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Lessons From Vacation - Retirement of Your Best Friend

A few weeks ago, I related to you that my wife and I went on vacation in August for a couple of weeks. We took the trip to Colorado, and then we had various friends and family come out and visit us there. It was a no-television vacation. I did a lot of cooking, relaxing, and reflecting.

The vacation was a little more significant in that a week after we got back, my wife, Barbara, was to retire from her job at the Department of Children and Family Services (it used to be SRS). She had been there for over 25 years.

My wife and I met after the very first year of law school. It was the summer before our second year. We were both taking a course in commercial transaction. We dated for the next two years, and then married in September of 1980 after graduating from law school in May.

I have only known her as a lawyer or as a law student.

As you may imagine, two lawyers/spouses can have animated conversations. Particularly, during the law school years, Barbara was very hard on me. I was a terrible writer, with terrible writing skills. That is not a good attribute for law school.

I would write a brief for a class, or for my job as a law clerk, and Barbara would go through it with her red pen. She would challenge my thought process. By the time we graduated law school, I had actually become a pretty good writer and could argue effectively in appellate briefs.

Throughout the years, Barbara has been my sounding board. While we respect client confidentiality, we would exchange the dilemmas our clients or employers were facing. Much of that occurred right after work, but more especially, right before I left for work in the morning. That time from about 7:00 in the morning until 8:00 a.m. was a time for us to talk about our upcoming day, and what we were struggling with.

Barbara is ready for retirement. I am just not sure I have wrapped my head around the idea that she’s no longer going to be a practicing attorney. In a way, I think it has been harder on me to accept that she is at that stage.

I understand now, maybe for the first time, the impact it may have on a person when their best friend retires. I do not think you can help keep from wondering what, if anything, will change in the relationship?

DCF hosted a very nice farewell gathering for Barb on September 7th. As I expected, Barb held her emotions well, almost.

I strongly suspect that one day soon, Barb is going to be into some new project, and frankly, I would not be surprised if it was somehow law related.

I do not think that there is a good or bad time to retire. I think it is up to the individual person. I am not there yet. Watching Barb retire, I realized I am not there yet. But I did get a feeling of urgency that there are some things that I want to get accomplished before that day comes, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

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