Now don’t get all hot and bothered. I’m not getting ready to write about a very personal aspect of my life. Wild horses couldn’t drag that info from this old lady. A sexagenarian is simply a person between the ages of 60 and 69, and 69 is exactly what I became on Wednesday, May 6, 2009. Next year, I won't be one, so I feel compelled--by what I don't know--to write about these past years.
My official entry to the sexagenarian decade came in 2000. I remember having thoughts about that far away year when I was a child. Surely no one would even be alive then! The twenty-first century? Impossible! But the century changed, and so did my life, mostly for the better and crammed with lots of fun:
· September 11, 2001 changed everyone’s life, not just mine. I was at a McDougal Littell sales meeting in Chicago when disaster struck our country. Thank goodness, I didn’t know anyone personally in the towers or on the other planes, but I knew people who knew people. Every American and many others all over the world grieved for America. Since all of the airlines closed down, we attendees in Chicago got on chartered buses and headed home in all different directions. Maybe someday I'll write about that experience, complete with pictures.
· In June 2003, Frank and I, somewhat like the Beverly Hillbillies, packed up everything and moved west . . . to Cerrillos, New Mexico. Could a sixty-three-year-old Florida girl from a relatively large city find happiness in a village of 200, where she knew no one? Would she ever have friends? Oh, yes, think "yes" to both of those questions. We love our new digs, and we have friends galore. At Frank’s 75th birthday party on September 14, 2008, about 125 of our closest friends and family joined us for the celebration. Happiness abounds at Two Rocks and a Hubcap! The name for our home is fodder for another post.
· Also in June 2003, my McDougal Littell friends in Florida gave me the big retirement send-off, thinking they’d never see me again unless I made a pilgrimage back to Florida or they made the long trek to New Mexico. Retirement didn’t last long for me . . . 79 days, to be exact. I just couldn’t bear the thought of these little schools out here not having someone visit them to sell them the new textbooks. So I became a per diem consultant sometime in September or October of 2003, traveling the highways and byways of New Mexico for the next five plus years and enjoying every minute (well, almost every minute) of my time with teachers. For one year—the 2004-05 school year—I was the sales rep for our state. I loved that year! I’m much better at sales repping than I am at being a per diem.
· The fall of 2004 saw the organization of our Bible Study group in Cerrillos. Every Sunday morning, Frank leads our study, and I make sweet biscuits for our fellowship time. One of our members, Glenn, devours so many that we have re-named them Glenn Biscuits in his honor. We gather each Sunday from 8:30-9:00 at Wendy and Todd’s house in Cerrillos for study, spend another hour in fellowshipping, and then Frank and I head to Santa Fe to Rodeo Road Baptist Church for worship. Appropriately, Wendy has named our group The Renegade Bible Study because we are something of a rebel group. We’re a bunch of Christians who love the Lord and love to study His Word, but we’re not associated with any denomination, though I’ll have to admit, Frank and I are such died-in-the-wool Baptists that our beliefs creep in. If they go too far, though, our friends are quick to rebel. You see? We’re renegades.
· The fall of 2004 also saw the biggest blessing of our lives since 1986. Wendy was pregnant again. Corey was born in the fall of 1987 (on Halloween!), and Jackson would come in the spring of 2005. He arrived on May 21, just three days before Wendy’s 42nd birthday. We never thought we’d have more than one grandchild, and that was fine with us because we love Corey so much; however, with the addition of Jackson (named for Frank and Jay), we found that we had a whole “nother” heart full of love to shower on a grandchild. We are doubly blessed!
· June of 2006 brought one of the most exciting months of our lives: Corey graduated from Santa Fe High, and the next day we left for a three-week tour of Europe visiting our European family in Germany, Croatia, Switzerland, Holland, and England. No room for details here. Just know that we visited all of our “daughters,” one “son,” and “sisters and brothers” that we have accumulated during the past twenty plus years and that it was our Dream Vacation. I wrote a book of pictures and memories when I got home and sent each one a copy. What fun I had in getting this thank-you gift ready for them. I think they liked my gift.
· The travel bug really bit us that year, and in 2007 we were still feeling the bite and headed across the Atlantic for another three-week trip, this time to Ukraine to visit Irina and her family. Another great trip with all of our time in Kiev, at the home of the Andrushenkos (my favorite part!), and on the beaches of Yalta. We have been truly blessed by friendships with so many Europeans. I can’t imagine our lives without them. As many of you know, Irina is truly like a daughter to us, and we love her parents and sister for being so willing to share her.
· I’ve already mentioned Frank’s Big Birthday Bash in 2008, but I didn’t tell you that about twenty of those in attendance were his brothers, sister, nieces, nephew, one sister-in-law, and cousins from all over the U.S. (Washington, California, Montana, Connecticut, Florida, Maine), plus friends from Mississippi, Georgia, and Croatia. We hosted the first Young Family Reunion since 1940. It was right here at our house in Cerrillos. What a grand time we had! Someday I’ll write a post about it. Just a couple of things right now, though: Everyone sent old family pictures, and Wendy made a lovely slideshow for us; Bob rode his motorcycle from Florida to NM; several of our neighbors opened up their homes to our family so that they could stay out here instead of in a hotel in Santa Fe. Our friends Ivana and Andrea from Croatia stayed a bit longer than others because they had come such a great distance. Andrea went home after a week, but Ivana stayed for two weeks, and there wasn’t a minute of dead air the whole time she was here. I even took her on the road with me because I had to go back to work. She was great company and a tremendous assistant!
And now I’m to 2009, right now. The biggest event of 2009 for me is that I’m getting ready to hang up the van keys for good. When I first mentioned that I’d retire at the end of the school year, many friends and family members said, “Yeah, right. You’ve said that before, but we know you’ll never retire.” I assured them that this time I would. I don’t think they knew how smothered it made me feel when they doubted me. What if they were right and I really wouldn’t leave the company? What if I’d be leaving home at oh-dark-thirty, heading for Roswell before my eyes were really focused just so that I could be there to talk to a teacher during her planning period at 8:30 for the rest of my life? I wanted out. I wanted to stay at home, not to be a couch potato, but to work with Grace in her editing business, to get myself on a writing schedule, to be here for Frank, to play with Jackson whenever I jolly well pleased. When they doubted me, I just wanted to scream! Without going into the negative thoughts that I've sometimes had about the company that I’ve worked for for the past couple of years, I’ll just say that I’m ready to “be shed of” it. I’ve loved the people that I work with, just not the company in general. If our company had remained just plain old McDougal Littell, instead of the merged company that it now is, I'd probably have worked till I dropped, but I didn't need to do that. Just as I didn't want to teach so long that someone discovered me dead in the classroom one morning, hunkered over a set of papers that I had been grading, I didn't want to be found on the side of Hwy 285, doing my best to make that early appointment, eyes still glued to the road and hands cemented to the steering wheel of my old red van.
So . . . I’m beginning my last year as a sexagenarian with a smile on my face and lots of goals in mind. I just love a new beginning!