Columnist: I haven’t heard my name called

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

I was born into a family that believed one should never sit down, never be lazy, never give up until they called your name from way up yonder!

After 44 years in the physical job of an interior designer, I decided to retire. I was the type of designer that did it all myself. Climbed the ladders, hung the pictures, cleaned the shelves and moved the furniture. Yes, it was physical.

My clients thought I would never sit down. They all figured I would just fall off the ladder one day and be gone. In the back of my mind, I figured they were probably right.

My friend, Ricki, once said, “You will know when it is time to put the hammer down.”

“How?” I retorted.

She grinned, “You will just know.”

Last September I put the hammer down. I knew. I had moved the last baby grand. I had pushed the last sofa. I had climbed the last ladder and dusted the last shelf. It was over.

In my mind, I went to the cemetery and placed a beautiful headstone with this inscription: “Here’s to a career I have dedicated so much of my life to. I am grateful for the pleasure of its work.” I left a flower and walked away.

The first reaction was sheer freedom. I wanted to run, not walk, to all the doors that were now open. And, I was so darn grateful that I could.

A renewed level of life seeped into my soul. I realized that the senior years were meant not to give up but to give back.

Zest for living is the key to living well. A thirst to stay young, not in looks or in the physical, but in the spirit of our souls.

My friend, Deborah, and I go to the gym four to five days a week. We always have exercised. Is my body like a teen? Heck no!! We exercise to be the best we can be. Just that simple.

We keep moving so that we can keep giving back.

Deborah, a retired social worker, volunteers at the nursing home and never misses a beat when it comes to aid.

My friend Michele is a retired IBM executive who is now a certified, court appointed advocate for children of abuse and neglect. All volunteer work.

Ricki, a retired guidance counselor with 11 grandchildren, works with her church. She helps with the children and does jumping jacks to keep up.

Tom, a retired engineer, is constantly working on repairs in our neighborhood to keep our subdivision in order.

A lady up the street who is now crippled knits blankets for babies and shawls for the elderly. Gives them all away. Her hands keep moving and her spirit keeps soaring.

To avoid being a grumpy old person, stay a gleeful young person. Who told any of us it was OK to retire from life? Who told any of us to stop giving?

I have a friend that I graduated from high school with that retired about the same time as I did. He told me he might wear pajamas all day long. In my mind I have a picture of him walking around the house and on his beloved golf course in PJs.

Many Sunday mornings I find myself in my pajama’s writing an article. Every time I do, I think about what he said and I laugh. How youthful and crazy we still are! All my high school buddies are the same. God love them.

John is my age and is about as happy as a clam. He is not retired but full of smiles and thankful for grandbabies coming and joy filling his family.

Yes, some of us aren’t yet retired and may never do so. If you are still working, then show coworkers what you are made of and that your wisdom is of extreme value, because it is.

Life is always handing us gifts like pajamas, babies, friends, laughter and miracles. Thank God.

Another high school friend has just completed grueling months fighting cancer. Our ‘65 LHS class has collectively held our breaths and given our prayers up for this beloved person. He is on his way back to life.

His quote: “If I ever frown again, I told my wife to slap me!” Perfect.

Life is precious. We do need to be slapped when we think of ourselves as old and finished. If we are capable to move, then move with gusto. If something aches afterwards, take an aspirin. Don’t give up. Don’t complain.

We need to give back all that we have learned. Give away all the gifts that God has given us. Our talents, our joy, our faith, our love. For our lives are not measured by what we obtain, but by what we give away.

If we are able to help this world with the time we have left, then don’t waste time.

We need to be brave, be bold, be young in spirit and be of value till they call our name from way up yonder. I haven’t heard my name yet, have you?

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.