Jerry rigged up a surprise luncheon for me last Wednesday attended by people going back to the very beginning of the Ranch, people who were there for our dedication ceremony in the fall of 1991, as well as friends from more recent times.
And what were we dedicating, that intrepid puddle of people standing in the brisk November breeze as children cavorted in the ancient old barn and Blossom the donkey looked on with a bemused eye?
A dream, no more, no less.
Although I bravely carried on as though I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Down Home Ranch would someday bloom on the bleak, sodden landscape we were dedicating to that purpose, my practical self raised a skeptical eyebrow.
Frankly, I don't know how we made it. The smartest thing we did was at the outset burn the ships that might have taken us back to our old life. We'd quit our jobs, sold our house, and cashed in our retirement to live on as we got started. It quickly got so that it was easier to keep on keeping on than it was to even think about going back and starting over.
I'm sure we did a lot of things right, as well as a lot of things that didn't need doing at all (I'm thinking of donkeys here), and some that were downright stupid. But we had a lot of luck, too, very often of the type that Fr. Bob characterized as "divine providence." (Fr. Bob confessed that he'd told a colleague after meeting us that "Those people either have a lot of faith or they're dumb as a bag of hammers." Bit of both, it was.)
And the people who believed in us...many of whom were there at the retirement luncheon. What can I say? Our first president Carroll, our second president Mike. Helen and Janet, with whom I travelled all over the Episcopal Diocese of Texas singing with the Glory Bound Singers and without whom I would have lost my mind.
Dan and Sally, still grieving the loss of Dan's dad Ed, were there, daughter Martha and family, Hector and Ashley, and Don and Rita and John, and all the Ranchers and our wonderful staff. I looked out over the crowd and saw that those who were there in the beginning were meeting those who will carry the Ranch into the future.
It was awesome.
So how do I feel about being retired? Really terrific! Full of new ideas and energy, free to wander a bit further afield in areas very dear to my heart, about which more later. And lots fewer meetings, although I'm still on the Board, so I can't get out of that one.
My passion is to tell the stories of this place, and of these people. Of the families who have entrusted their children to us, of the Ranchers who came here to build their own lives, of the amazing people who have believed in our mission and poured out all the best of who they are and what they have into it.
I am a happy camper.