|Jeff helping to pick out a Christmas tree a few years ago.|
I'm not going to tell you which number birthday or in which year he was born, because that would be rude. But it's a significant number. And it's coming in a year that is bringing big changes to his life, our life.
Jeff will retire from the University of Vermont this coming May. He's been at UVM for a quarter century. His departure will be a big adjustment for him, for the university, and I would argue for the community at large.
As he retires, he doesn't want hoopla. He wants to ride off into the sunset, as he puts it. As if his retirement is some sort of end. It's actually a beginning.
Some people, when they get to retirement age, do fade away. Jeff won't. He doesn't have it in him to just fade. It's one of the things I love about him.
True, he'll be home more often when he retires, which is a definite plus. But he'll still continue his career as a scenic designer, which has always been his passion. He's so good at it that he'll always be demand. Probably even when he's 100 years old.
His mother worries that he pushes too hard, and it's true Jeff works too hard. (Note to Lois Modereger: I crack the whip when Jeff starts to push himself too much, and so he's fine!) The retirement this year is not a sign of him aging, but it is a sign that he's finally wising up enough to slow down, just a bit.
I'm not surprised, but always stunned by the number of his students and former students who come to Jeff and tell him what a great influence he was on them, how much he taught them. I know that will continue after he retires. Because he will meet more people, and teach more people, and just make things good. It's his habit, and he'll never be able to break it, thank goodness.
Jeff's magic is that he makes everyone he comes in contact with a better person. That certainly includes me. I'm far from perfect, but every day, Jeff, through example, shows me and everyone how it's done. As of this August, we will have been married seven years. Time flies. And I can't wait to experience the many more years I have with Jeff.
It's funny. Jeff has an eye for fashion, at least in a superficial sense. We'll tune into some show like "Project Runway," and he'll exclaim: "What is she wearing! Did she look in the mirror before she left home?!?"
Yet Jeff is completely out of fashion in a much more fundamental sense. It's not fashionable these days to have a sense of morality. To be honest. To do the right thing. Jeff does all of these things, fashion be damned. Thank Gawd. Another in a list of a billion reasons why I love him.
So Jeff: Here's to another birthday. I love you so very much, and look forward to being with you as the years tick by.
This post has been sappy, yes, but so what? I'll even make it worse with this song, which reminds me of you. Here's Carly Simon to help me out here: