The Last Hurrah*
I began to write this post without any real idea of how to start it or where the opening sentences would take me. This is unusual for me. It’s not that I always have a fresh idea at the ready. Like any writer, I suffer moments of doubt as the clock ticks down the minutes left until deadline. Leave it to the Muse to pick this time to be silent. No doubt, she has a reason. Perhaps my subconscious is engaged in some last-minute foot-dragging.
What to do? Bereft of all other options, I went looking for my occasional consultants, my happy-go-lucky rescue terrier-mix Lillebet and my clumsily malevolent but heart-in-the-right-place cat BusyBee. I checked all their usual haunts, but there was no sign of them. I began to panic. Just as I had determined all was lost, I heard whispers beneath the dining room table. I’m not proud of what I did next, but this was a crisis. I eavesdropped.
Lillebet: …Of course I’m worried about dad. Aren’t you? He’s going eighty miles per hour, as though nothing is about to change. In a few weeks, he’ll be braking to zero, growing his toenails, and…
BusyBee: Let me stop you right there, mophead. I’ve been counting, and this makes it one thousand times, on the button, I have had to tell you. Bruce is not your dad…
BusyBee: Fine. I give up…We’ll just ignore the existence of that oversexed Yorkie at the puppy mill and that whole genetic code thing.
Lillebet: You’re missing the point. What will he do with himself when he’s out of a job? And what about us? He won’t need our help any more…
BusyBee: Good point. The way I see it, one of us is definitely getting downsized…and he likes me better than he likes you.
Lillebet: Does not! Hey! What do you mean downsized? I’m already pretty small.
BusyBee: My point, exactly.
I peek around the corner just in time to see Lillebet sniffing BusyBee’s posterior. She does this every morning to be certain the cat really is who she says she is. BusyBee lands a straight right to Lillebet’s nose.
Lillebet: Get serious! We’ve got seniority. Nobody is getting the axe except dad.
BusyBee: Nothing like that. You know how, every now and again, he holds me on his lap and we have a heart-to-heart? Totally senseless, since he doesn’t know I speak his language. He told me he’s really excited to be moving on to something new.
Lillebet: Yeah. Same thing here. Blah, blah, blah…good dog…blah, blah… bath. Then I made a run for it. Mom told me he is working on a book…something about radiology he’s been writing. But I don’t think she’s...
BusyBee:…and, yeah, fly fishing! I hope he takes me with him. Do you believe the dope throws back what he catches? And him owning a former feline feralista.
Lillebet: Well, I’ve got him marked down in my calendar for a couple weeks of special attention…you know, extra tail wagging, slurps on his nose, my best work. It wouldn’t hurt if you did the same.
BusyBee: I know. But I hate it when you’re right…especially if it involves being nice.
They’ve gotten to me. A tear dripped on the hardwood gives me away. It breaks my heart that they worry about what will become of me. What they don’t know is that I have been preparing for this day my whole adult life. My career, more than most, has involved change. It has been good practice. I am thankful and hopeful and excited, all at the same time.
*Modified version of the Editorial of the same title, published upon my retirement as Editor-in-Chief in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.