“Memory is the mother of wisdom.” - Aeschylus
It all began on Jan. 1, 1997. I was 51 years old. Evie and I were married 29 years. That day I became the president of Valley Forge Christian College (now the University of Valley Forge).
It all ended on June 30, 2016. Although that day began like any other day, I knew it would be a day I would never forget. As usual, I got ready. As usual, I left a love note for Evie on our kitchen table before I left the house. As usual, I walked down our driveway past my two favorite trees.
As usual, I walked by all the familiar sights. As usual, I walked in front of the Harrup Administration Building looking around at the front of the beautiful UVF campus.
As usual, I walked up the steps, put the key in my office door and walked inside the big office which was the commandant’s office from 1943 to 1973 during the Valley Forge General Hospital days. As usual, I made a cup of coffee and sat behind the big old military desk to start my day.
But I knew that this day was going to be anything but usual. This would be my final day as president of the University of Valley Forge. I looked around. My office was empty. My books were boxed up. My pictures were taken down. My artifacts were put away.
I had some final administrative responsibilities to take care of and a few people I had to see for the last time. I made some phone calls to special friends who stood with us through sunshine and rain.
Evie and I had planned to take one final walk across this sacred ground. It was sacred during the military days and it has always been sacred to UVF and to Evie and me.
First, we drove our car to the front of the campus and parked at the exact place where we parked when we first arrived for our interview in 1996. As we looked out at the four rows of oak trees on the Green Lane Commons, Evie handed me a card with a letter enclosed. In it, she reflected back on the faithfulness of God to UVF and to us over these past years and looked ahead with love and joy to our future retirement years together. We will treasure that moment forever.
We drove around the campus and were flooded with memories. We drove back to the Harrup Administration Building. I have hosted countless guests on tours of the UVF campus but I will always remember that one last time as Evie and I walked hand in hand remembering and talking.
Although numerous farewell expressions had already occurred and one more will take place this fall, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon a beautiful cake reception was held for Evie and me. As we walked back to my office, to our surprise, everyone from the reception was lined up on both sides of the sidewalk with signs and cheers to help us celebrate the end of that special day.
One final time we went to my office where I sent farewell messages to the UVF Board of Trustees and all of the UVF employees. One final time I shut off my computer, shut off the lights and looked around at my empty office. One final time Evie held my hands and kissed me in my office. One final time I closed the door and we walked down the steps together.
We had a lot to talk about over dinner that evening at the General Warren Inne, one of our favorite restaurants. To our surprise, Clyde, the manager, told us the meal was complimentary to celebrate our retirement day.
Evie and I will always be grateful that we could share this day, like all of the others, heart to heart and hand in hand as we moved into our retirement years – together.
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President Emeritus of the University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville. Connect via firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook.com/DrDonMeyer, www.DrDonMeyer.com, Twitter and Instagram: @DrDonMeyer.