When my real countdown began I had over one hundred days left - plenty of time to clear off my "managing director" desk, sort out the myriad files and shelves of reference books (you know - those "I might need them some day" ones) and train the team of people replacing me. I slowly moved my in basket further and further from my office door until it was hidden on the darkest corner of my desk. I forwarded inquiries that would require weeks of input to those who needed a real life example of what I do did for the past many years so they could hone their skills! I cleaned out files and then I cleaned out more files and then........well, you get the picture.
I took time to remember - special students, challenging students, interesting characters and crazy projects - and then, I filed them - well, the paper they produced anyway! The shredding box filled up, the recycling box was soon overflowing and my garbage was bursting with everything else not coming home with me.
Today I waved to my colleagues on their way to a morning meeting about a new contract and thought - "how strange I am not at that table this morning!" A little twinge of loss flitted through my heart but quickly disappeared as I continued on through campus. The sun was trying to shine and I stopped to check on the raspberries in the little garden near the kitchens that just a few weeks ago were filled with students learning their trade. I felt a little bit of the excitement our graduates feel as they prepare for the next phase in their life.
I imagine that tomorrow I will walk - not ride - out of here with nothing but my lunch bag and my memories. The door will gently close behind me and I will smile. No grinding pain as I say goodbye to this phase of my life - there is a new world just waiting to say hello! The Beatles will be more likely in my head than Dale Evans - a little Hello Goodbye as I walk across campus one last time. I expect procedures and processes will quickly fade but the sense of purpose, the satisfaction of making a difference, the thrill of being that "door opener" for those seeking to change their life through education - that I will keep in my heart forever! So goodbye to the every day and hello to tomorrow - "you are only a day away!"