The Day Is What You Make It

When a person retires, I’m told many people find themselves looking for things to do and wish that they had continued at the old workplace. They say those individuals have depression and seem to be lost in their new life of not working everyday or having to meet deadlines. To me, that sounds pretty sad, and I must say that hasn’t become a part of my retirement routine since I turned out my office light December 31, 2013. Nope, just the opposite.

In fact, I need a vacation. Since leaving the Bureau, I’m in some kind of a meeting for some kind of a board I’m on each week. I’m a member of my county’s planning commission and I’m in the middle of a campaign for county commissioner. Plus, I have the granddaughters, my church and a house that seems to need to be cleaned on a regular basis, even if I’m the only one getting it dirty. And in addition to all of those things, I even offered to help some of my special friends with their pick-your-own strawberry patch in the middle of Murfreesboro on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yes sir, I do sleep well at nights.

Life can be fun if you will let it be. Sure, I’ve gotten so busy I do have to hire someone to cut my yard, but I have retired and there has to be some perks to this not working thing. The deer and turkey have taken over my garden, which has given me the opportunity to “cultivate” farmers markets. The produce is better than what I can grow and it gives me a chance to see my farmer friends to catch up on farming talk.

The Batey Berry Patch has been a trip for me this spring. I get to see people I’ve never met before and talk to them about strawberries. To see little kids come out of the berry patch on their first visit to a farm, with strawberry juice dripping down their chins, is a real pleasure for this old granddaddy. I get the chance to drive a motorized mule through the field to pick up pre-picked berry buckets for those who don’t wish to bend over to pick their own and spend days outside rather than inside at a office desk. Depression hasn’t found me yet.

Each day is what you make it. I’ll never forget what one gentleman told me not very long after I lost my wife to cancer. At that time, I was having a tough time with my life and he seemed to sense that things were not just right. He told me, “Young man, it is very important that when life seems to have given you the knock out punch that you get up and put both feet on the floor. There will be days you will just wish to stay in bed, but don’t. Get up and put both feet on the floor.” I continue to do that everyday just like the gentleman told me.

You never know when your day may change on you, so you have to be prepared just like this story I heard a few years ago at a water utility meeting. The story reported that in a small rural town the local funeral director had asked a young new preacher, who had just moved into the community and become the town’s only preacher, to conduct a graveside service for a man who had no family or friends. The burial would be held at a very small cemetery out in the country and the preacher was told not to expect a large crowd and to keep the service simple.

The next morning, the young preacher headed out into the countryside with handwritten directions given to him by the funeral director. He was sort of excited because this was his first funeral service to ever conduct and he had practiced all night on saying just the right words.

Being new to the area and having no GPS, he got lost and was running almost an hour late for the service. The nervous preacher turned on a graveled road and saw a backhoe and three men standing by what he assumed was an open grave. There was no hearse or anyone else there at the gravesite. All he saw were the men standing there looking like they were getting ready to push the dirt in the grave.

Thinking that he had missed the funeral, he jumped out of his car and ran to the grave, noticing that the concrete vault had already been put down and locked in place. He opened his Bible and asked the workers to stop what they were doing. He asked them to remove their caps and preached a very long sermon over the deceased. After ending his sermon with a prayer, he told the workers they could go on with their work.

The new preacher felt really good about his first funeral, and as he passed the group of workmen going to his car, he overheard one of the workers say, “I’ve been putting in septic tanks for a long time and I ain’t never seen anything like that.”

The day is what you make it.              



Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at