In 1982, my mom landed this awesome job with a local software company. She was working on an English degree at the local state university, and as part of her technical writing course she had to interview someone working in the field.
Somehow it was that she wound up interviewing a woman named Alice who worked at this local software company. Once she was done interviewing Alice, Alice then started interviewing my mom– for a job. Which she gave her.
So my mom has worked there for 26 years. In 1985 or so, she arranged for me to have a summer job there. I went on to have one or two more summer jobs at this company, then wound up being hired full time in January of 1990.
So for the last 18 years, I’ve worked full time at the same place, and my mom has always been there, too. We almost never interacted professionally, but we had conversations online and saw each other from time to time. When I wound up in the company health care center with a broken arm, and couldn’t raise any of my co-workers on the phone, I called my mom and she was there.
This morning I pulled into the parking lot of a building I don’t normally visit. I had to go into a meeting of colleagues from around the globe and stand up in front of them and be introduced. As I was parking, my iPod tossed up the following song lyric:
“…no one knows you better…”
and I burst into tears. Then I pulled it together, drank my coffee, stood up in front of those people and did my bit.
4:30pm was her retirement party. As I hoped, it was a jolly affair. People were happy to see each other, some who had not seen my brother Daniel since he was a baby. Everyone was there and it was a nice time.
After it all dispersed, I helped mom clear out some things from her office. “You’re about to watch me log off for the last time!” she said, dramatically. “Do you think I should set an Out Of Office message?” I provided some amusing ideas for what the message should say. “I’m out of the office and won’t be checking my mail. EVER.”
Me, mom and Wayne went to the fancypants hotel on campus for a drink. It was nice. It was just like always. I think it is easier for me than for some of her co-workers who have known her since the beginning. I know I’ll be seeing her regularly. They don’t know when they’ll see her again.
So there it is. After almost two decades, my mom won’t be there at work. And eventually, after she moves to the beach, she won’t be in town, either. As Wayne said, “Logging out, and getting on!”