I have been retired for eleven years from the University of Texas at Austin. I will always remember the date, January 31, 2001. My friends and acquaintances gave me a wonderful farewell party with gifts and cake and as usually happens at those type of things at least for me, when it came time to read this great speech I had written, I choked up and had to turn away leaving all of my parting words of wisdom unspoken.
It matters not as with most retiring people, they are only missed for as long as their usefulness to the company is exhausted and then they become a mere memory. Oh, close friends may miss them but with the absence of the physical body, the spirit is not much of a presence and as time passes, so do the memories.
This is how it should be as none of us should live in the past. Just as I am a forgotten person at the place that I worked for 21 years, so too are my thoughts and feelings about that place. I am grateful that I get a very rewarding pension and the hospitalization plan is excellent but I have not thought too much as to my former workmates and only on the not very infrequent occasion when I run into someone from the past at the supermarket or such, are memories and acquaintances renewed however temporarily.
I may be an exception to the buddy thing preferring to act out my life with current friends rather than memories of older ones. When I think back over the years to my friends and the people I grew up with at Huggletts Lane, Dennis Baker, Radford and Ivy Upfield, John Holman to name a few that I grew up with through age 11 all of those years ago, and then on through the years to all of my soccer playing buddies and there have been hundreds of them, my workmates in my early jobs, all of the people who have touched my life one way or the other, it is a seemingly impossible task to remember them all. At some point or another, many of them were special but they applied to one particular moment in time even if that time lasted years.
Even now in my life, things are still changing. I have just ended the part of my life helping to run the Austin Mens Soccer here in Austin after more than twenty years and all of the wonderful people who I have worked with, I have quit playing so will not get to make any more on the field acquaintances or renew existing ones, I am getting to the end of my coaching career with the River City Rangers after many years and will no longer be running into other coaches and kids that I have worked with. These are all activities that have consumed a major portion of my life and have involved hundreds of people many of whom, I am glad to say, I consider to be a friend, but, as time passes and I move on to the next chapter whatever that may be, I wonder how much friendship will be left? I would guess that in truth, not very much and what there is will be restricted to an occasional coffee or maybe a meal… for old times sake.
That doesn’t mean that life is over. Every time I meet a new person, then I have just made a new friend. They may only be temporary but as we go through life, we are constantly making new friends and leaving old ones behind and very few are lasting. Those that do last are to be cherished as they are special, very special. But in truth, in this modern world of hustle and bustle and constant activity including moving from one place to another, friends are mostly of the moment. Very few will not be forgotten and most will fade as time goes marching on.
Do you want to be my friend? All I can offer you is the here and now, no tomorrow…