Today is my last day at work at Riley Hospital for Children, the day I move out of my apartment, and the day I begin the trip to Iowa. It was difficult to make the decision to retire, when I enjoy my work and colleagues so much. Many factors went into the decision, but ultimately I have been feeling for some time led, as Quakers say, to devote more time to other types of work. More work related to Quaker spiritual and social justice concerns. I was increasingly finding my scheduled work was interfering with new efforts related to environmental and social justice activism, such as working on the resistance to the Dakota Access and other pipelines. And wanting to be more connected to Quakers in Bear Creek Meeting, and Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).
I knew it would be difficult to move away from so many very close friends, in so many different communities I’ve been blessed to be connected to over the forty seven years I’ve lived here, but it has turned out to be so much harder than anticipated.
Holding Randy Porter’s ashes in preparation for the move brought an odd sense of reconnection to him, not that he has ever been out of my thoughts for long. Leaving the places where we grew up together is especially hard.
Riley Hospital for Children is really one big family. A large number of people I work with have been working here for over twenty or so years themselves. A number them have been here the entire time I have. A special closeness develops when you have shared some very intense clinical situations together. Also when you have shared in the frustrations and elations of research projects.
North Meadow Circle of Friends has become my Quaker meeting away from home, and there, too, we have shared some intense times together. Many meeting members joined in efforts to resist the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, and with our Quaker Social Change Ministry program, and partnering with the Kheprw Institute (KI). It has been a true joy to see these two communities grow together. I was so happy that a number of my friends from KI joined us at North Meadow last Sunday as I said goodbye, for now. Last night Paulette Fair, Mimi, and Rasul picked up some furniture and clothes I no longer needed. They also picked up Shawn’s car, to use until we can figure out what to do with it.
I will miss my close friends from our years of work on various environmental efforts, beginning with the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, where we created a plan for direct action and trained about 50 people how to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience.
I was also profoundly affected by a number of opportunities to spend time with Native Americans, related to Dakota Access Pipeline resistance. I also got to know Joshua Taflinger and Brandi Herron through these efforts, and was overjoyed to hear, last night, that they are going to be married.
When I arrived at Riley this morning, I was presented with the most wonderful gift, a bound book of photos of the many people I’ve worked with over the years, and written messages from many of them.
I also received this amazing video from one of the physicians who did a research fellowship in our lab many years ago, Andre Feher.