An Item Off The Bucket List: Day 1

I have dreamed of a road trip to Seattle since my first visit to that City in 2000. Today, the love of my life and I are headed to Seattle, by way of Michigan. We plan on being on the road for at least 9 of our 14 day excursion. I will be posting picks and notes from the road and on my good old blog.

Before the posts start, I need to say thank you to a friend and mentor who gave Shannon and I an overly generous gift. When Steve heard about the floods from last year, he was upset that our plans were ruined. So, being the amazing human being he is, he stepped in and tried to make things better. His gift will be making our Trip not just possible, but amazing.

I wrote this for Steve’s retirement party. It was supposed to be included in his book, but somehow it wasn’t included. So I’m putting it here, so everyone knows how fantastic he is.

Thank you, Steve, for making this road trip possible.

Steve Eiseman is not a complicated man.  This is not to say he is not smart or that he lacks emotional depth.  On the contrary, Steve is a brilliant, caring and loving person.  At his core, this is who he is.  He isn’t duplicitous or insincere; he truly does care about those people around him, especially the clients.

At first glance, one might think that it is not humanly possible to care about other people as much as Steve does.  This may stem from our line of work.  As Probation Officers, we address more than the crimes our clients commit.  We see the environments that our clients live in.  We work with families that have dealt with more trauma, loss and grief than anyone should ever have to deal with.  What we see, day in and day out can easily be described as the worst behavior that humanity has to offer.  It is understandable, then, that our world view becomes more cynical with time.

And yet, Steve has worked this very same job for over thirty years.  He traveled in our neighborhoods, visited our schools, and worked with our clients, and their families.  When he did not work with our clients directly, he supervised us—his colleagues—sharing our experiences and listening to our concerns. Instead of burning out or reverting to an easy cynicism, Steve acknowledged the loss, the grief and the trauma  and instilled—as best he could—hope, optimism and compassion.  He did not avoid the pain with a Pollyanna attitude.  He acknowledged it head on and worked through it.  Steve recognizes the small miracles we experience for what they are:  Miracles.

This isn’t to say that it was easy work.  “On the road of life,” Steve would say, “I need a jump.”  Or he would say, “It doesn’t go. You have to push.”  He knows how difficult life can be, especially for our clients.  But it is not in Steve’s nature to surrender to these circumstances.  He accepts them for what they are—terrible, difficult and something that needs to change—and works to over-come them.  It is in Steve’s nature to do whatever it takes, even to his own detriment, to make life just a little bit better for those around him.

In theory, it is not a complicated philosophy:  To make life better for those around us.  In practice, it is damn near impossible to do.  And yet Steve has done it.  And Steve will continue to do it.  Retiring from the Juvenile Court is not the end of, “Steve the Sincere Optimist.”  It is simply a change of venue.

Our professional lives were enhanced by Steve Eiseman.  Some of us—myself included—were lucky enough to have our personal lives enhanced by him as well.  Through the years, Steve became more than a Deputy Chief.  He has been a mentor, a friend and a role model.  He has shown me what dedication, hard work and optimism can do for us.  Steve’s philosophy of love, care and support has affected me profoundly.   Simply put I am a better person because I know him.

Steve enriched the lives of everyone in our department.  Now that he is retired, it would be easy to slip into cynicism and sadness; but he has also shown us how to make our work place better.  Armed with his philosophy, framed by the philosopher Goethe, Steve has shown us the true definition of best practices—Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.

Steve, thank you for everything you have done for me.  I will miss you terribly.