Changing of the Guard
My mentor is retiring at the end of this week. He’s been with the Firm his entire 40-some-odd year career. I’ve been with him for 12 years. Before joining the Firm, I had no mentor; I was rudderless.
He has all the qualities that make a sage mentor: steadfast, adroit, generous, exacting. His work habits are disciplined; his writing and thought process, fastidious and orderly. He never screams or loses his temper. The worst you can do is disappoint him.
Under his tutelage, I began to pick up his habits without me always realizing it. These many years later, I am still nowhere near as disciplined, orderly, or as calm as him. But I am on that path. And it is, in large part, because of him. Had I tied my cart to another mentor, a less judicious mentor, I unwittingly would have walked down a sloppier path with only my own instincts to have pushed me to be better.
I will miss his advice, his opinion on a file, his interpretation of a statute. I will miss his amazing sense of humor, his joie de vivre, even with regard to his time in the office. I will especially miss his quintessentially Southern manners: he says good morning to everyone in the office that he passes (sad that not all of us do that), he holds doors, wears a coat for cocktails in the afternoon, and thinks horse racing is tawdry.
And although he is moving forward to the next, more relaxing, chapter of his life, my not seeing him regularly, knowing he won’t be in the office every day, not having him as my steady rock that always had the ability to calm me, set me straight, and guide me so ardently, will be a great loss, a loss that is merely the measure of the greatness that was his mentoring. He’s taught me all I need to carry on in his absence. And I will carry on, having become a better lawyer, a better person, for having his example be the beacon to which I strove.
He’ll never know the true depth of my gratitude nor my love.