I graduated from high school in 1969 and soon after realized I was at the beginning of a life of responsibility in the work-a-day world. I remember it well as I was on my first job in construction as a carpenter helper at the then new Weyerhaeuser Pulp Mill in Vanceboro, NC. Sitting out in the back of the site where the water filtration systems were being built, I looked over the dikes that would hold the water during the different stages of eventually being allowed back in the river thinking about how everyone I knew younger than I were going back to school that September day.
Eventually I was laid off from there later that fall and went to work at Hatteras Yacht Works in the Research and Development Department. Don’t think I was some boat designing wizard. I was the one who ground fiberglass, cut wood, sanded and painted. In the spring of 1970 I went to Castle Hayne, NC and went to work with Daniel’s Construction once again at the site for Diamond Shamrock. It would produce chromium for chrome plating. Unfortunately I left there that August to report for duty in the Army. September a year later after my revelation I was sitting one early morning in total darkness in Louisiana at a bus stop for the bus that would take me the last leg to Ft Polk. After graduation I moved on to Ft Sill, OK, the a short stay at Ft Jackson, SC. From there to Germany for nearly a year and a half of duty which while there I rose in rank to Spec 4 and had been before the E-5 board before leaving the service. My commanding officer tried to get me to re-enlist to attend Warrant Officer’s Flight Training and likely should have, but Vietnam was a sure tour for a pilot at the time, so I decided to go home.
I started back to work with Daniel’s Construction at the DuPont plant in Leland, across the river from Wilmington. Eventually I worked with Western-Southern Life Insurance Company as an agent. Didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t for me, so a friend and I applied to work in the plant at DuPont. I was told only one in ten applicants were hired, but my friend and I both were hired. I lost 60 pounds the first six month I was there. From that you can imagine the rigor this job imposed on me. There was not an inch to pinch during the eight years I was there. Then God intervened in my life and I sold my house, quit my job, moved to Richlands and committed myself to preparing for ministry. I went to school for this for several years afterward while owning a business and then managing another business afterward. I began preaching and teaching during this time and became a deacon and care pastor to my own little flock of people. I played in a worship band for 25 years and eventually retired from that while I was managing a print shop and computer network at church. This burned me out and I had to walk away from it all. During this time I left the store I was working and went to work as an assistant manager of an Auto Zone, but was fired from there because, well, I’m opinionated as to how a business should be ran. I got my come uppance later when I found the manager that fired me was fired as well for mismanagement. That was what my complaint was about with him. I went to work with a bakery as a “bread man” rising to District Manager for the bakery within a year, even with having tried my hand at long haul tractor-trailer driver in the mean time. I left the bakery when Civil Service offered me a job at the Naval Hospital so I took it, losing a tremendous amount of income, but God assured me that I should take the job and he would restore all I would lose. And he did.
So now, twenty-four years later, I hear the call of retirement outside my door, but there are obstacles to overcome before I do. I will get over and or through this as I’m not a survivor. I’m an overcomer. I’m very well-trained in principles of overcoming. I have set my sight on the age of 65. If the United States can survive the next three years of this presidency I will retire with enough to live well without extra income. This will eliminate entirely the obstacles I have to overcome. I will no longer then have anyone demanding from me, job or otherwise.
Now, retirement knocks at my door. Before I had decades of work to look forward to. So, what do I have to look forward to now other than dying? Lots. I have Libby, I have a wonderful life. She and I have rededicated our lives to God and His service. We have places we want to travel to and visit the sites. I don’t want to sit still and become depressed. I want to utilized the tools I have collected over the decades of work and training I have gathered. I have value. Libby has value. Together we can give and then give some more. I would encourage everyone to never stop learning. Find your spiritual self and explore all the realms of life available to you. Learn from the past as much as you can. Sow seeds of yourself that others may reap in their lives the values they gain. It’s humanity’s necessity to pass itself along to others are coming up along behind us. Don’t let them walk aimlessly. Give them something to focus on. That’s what is there to look forward to for me. How about you?