I have just completed reading a book entitled “Strangers No More: Memoirs by Lucy S. Herring” (Carlton Press, 1983). I’m not sure how the book found its way into my library—perhaps it was a book my daughter contributed when we moved into our shared Florida home recently. The book was signed by the author: “Think big! Your thoughts will determine your destiny, Lucy Herring, February, 1983.”
Lucy Herring was an African-American educator who had an interesting life and who made a significant impact on the education of the African-American community. While I expect that few will be aware of her and her legacy, I found a couple of especially significant connections with my own pilgrimage. The first connection was that she served early in her career as an educational coordinator in Harnett County, North Carolina. While her service was many years prior to my teaching years at Campbell University (in fact, I had been at Campbell for three years and had been in Nashville five years by 1983 when this book was published), Campbell is in Harnett County and is only a few miles from Lillington, where Ms. Herring worked. Her work was foundational in opening doors of opportunity for African-American students; and I had some very fine students at Campbell, who were evidence that doors of opportunity have been opened by people like Lucy Herring.
The most significant connection, however, was a stage-of-life connection that Ms. Herring faced at the time of her retirement. While I cannot apply her statement about retirement totally to my own experience (see page 166 for Lucy Herring’s list), she did inspire me with some perspectives that are helpful to those who are retiring or have retired. Here are my adaptions of Lucy Herring’s experience that retirees have to deal with in the significant transition from employment to retirement.
1. Serving in a new role of second parent—that of a grandparent.
2. Living in new accommodations.
3. Living in a culturally mixed community.
4. Being far removed from the kind of church of which you have been a member.
5. Having to find new service providers to assist you.
6. Having to make new friends (especially when your recall is declining).
7. Living in a new city with a vastly different climate from the one to which you have been acclimated.
Lucy Herring captured a lot of the challenges that I have been facing in the last six months. Her spirit in addressing these issues have inspired me and challenged me to view these days as a new venture that requires readjustments, patience, supportive family and friends, and trust in God that all is working together for good.