Tuesday, December 14, 2010
When it was my turn to speak, I said that when you've worked on admissions materials for that long, you can't help taking pride in the students who enroll. When you've worked on three fund-raising campaigns, you look around at the new buildings, programs, and scholarship funds and think, "I helped make that happen."
For every student who chooses to enroll, and for every donor who makes a significant gift, hundreds of people have worked in thousands of ways to make it happen--not just to reach out to that individual but to create an institution worthy of their choice. That fact doesn't diminish the satisfaction we feel. It's shared work, and shared satisfaction. (When I said that, a lot of people were nodding and smiling in agreement.)
A colleague spoke up and thanked me for hiring her. That reminded me to make one more point: I think part of my legacy is the good people I hired over the years, including six who continue to work there. (I also served on advisory committees that played roles in hiring three others, including the president.) Finally, I reminded everyone that I live just three miles away and expect to stay in touch. (I know, everyone says it. But I will, with some of them.) I think I ended with something funny that got a good laugh, but I can't remember what it was.
There were gifts (a fancy international desk clock, some things to enjoy with the grandkids, a stash of chocolate, a bottle of lemoncello, and a lifetime supply of purple pens), and a book in which my colleagues had pasted messages from many people, and in which party guests wrote greetings of their own.
Several times during the party, I felt a little wave of relief and joy. "I'm done; I can relax now." I totally enjoyed talking with all the folks who came. Some were very special to me, including a former Macalester president and vice president, and one of our major donors. The grandkids behaved charmingly, and every time I was asked "What will you do now?" I could point to them. The Alumni House was decorated beautifully for the holidays, and the food looked elegant, though I didn't get around to eating any until the last few minutes. Eventually we packed up the gifts and cards and drove home, where I blogged about how tired and happy I was.
Thursday morning while reading the book of messages, I had my one twinge of nostalgia..It was gone in a flash.
I was smiling as I pulled away from the curb and noted that it was exactly 5 p.m. No twinges of sadness, no emotional welling up. Just immense satisfaction.
Peter and I went to dinner at Olive Garden so I could celebrate in the happy glow generated by my favorite cocktail, their strawberry lemoncello martini. He said, "I hope your retirement is everything you've hoped for."
I said, "It's here, and for now that's all I need!"