This week sees another one of my long-time coworkers leaving. She is retiring and it will be hard to see her go. Although we haven’t worked together for about three years or so, ever since I moved to another department, we nevertheless have stayed in touch. As with my other former coworker who recently left for other pursuits (see Monday’s going to be weird), we have worked many years together. When I started out as a page (someone who shelves library material) in the AV department, she worked on the AV reference desk. She had always been, and continues to be, very kind to me. We spent many evenings discussing music, school, relationships, and life in general. She introduced me to the Blues. When I had no business doing so, she taught me how to use the library computer database, showed me basic reference techniques, even let me man the desk and answer the phone; all in an effort to give me the skills I would need to progress past the position of page. She didn’t have to do any of this, but she did and I am forever grateful.
We had a special connection from very early on; one that, if I may be so bold, could be described as mother and son. She was there for me when I was going through university; when I was dating my wife; when I was figuring out what it meant to be married, and trying to navigate between families; and what it was like to be a parent; all the time listening patently and offering advice, but never imposing.
When she told me that she was retiring, it took me by surprise. My first thought was, of course, “Oh no!” but then I quickly realized how happy I was for her. I knew that the last few years had been difficult in terms of restructuring and reordering; treasured duties taken away while other, more tedious ones assigned. I knew that, although she still felt strongly about her job, it had changed to a point where perhaps the love and the passion weren’t there anymore. She decided it was time to move on, and I applaud her for it.
There have been may changes and challenges over the years, both at work and in life, but through it all I knew that she was one of the select few I could count on to be there for me; in my way I’ve tried to be there for her as well, though in my heart I know I’ve availed myself of the lion’s share of support in this relationship. At least I was there to help her with scheduling spreadsheets, so I guess there’s that.
She told me she wanted to leave without the regular fanfare of retirement; she simply wants to finish her shift and leave, and so to honour her wishes I’ll not publish this until Friday afternoon. Come Friday, I will make every effort to find her and thank her for all the years we’ve worked together. There’s no way in hell I’ll be able to do this without crying. Even so, I want to take this time and use this forum to thank her; thank her for her love and the caring; thank her for the conversations, the laughter, the shared eye-rolls; I want to thank her for the Blues, for Buddy Guy, and Carlos Santana; I want to thank her for those nights in AV where she showed me that a simple chat between coworkers was more important than dredging up work to make yourself look busy; I want to thank her for her friendship.
I love you, Jo.
This one’s for you…