In some ways, retirement is like being dead. People say nice things about you, but you’re around to hear it. That makes it pretty sweet. Today I was the beneficiary of an awful lot of nice things said and I didn’t even have to walk toward the light.
Originally I nixed the idea of a party, but Crysal disagreed vehemently. I admit it. I’m glad she won.
“No one retires after ten years as head of this agency and doesn’t get a party!” she blustered. “Not on my watch.”
I’m sharing these details tonight, not because I’m bragging or thinking I’m wonderful (well not inordinately wonderful, anyway), but because I think there are those (like me) who have never imagined how it is to retire and hear things like these. Retirements, like funerals, are one of those rare occasions when allow ourselves to express our feelings for each other. And we give gifts!
One of my favorite gifts was from Rachel, my pragmatist. She said: “Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s beautiful. Most of the time… it’s both!”
Knowing my propensity to get too invested in things, Rachel also gave me a book I’d been eyeing for some time called, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, a Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. It arrived just in time.
“Can you tell what’s on the cake?” asked Crystal eagerly, putting me on the spot. “I had her make it especially for you!”
I hated to disappoint her, but I couldn’t.
“Um, no. Is it me hanging from a tree with a noose around my neck?” I asked, thinking the worst.
“NO!” she chastened. “It’s a glass elevator!” [See My Next Elevator Ride.] I love that she created a glass elevator for me. That bodes well for my next step (see PS, below). She and that cake decorator did their best to please me. It did, Crystal, it did.
Today the staff and Board cut loose and I was moved beyond words. I almost cried, but I’ll save that for tomorrow when I turn in my parking permit, credit card, and keys. When I shut the door for the last time. When I ride that elevator down from the 5th floor. And when I no longer have a parking permit and have to pay for all day parking…
Crystal (obviously my chief instigator) put together a fabulous wooden box filled with emails and handwritten thank you notes from our staff. She painted the box in her favorite Halloween colors and put my name and small sparkly stars in the bows of a big oak tree with deep roots. Under the clasp was “10”. It was perfect. Everything was perfect.
In addition to the wonderful best wishes and thanks for the memories, there were a few that really surprised and moved me (see below). It’s funny how bonds forged in deep waters are among the strongest. A boss (or as I call myself, “bossy”) can only hope to have achieved relationships like these with her people. I am most blessed.
“… [during the most difficult trial of my life] I realized that you were more than my boss – you are a true friend. Your support and encouragement has helped me deal with this difficult trial and adapt to a new period in my life… I will miss your big smiles and hugs whenever you saw me at a meeting. You always made me feel like you truly cared about me…” I do, Carolyn. I do.
Corrine’s words moved me too. Both she and Jill left us about a year ago but came back to say goodbye. “...you made work fun and inspired me with the way you handled yourself ‘under pressure’… thanks for the opportunities you gave me and for believing in me.” – Corrine
Totally unexpected was a card (and gift) from an employee who left us about five years ago. We weren’t always on the same side of the fence then, and to tell you the truth I wasn’t always sure he liked me, but he wrote “Have fun and stay active. Gardening is still my passion and I recommend it to keep you grounded. Instead of waking up and trying to hustle to the work place, grab your favorite wake-up drink and go outside and tend plants and smell the roses. Pretty cool! – Your oldest WQRC, Mark”. I will, Mark. Thank you, I will.
To my Board, staff, and the partners who sent cards and showed up at the meeting (Curtis, Elaine, Karma, Bobio, and many others), thank you for believing in me. You have no idea how you have all changed my life. Knowing and working with you has been a great adventure and a whole lot of fun (most days).
And just like that, it’s over. Now they all will continue without me. I have every confidence they will soar – because that’s who they are and that’s what they do despite hardships and challenges.
It’s been an honor to have been in the trenches with you, friends. I count myself lucky to have known how you feel before I met the undertaker. I will miss you and love you dearly.
PS Many of you have asked what I intend to do. Right now I am transitioning. I’ve been zeroing out my outside commitments while I decide. One thing for sure, I’ll be blogging at http://www.terimurrison.com.