My mom is starting a new era of her life next week. She is retiring from 25 years of teaching. I flew up to Nor Cal to go to her staff retirement party on Tuesday and it was so great to see and hear how my mom's friends have such a deep respect for her. I was super proud and teared up more than once as her friends shared stories about her. It was clear to me:
- My mom has navigated 25 years in the secular school district in a way that her colleagues respect her for, even writing a silly song they all sang to her expressing it.
- My mom has a passion to teach and does it well. One teacher said, "She could teach a rock to read."
- My mom has shared her authentic life of faith and family with them, so many of them knowing the stories of her children and grandchildren
- My mom LOVES the kids in her classroom and she is so important to them. They are the reason she teaches. Her colleagues had the kids in her class now and even some former kids write little suggestions and draw pictures about what she should do with her new found retirement "free time". Lots of them wrote about how she should go to Africa, be with her grand kids, and spend time relaxing. One little girl broke my heart though. She wrote in her broken english, that Mrs. Berry should not retire and she should keep teaching because she loves my mom. I asked my mom this little girl's story and she told me she was a little second language girl who had lost her mom to cancer at 5 yrs old. For this little girl, my mom clearly represents stability and hope. What a solid thing for a kid at such a young age in tragic circumstances. Oh I pray this girl finds many more Mrs. Berry's along her education journey in the years to come.
I took this picture of the roses in my parent's front yard on our way out the door to the party and it seemed so poetic. The ending of a beautiful legacy and life of service to her community and the budding new flower of stories untold. I know that for my mom, retirement is not an end, but a new beginning of a new era of adventures.
Here's to you mom and dad. Welcome to retirement. Welcome to the chance to influence your friends, family, and community every day in ways that are directed by your desires instead of the demands of your work schedule. Enjoy your marriage. Enjoy your days. Invest in the Kingdom of God. I for one, can't wait to see how God will use these years of your lives in amazing ways.
Oh... and 3 cheers for frequent flyer miles. Southwest will surely know you by name soon. :)