Blog Post #23
January 9, 2013
Well it's been just about a month since I've been placed on medical leave from work. Yesterday the good folks at NCJW New York Section gave a party in my honor for my years of service. Like anyone newly retired or facing retirement or in my case long-term disability, the thought of not waking every morning to go to work is somewhat disconcerting. I look forward to sleeping in late, except my body clock now goes to bed by 8:00-9:00pm and wakes up 2:00-3:00am. I won't miss the deadlines, but I'll miss the prep, which is for me, kind of like therapy. Designing flyers, spreadsheets, and such help to massage my artistic needs and, pardon me, my anal needs. I'll tell you what I'll really miss. I'll really miss the people. Ninety percent of my job was being bathed in people. I can't imagine working in an environment without people. My careers in theatre and social work have given me a rich understanding of the human condition from "womb to tomb, sperm to worm."
Yesterday was a really special day. Very emotional. Very loving. Very transformative. Seeing the Cafe at the center packed to standing room only was an incredible feeling. The Co-President of NCJWNY, its executive director, staff and Council Lifetime Learning Committee prepared a wonderful gathering and made speeches that at times made me blush, tear-up and laugh. The clown frown was in full bloom, which is my way of holding back tears. Being appreciative doesn't quite tackle the feelings running through my brain like a footballer dashing down the sidelines in a blur. Members, volunteers, and staff lined up to share their feelings, to reminisce, to cry a little, and to laugh a little. As each person connected with me, little films of each person ran in my mind like a retrospective as I remembered them in their classes, events, and offices. City Council Member Gale Brewer, whom I've had the pleasure to collaborate with on many projects, was on hand and presented me with a City Hall Proclamation. I've been honored before by the Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani administrations as well as by other elected officials mainly for my work with youth. As a community organizer I've received awards and honors from colleagues and from organizations I've worked with; but this, this proclamation was the cherry on the cake. I am most proud of my work at NCJW NY Section and Council Lifetime Learning because, in a way, my work represents a full circle. Like the Riddle of the Sphinx. My career started humbly in community theatre at the age of 19 and ended in a pool of people at age 56. I look forward to the third stage.
Extra special was the presence of Jacqui and Joy to share this moment with me. I only regret that my own children did not experience this moment. There is video, but video doesn't quite capture the moment. Only one's brain can recall the full sensory moment, the smells from embraces and hugs. The light kisses on the cheek. The salty taste of tears. The sounds of smiles. All pressed into my mind like flowers in a book to recall later while reminiscing. That's what makes this gathering a truly transformational moment. As Lou said, "... today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth."