Dean was retiring, and he was looking forward to all the free time he would have. He had worked hard all of his life, providing a good living for his family, but now it would be his time. He was going fishing, camping, traveling, and would have the best raspberry patch in the world.
He started by sleeping in a little. That was nice, but he found he didn’t really sleep. When the time rolled around to when he was used to getting up, he was wide awake. He planned an extended vacation, but he and his wife, Marilyn, had only been gone three days when he was ready to head home.
He went fishing almost every week. He still enjoyed that, but it didn’t seem as fun as when it was a break from everything else. He worked on his raspberry patch, but soon he had it weedless, and there was nothing yet to pick. He flopped in his chair, and Marilyn could tell something was wrong.
“What’s the matter, Dean?” she asked.
“Retirement just isn’t what I thought it would be,” he replied. “It’s kind of like I have lost my purpose in life. When the children were home, and I went to work every day, I could see the benefits of what I was doing in their lives- as they became wonderful adults. Watching raspberries grow isn’t as satisfying as seeing people grow. I realize now that being part of making life better for someone is much more fulfilling.”
“Maybe you can find someone you can help or teach like you used to with the children,” Marilyn said.
Dean thought about it a lot, but he just couldn’t think of anything that a retired person could do. He knew he wasn’t as young and vivacious as he used to be.
Then Dean read an article in the paper saying that the mayor was retiring, and the town was looking for candidates. “As mayor, I could do all sorts of things to help people,” Dean thought.
So he signed up. He did some campaigning, though it really wasn’t his thing. But when the vote was counted, he had won. However, he discovered that being mayor wasn’t always bright and beautiful. Probably at least half of it was dealing with complaints about the streets, the parks, the snow, or anything else someone was annoyed about.
Dean was also a man to say it like he saw it. He didn’t sugarcoat things or say something just to please someone. This rubbed some people the wrong way, and some of them weren’t shy about telling him.
But amid all the annoying things, there were bright spots. He was able to fund some new basketball courts for the youth, most of it with donations with few tax dollars. There were times of encouraging new business to come to town, and ribbon cuttings when they did. He enjoyed trying to make the town a little better. That’s why, when the woman in charge of the Fourth of July parade came to the city council meeting and requested the city council have an entry, he thought it was a good idea.
“What do they usually do?” Dean asked.
He had watched the parade for years but couldn’t remember.
“Usually, they get a trailer and ride on it, or they just ride in a few nice cars,” the woman replied.
The city council discussed some options, then Dean suddenly had a brilliant idea. “You all leave it to me,” he said. “Just be there and dress in gardening clothes.” They were all curious but said they would.
When the day came, Dean drove up on a tractor, pulling a manure spreader. It was used but clean. He had chairs in it for everyone to sit on. As they climbed in, they all laughed at the sign on the side.
“Spreading sunshine and helping the city grow.”