I think it was back in fourth grade, maybe fifth — our teacher had us estimate when we would retire. It was some sort of math thing but the reality of the moment never hit. I was to retire in 2011 at the ripe age of 65. It was so far into the future …
When I state the reality of the moment didn't register, I mean the initial concept of being that old, so old, one would retire and not have to work. Remember, this was back in the mid-late 1950s. I think Eisenhower was the President then. Hey, give me a break, in case you haven't noticed, it is now 2015, four years beyond my retirement estimate.
It was back then the teachers were attempting to get students to realize dreams of the future and what we could be. I still played cowboys and Indians with my younger brother. The thought of being a cowboy was still vivid in my mind but that was dashed when my bubble was burst with "Cowboys don't exist except in movies."
What did I want to be? I considered being a person who painted - an artist. A few years more passed and once again I had to revisit the concept of "what do you want to be when you grow up?"
It was probably in early high school, Freshman year, I decided that I'd be either a teacher, a minister, or make my career in the Navy. This continued to be my goal. I joined FTA (Future Teachers of America) and became a nuisance at the church, hanging around constantly to help the minister.
Around the beginning of my Junior year, I realized I enjoyed writing and scribbled a short story which my English teacher edited. I sent it off to Children's Highlights. Yes, it was rejected. My writing career was nipped in the bud early. The bright candle flame was snuffed.
Graduation was nearing — I was already over half way through my Senior Year. In March, once more, they had a "Career Day" and I spoke with the Navy recruiter. I spoke with my parents that night, and re-discussed the idea with my buddy, George, the next day. We scheduled ourselves and signed papers for an "early up" into the Navy under the "buddy" system. (That's another story!)
Graduation was May 21, 1965. On June 6, 1965, I officially entered the Navy for a four year tour. My dream of being a career Navy man was now on the books.
What I never saw — What I never realized … there is more to life than just a career. Yes, a career is important but that can change, as I learned. Life was waiting just around the corner.
Strangely, I never considered marriage. I always saw myself as the eternal bachelor, that favorite uncle in the family who came at Christmas time with all the wonderful packages and when a birthday came around, offered a fabulous gift the parents could never dream of giving.
I got married. I had children … in fact, I had four sons.
This was not in my plans. I went to college. I was going to be an accountant.
HUH? What happened to Navy career? Minister? Teacher? A writer? Even the single life?
I was a family man. My life's goals were changing and I wasn't sure what was happening. So did my career. I stumbled from accountant into data processing, into computer programming —
My sons married. They had children.
OMG! I was a grandfather.
Wait a minute!! Not once during my youth did I think/see myself as a father. Now I was a grandfather. I wasn't Captain Nailor in the Navy. I wasn't Mr. Nailor, the education teacher. I wasn't Rev. Nailor, minister to a congregation.
I was Grandpa Nailor.
Huh! It was too late to step back and re-assess the situation. As the Unix Systems Manager with over twenty years with the federal government, I was retiring. It was five years early — it wasn't 2011, but 2006.
This past week, another milestone — yes, once again, one that I didn't see in my youth — was passed. I am officially a GREAT grandfather. Okay, I've always been a great granddad, but now it is official. My great granddaughter, Gracelyn Ann Nailor joined my family.
It was then I humbly realized that all my youthful plans had been secretly and silently weaving into my life.
I'm Captain Nailor, leading my family forward on the seas of life.
I'm Mr. Nailor, the teacher, showing my sons, my grandchildren and now, my great grandchildren the best way to handle life's realities.
I'm Rev. Nailor, the minister to my private congregation, giving spiritual guidance to my family.
Oh, and I'm a writer, too, sharing my stories with the world. This is only one.
Until next I ramble on …