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Last Updated November 25, 2015
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The Northwest Alabamian is published semi-weekly, except weekly Christmas and New Year’s when only the Wednesday edition is published at 1506 21st Street, Highway 195 East, P.O. Box 430, Haleyville, AL, 35565. Phone 205-486-9461. Entered as periodicals at the Post Office at Haleyville, AL 35565. Annual subscription rate is $34.50 for one year or $26 for six months for Winston County; $38.50 per year or $28 per six months for adjoining counties. Subscriptions for senior citizens (Winston Co. only) are $30 for one year or $22 for six months. All others are $50.50 per year or $32 for six months. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGE TO P. O. BOX 430, HALEYVILLE, AL 35565
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Horace Moore
Phillip Brooks
Production Manager
Mike Moore
General Manager
Melica Allen
Managing Editor
Roger Carden
Advertising Director
Reflections on retirement from Haleyville grad
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P.O. Box 430
Haleyville, Ala.
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handwritten signature of its author.
I will turn 62 in December.  I don’t necessarily look or feel my age, but I am.  Some have told me I?look much younger than my actual years.  But this does not change the chronological reality, flattering though it may be.  I don’t much like this feeling.  I cannot reconcile this reality with my inner self-image, which is a twenty-something young man setting out to experience life and the great unknown beyond Haley-ville.  I certainly do not feel like my professional life is or should be over.  I also know I have more to offer than the time remaining will allow.  It is a strange feeling to know that somewhere along the way I got “old”.  How can that be?
After 40 years of professional work experience when I finally leave, I?have lots of experience, organizational knowledge and insight.  How do I effectively transfer this to those who remain when I leave?  And more broadly, can this company, can any company, really afford to lose this much knowledge and experience and suffer no loss?  Waves of 60+year-old, highly knowledgeable and experienced professionals have retired.  Companies are well aware of this loss of talent and appear to accept it.  But can they really afford to accept it?
A company quickly compensates for the missing talents and activities of departing staff.  Some are picked up by other staff, some stop getting done and nobody notices.  It is more than likely that some of the things I consider important and critical are not and will not be done by others after I am gone.  So be it.  But it makes me sad, somehow discounting the work I have been doing.
It seems unlikely to me at this time that I will return to Houston, Haleyville or other places lived once I retire.  So I am in the season of my last goodbyes.  But I have not figured out how to say them, so I don’t.  Because of the work I have done, I know and am known by many.  Because of the size and the geographical spread of company locations, there are many people I?know who are widely dispersed.  I now realize I may never see many of them again.  Some I am seeing for the last time, but at the time, I?am not sure of I say nothing.  Some come up to me and say, “I heard you are retiring.”  Well, I am, but so are we all, sooner or later.  What they mean is, “I heard you are retiring SOON!”  But even after this conversation, no goodbyes are said.  So, I am often saddened by the fact that I am seeing people and places for the last time and am not saying a proper goodbye.  And when I do say goodbye, as I did with a friend and professional colleague who retired and left last month, it is so very hard to do.  A sign of my advancing years, no doubt!  I am nearly 62, after all.
This is about how you use the remaining years of your life.  I am definitely interested in this.  Friends advise me that what I do with the years I have remaining will have a lot to do with the legacy I?leave.  For my four years in the military and 36 years in the oil and gas industry, whatever legacy I?will leave has already been mostly “left”.  And how interesting, I find, to realize that this really matters to me.  It is not that I?would like my legacy to be that I was a likable person, or a valued colleague (although these are important to me).  I would prefer a legacy that has to do with a significant contribution to the department, to the company, and/or my profession, that would not have happened had I not been here.  But as I reflect on these things, I?now realize that whatever it will be, it already is!  There is not much I can do in my remaining time to significantly change what the legacy may be.  Very sobering.
I am looking forward to life in retirement.  Jan and I are both reasonably healthy and active.  There are lots of interesting places we want to see and things we want to do.  We will have the time and, hopefully, enough money to do them.  If not, I can always work.  We both have professional skills  which in the U.S. economy  are still valued.  But, I am going to miss this place and the people I worked with and played golf with and socialized with and got to know and love.  There is no way back, that I can see.  So when that day comes, we must say goodbye pretty much forever to the life we knew here at work, to friends who remain, and those who will also leave and scatter to parts unknown.  It is hard to say goodbye to all of this and all of them.  It is hard to know you will not return again, and unless you have a very specific purpose, would not even be welcome to come back.  Although I sometimes felt otherwise, I have been mostly happy here.  Jan and I look forward to leaving, and we are saddened when we think about leaving.
I have been through a lot of emotions recently, sometimes several in the same day.  I have come to accept that only time will resolve this.  So I?am waiting for it to come, my retirement, my final goodbye...the beginning of a new life, an end to this emotional rollercoaster that my life has become and an acceptance of a new reality.  And I can see myself saying, even singing the words of the well-known song, commonly identified with the American Civil Rights Movement:
“Free at last, free at last.  I?thank God I am free at last.”
My best wishes to all my Haleyville High classmates of 1972.

Carl Southern
Lacombe, Louisiana
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