This week Steve, Emma, and I were at Costco, and we saw one of my girlfriends from when I was a police dispatcher. It was so great talking to her and I remembered why I always liked her so much. She told us her husband is going through the process of medically retiring from the department as a deputy Sheriff. The conversation brought back a lot of negative feelings I had from my own medical retirement, and how badly the department treated me during that time. It’s crazy how you can actually forget a period of time in your life until someone else you know goes through it. Then, little memories and feelings come back to remind you.
This picture of my youngest, Emma (now 10) reminds me of how blessed I was to have something new in my life immediately following my retirement. The process of living out your entire adulthood being one thing and then having it completely disappear from who you are feels like a complete loss of one’s identity. I was 19 when I started in Law Enforcement and 41 when I retired. I wasn’t ready to leave. I was afraid of what I’d do, or who I’d be. Who would be my friends? Where would I fit into the world now?
The best thing I did was go through vocational rehabilitation. It was this picture of little Emma that sent me there with a purpose. I went in the first day and said I wanted to be a photographer. I really liked this picture I took of Emma with Steve’s Canon AE-1 film camera. I thought I’d be good at taking some pictures so I enrolled in school. I was at Orange Coast College within 4 weeks of my retirement.
There was no time to sit around and worry about anything. No time to watch TV and drink beers feeling sorry for myself like I’d seen so many medically retired people do. I was off and into my next life. I’m so thankful for photography for not letting me sink. I’m thankful for it becoming a new love that helped me see the world in a fresh and positive way. It kept me from fading away, and gave me new hope, and a new beginning. That is a good thing to remember.