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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

Party On

There are so many ways I know I’m getting older: first there’s the mirror and the silver hair and “fine lines” that are reflected back; the stiffness in my fingers in the morning (could it be the beginnings of arthritis?); the fact that my knees hurt after I play pickleball (has there ever been an older sentence than that?).

Another way I know I’m getting old is that sometimes Madi will call me at 9:30 at night and tell me she’s getting ready to go out. She has not even left yet. I counter with “But the sun is down; it’s really close to bedtime.” That definitely makes me feel old.

During covid there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do so I got into a habit. About 5 o’clock each day, I would announce, “It’s pajama time.“ Paul would inform me that the sun was still out. OK, SO? I could still wear pajamas while the sun was out. But I can see where it could seem like an old person's habit.

The phases or seasons of our lives are blurred in most cases, with us gradually fading from one phase to the next. But the delineations are pretty clear when it comes to parties. Little kids go to birthday parties; teens and college kids go to parties that start way too late. Then you’re off to wedding and baby showers; next come the milestones - birthdays 40 and 50, and finally there are retirement parties.

I went to my first retirement party yesterday, and it was lovely. It was for a woman who has worked at UNCC for 30 years. To protect her privacy, for this blog I will call her “Mindy.“ I met Mindy in a professional capacity, but there was, and still is, a constant twinkle in her eye that lets you know if you’re not already friends, you soon will be.

Mindy loves a good prank and is amazing at pulling them off. Talk about detail-oriented. She somehow maintains the tricky balance of raucous fun and professionalism.

In the years I’ve known her, I’ve seen what she thinks of her colleagues and her students. I’ve seen the love and care she feels for them. For her students, it is evident in the supreme effort she goes to when devising her syllabus, and the way she interacts with them. But yesterday I got to see what everyone else thinks of her.

The rooms where the reception was held were full. Everyone was laughing and talking and enjoying themselves, and it was more than the fact that there was awfully good cake to be had.

I have been thinking of how much loyalty it takes to stay with a job for 30 years, but then I saw evidence of the loyalty that Mindy inspires.

Every person who works in the office is fun and seems to love their jobs. I heard stories of how Mindy fought to get them hired. “She saw something in me." "If it weren’t for Mindy, I might not have been hired.” This was not the only story I heard.

She sees the good in people and doesn’t hesitate to let them know. That is probably as rare a quality as the loyalty she has. The University of North Carolina Charlotte is better for her having been there. Quite an inspiring legacy of loyalty and love.

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