re also a little anxious.

Like two teenagers from the sixties, we’re already glancing sheepishly at each other, wondering about the next dance step in our combined schedules.  We’re considering the new song in the jukebox, wondering whether we should start with the twist, or swing, or try a little slower Foxtrot.  If you’re not old enough to know what I mean, just guess.

Come Monday morning, I’ll finish my devotions, down my second cup of coffee and settle in to write a new chapter in my work in progress.  But, when I look up, ready to daydream my characters through their scene, I’ll see my husband’s smiling face.  I’ll smile back, because that’s what we do.  But, my story characters aren’t used to that—having someone else in the house.  I’m afraid they’ll rebel—private sorts that they are.  I can “hear” the rumble of mutiny—which means trouble with the muse.

For all the years of our married life my husband’s gone out to work, and most of those years I’ve worked from home, and/or worked part-time outside the home.  So, we’re trying to figure this out—this “let’s-be-together-but-not-joined-at-the-hip” thing. We have plans for time to work together as well as work separately, and a plan for time for fun.  But these have not been implemented, and my brain is not quite there yet.

Our grown daughter smiled knowingly and said, “Mom, some people say that the retirement years are the best years of their lives.  Maybe you and Dad will become even better buddies.”  I nodded approvingly, sure she was right.

But, I’m not retired.  I’m just getting started, and I’ve a lot of stories to tell—to write.  So, I guess that’s what I’ll envision retirement as—a new chapter—a work in progress—maybe a new genre altogether.

Like any good book, I don’t know the ending.  So, gradually we’ll plot a synopsis (develop a plan).  But, we’ll allow enough room for the story (our future) to unfold organically.  When we come to those inevitable twists and turns, I’m determined to approach them with the faith and grace expected of my story characters—trusting each other, and most of all trusting the One Who gave us each other.

Ahhh . . . Now that I have the “bones” of this story, I can breathe.  It makes all the difference.

What about you?  Are you facing a new chapter in your life?  Job or loss of job? Health issues?  A move? College?  Empty Nest?  Children?  Wedding?  Teen years—your own or your child’s?  Retirement?  Life without a loved one?

Perhaps it will help to think of major life changes—whatever they are—as part of a great book, a new chapter in the story of your life.  Plot your novel with your own unique style of mystery, adventure, perhaps a thread of romance.  Know there will be conflict–all good stories have conflict.  Plan for a strong take away culminating in a happy ending . . . definitely a happy ending.  See where it leads.  If you don’t like that projected story or its conclusion, begin making changes by prayerfully tweaking your synopsis a little at a time.  We’ll share the eraser.

How about a glass of iced tea on the porch swing?  We’ll pick a fresh mint sprig from the garden.  Retired or not, let’s take a moment to savor this summer’s day.

I look forward to seeing you here, in the garden, next week.

God’s blessings for you,

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  • Annette says:

    🙂 This made me smile. My dad retired from the same company in March after 39.5 years! Last night my sister and I had a surprise retirement party for him with the help of his wife.

    New chapters are always interesting. Looking forward to hearing how the two of you find your balance.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      39.5 years! Wow! That is such an achievement and cause for a family celebration–Congratulations to your dad! I’m sure he loved his party and especially your thought and love behind it.

      Now I’M smiling–I’m looking forward to seeing how we find our balance, too! ; )

      God’s blessings, Annette!

  • How wonderful that your chapter is a happy one! You have a great relationship and a strong foundation in the Lord. I know you’ll adjust to this new phase.

    I faced a new chapter, an unwelcome one, when my husband passed away 5 years ago. After a rocky beginning, the grief/health/financial challenges are finally giving way to a joyful rhythm.

    God gives us grace for each season of life.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      What a testimony, Susan! You give full meaning to “God’s grace is sufficient” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Thank you for sharing this and for being so faithful in your journey!

      We’re gradually finding our stride, and look forward to developing that “joyful rhythm”–such a perfect expression–thank you!

      God’s blessings for you!

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