I have no power, nor do I want any. I have no real money, nor do I want any. I have retired from a regular job and I am content to sit on my patio eating barbeque ribs for breakfast and soaking up the last of the morning sun.
Already, my daughter has been catapulted into what I used to think was the real world. Her summer vacation has begun but she is besieged by needs and thoughts of the Fall and the work that the calling of teaching has placed on her life.
Nobody is more aware than me of how important money is and how attractive power can be. In fact, you need a lot of one and a little of the other to get to where I am now—a place where neither matters anymore. Now I am in a place of simple gratitude.
What am I grateful for? I am grateful for being clothed in my right mind, though as my sister says, some would question how “right” my mind is. I’m grateful for a reasonable portion of health and strength. I’m grateful for the thirty-four years I paid into a system that allows me, now, to collect a percentage of my salary even as I sit on my patio.
I’m grateful for my husband and the two kind, loving daughters we raised together. I’m grateful that even now they are plotting to surprise us with something wonderful for our anniversary coming next month.
I am grateful for the little dog, Alexis (Lexi ) Mims, that my oldest daughter and I share joint custody of. Lexi gets me up and out into the brisk air on the mornings that I have her. She is a little Bichon/Pomeranian who, to my dismay, may never become fully housebroken. Just when we think she’s got it, she squats inside. Without her though, my legs might never get the workout they so badly need.
I’m grateful that we bought a house we couldn’t afford, stuck it out, and made it work. Our daughters received a quality education, and experienced a variety of economic lifestyles. They are equipped now to choose the lifestyles they desire.
To anyone who views us from the outside, it looks like we had it pretty good, but my husband and I often joke about having to count the cookies. When the girls were little, we didn’t take vacations or buy new cars. My husband had to rise at 4 a.m. for 20 years before he was promoted. He never took days off and was never late for work because on his job, being late meant you didn’t work that day.
Eventually, I became a principal and received some of the power to change things that I so badly desired. With power came the knowledge that there is always a higher power. You still have to answer to someone, and work is always work. It’s even more work when you are the bottom line.
So now, I watch the yellow school bus drive by my patio to deliver the little ones from half day kindergarten to their homes in the new part of our development. I am grateful to the young couples who paid a quarter million and more to build homes all around my little house making it jump in value.
I am grateful that hardworking neighbors who I’ve known for 17 years own most of the homes in the two or three blocks of the “old part” surrounding me. They are retired like us and their children, like ours, want no part of the boring suburban life.
My barbeque ribs have been eaten, my flowerbeds deadheaded, and I have exchanged information with my neighbor across the street who will be driving downstate to say farewell to a cousin who is terminal. That is another part of my reality. Friends and loved ones are leaving here. I am grateful that God didn’t see fit to take me on retirement day.
I thank God for allowing me to sit on my patio and enjoy the cool breeze, ice-water, chirping birds, leisure time, and the slow pace that has become my new reality. I am transformed by gratefulness. No hustle and bustle. No rush-rush. I’m so glad I’ve lived to experience this new phase of my life. I’m grateful!