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Retirement: Parties, Opportunities, and Attitude

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Throughout our time in the AF, we threw lots of parties.  Monday night football parties, roasting pigs in our backyard parties, Christmas parties, promotion parties, New Year’s Eve parties, No Clown Punching parties…. the list goes on.  It should be no surprise then, that the advent of our retirement from the AF after 22 and then-some years would be celebrated with a party.

The two of us spent a fair amount of time coming up with a theme for our retirement party.  Not theme in the sense of “everyone come dressed as a pirate”, but theme as in, “What are we celebrating with our party, and why?”  This was important to us.  We weren’t celebrating leaving the AF, although we were ready to leave.  It was not because we disliked it or were forced out.  We weren’t celebrating a high-paying new job with better dental benefits, nor were we celebrating not moving again.  In fact, by the time we held our retirement party, all of our belongings were in a warehouse awaiting our arrival at our new home in another state.  No, we felt strongly that we needed to celebrate what the AF had been, but also the opportunities open to us in our new, post-military life.  So, with that in mind, we decided the theme of our retirement would be a celebration of three concepts: “A job well done, A Heck of a Ride, and Looking forward to the Next Stage”.

It was an awesome party.  The speeches were short, but meaningful.  The slide show showed the obligatory pictures of Ben as a young, dark-haired cadet, airplanes, and promotions.  Even though it was certainly an upbeat ceremony, Susan admits to shedding a few tears.  She blames it on some mushy words from Ben and poems about AF wives that the colonel read.  Of course, there was abundant food and drink on hand; perhaps even a bottle of Jeremiah Weed was stashed in the freezer.

This post isn’t being written to relive the retirement- good party though it was, but to set the stage for our writing.  How does one write about family, transitions, travel, military life, both active duty and retired when there are so many experiences to draw from?  Well, the three concepts that served us well at the end of our military career sound like a good guide for this blog. Sometimes the post will be about what it takes to get the job done well, and the inevitable consequences of the choices we make to do so.  Other times this blog will share some of the funny stories and adventures that we had along the way.  Often, we’ll explore what it is to be a family adjusting to civilian life in a small northwestern town.  At the very least, we hope the anecdotes we share will make readers smile and maybe laugh.  More importantly, we hope readers will recognize a bit of their own lives in our stories, and know they aren’t alone.

Our parties have changed since retirement….less bawdy singing out of tune and more extended family, the floor isn’t sticky the next morning and the bodies are snoring peacefully in beds, not strewn around the den.  Funny though, there seem to be fewer and fewer ready-made opportunities for a throwing a good party.  Is that civilian life, or have we changed?  It must be time to find (make?) some reasons to invite the new friends over…perhaps writing for a blog???

To our new virtual friends: sorry we can’t have you over in person, but here’s a toast to a fun ride in the blogosphere!