46 Finishing Well

A photo of James Vick
Figure 46.1: James Vick

James Vick

Advancing age brings with it a host of new challenges, from hearing loss to fading short-term memory. These hardships may be accompanied by the emergence of some disease or chronic condition that adds yet another dimension to the daily academic struggle. But we are fortunate to be in a profession that may allow us to continue to be productive in the classroom well beyond the age at which others have seen their careers end. I saw this with my mother and father, both teachers who loved their disciplines and their students.

My own personal challenge has come from a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease six years ago. The slow progression of this illness has allowed me to continue my work and to gradually move toward retirement. In doing so, I have had time to reflect on the experience, and this reflection, as expressed in the following poem, has helped me deal with the concluding chapter of my journey.

It’s hard, when life has brought acclaim,

When heights were mine to climb,

To feel I’m lifted from the game

While I’m still in my prime.

I dream of building once again

A world where students thrive.

Relationships, careers begin,

And futures come alive.

I long once more to throw a pass

Or turn a double play,

Instead of hearing others ask,

“How do you feel today?”

As other doors are slowly closed,

Putting dreams beyond my reach,

I walk the path my parents chose.

I pass the torch, I teach.

A photo of Kenneth Roemer
Figure 46.2: Kenneth Roemer

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The Little Orange Book by The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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