Like some—but not all—workers, teachers are paid bimonthly, on both the 15th and last day of the month—but, typically, only during the school year. Most teachers need to fend for themselves during the summer when school is not in session.
Some earn a living during July and August by doing whatever odd jobs they can secure, like painting houses or mowing lawns. Others, like Aesop’s farsighted ant, store away resources for the summer (rather than the winter), putting aside a portion of their bimonthly salary into a summer savings program.
Some exceptional districts, like my about-to-be former one, provide employees with the option of receiving their annual salary distributed bimonthly over the entire calendar year, rather than just over the school year.
Grateful for that option, I chose the opportunity my district offered, receiving twenty-four (albeit smaller), rather than twenty (larger) paychecks.
Whether paid within the school or calendar year, the usual contractual payment convention is that when the last day of the month falls on a Monday, checks are issued on the preceding Friday. (Otherwise, weekends can be long and hungry–especially with small children.)
Tomorrow, Monday, August 31st is the last day of the month.
Thus, it was no surprise when I returned home from a little retirement breakfast with a couple of close colleagues yesterday that standing out from among the various bills and junk mail was evidence of the end-of-month paycheck.
Only this August paycheck heralds not only the last paycheck of the summer, but—drum roll!–the last paycheck—period–from my district—and possibly from any employer ever again, and definitely the last full-time paycheck from teaching.
Pretty monumental meaning for one little piece of paper, don’t you think?
Given its significance, I’ve decided I should do something special with that last check. Like frame it. (You know—the way businesses frame their first dollars earned. Although I would be framing my last dollars.)
Good news is my salary is directly deposited, so I would not actually be putting my last check under glass. (Thankfully I’m neither that nostalgic, nor foolish!)
Looking at that paper receipt now and then, will, I hope, remind me of the impermanence of all things…
When I worked in the frenetic world of publishing, I had in multiple places a quote from St. Teresa of Avila. Here are the parts of the quote that I held on to:
Let nothing disturb you; nothing frighten you. All things are passing away. …Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.
Within the frame, beneath the last check receipt, I will include those words for reflection.
At this transitional time in my life, here’s how they speak to me:
Let nothing disturb you: not the work left behind undone, nor the present and future retirement unknowns
Nothing frighten you: not even the possibility of never ever receiving another paycheck
All things pass away: even the good and the not-so-good things—in the end: even me…
God alone suffices: He will direct my path along unfamiliar retirement terrain, as I step out in faith, hope, and love, one step at a time, seeking His wisdom.
I agree with St. Teresa. I put my money on God. In the beginning, at the end, and at all points on my life’s journey in between, He has and will take care of me: enlighten, support, strengthen, counsel, correct—provide all I need.
What to do with the last directly deposited paycheck, besides framing its evidence?
Whatever it is, I’m thinking, it should be a worthy expression of gratitude for the blessing of having had so many years working, and now retiring.
Like the teacher who appears when the student is ready, the best, most gratifying thing to do with that last check, I believe, will be made manifest, and when it is, I think it is best kept a secret, so that my left hand does not know what my right hand is doing.
What did you consider doing with your last paycheck?