May Day -- my favorite holiday -- Library staff hosted a retirement party for me. It was purely wonderful. In addition to co-workers, there were board members, commissioners, the Mayor, book discussion friends, Historical Society friends, Pearls of the Prairie friends, Women in Business friends, librarians from other communities, the State Librarian, and of course, family.
Fortunately, I did not have to speak -- except to the wonderful individuals who attended -- and there were plenty of hugs to go around. But this whole retirement thing is hugely introspective. It is fairly easy to become self centered where there is so much thinking, cleaning, re-organizing your life for the next twenty years. The word that keeps bouncing in my head is "JOY."
For more than 30 years, I have had the privilege of working in a joyous community. My library jobs have offered me daily contact with people I like. I have had the opportunity to learn new things every day.
In Buffalo my joy was creating summer reading and working with history. I established a Friends group and a Foundation for the library. And I worked with Nancy and Mary, a reference genius and a storyteller extraordinaire. They set the standard for me for life long learning and determination.
In Wheatland my joy was learning history from the southern end of the state and becoming involved in a totally different community/county. Farming, railroad and irrigation were a far cry from cattle war and tie hacks. There were four libraries in the county, and each of them had different personalities. Ruth, Julie, Betty and Lee are still at those libraries, continuing to make them essential parts of their towns.
In Gillette my joy has been based on the energy of everyone who lives here and the excellence of library skills. I have learned to drive faster here. I have learned to appreciate the unique skills of every employee. The importance of regular contact, continuous job training, the nurturing of new hires, have all become part of a routine, which I do enjoy.
It has been my good luck to meet and work with thousands of people during my career -- not all of them have been joyous, but the majority surely have been. I have worked in small libraries where I needed to know everything and do everything to a large library with seven departments with managers who are way more than competent. That is a true joy.
In preparation of my move from Gillette to my Buffalo home, I have sorted through a hundred boxes of accumulated memories and junk. That process was not joyous, but some of the things, those reminders, have been pure joy. I now have a long history of my own, and my finale is full of joy.
Thank you all for sharing my journey.