In June 2003 it occurred to me that our baby girl Hilary would be leaving home to attend university. By this time Roy had been trucking into the United States for about a year and a half. At that point I had already been home and “semi-retired” for nearly two years.
It dawned on me that I would soon be alone for large chunks of time. Not that that particularly scared me. I’ve never understood those people who can’t seem to stand their own company and always need the stimulation of others. But I also knew I didn’t want to turn into one of those women who watches soap operas all day and has forty cats in the house.
However I did recognize that all of my current projects/passions are solitary pursuits–painting, writing, university course work, gardening, interior design–and that human contact is a good thing. A conversation with my aunt led to a part-time (two days a week) job as an accounts payable/accounts receivable clerk at a Vegreville business.
Have you ever had things take on a life of their own? Before too long it was three days a week. Because of extensive store renovations we moved to a temporary location and back again all in the space of about four months. Two months after that we converted to a totally new point-of-sale, inventory and accounting computer system. Somewhere along the way the job became full-time and even that wasn’t enough time to get everything done.
It became increasingly obvious that my plan for how my life was supposed to be going had somehow slipped out of my grasp. I don’t want to come across as the victim because I very consciously agreed to all that was asked of me–that’s how I’m wired. If there’s a job or a challenge and I feel I can make a difference then count me in. But when you literally can’t do your own banking in person and your grip on basic household chores like cooking, vacuuming and laundry is getting away on you, it’s time to reassess. At fifty, I have neither the stamina nor the desire to burn the candle at both ends.
On February 15th I worked my last shift. I had I intended to be gone by January 31st but worked another seven days to help get my replacement a little more comfortable and smooth the year end transition. The farewell potluck, gifts and cards had been done earlier. The longer I hung around the more it felt like one of Cher’s farewell tours. Will she ever be gone?
As much as I knew leaving would be best for me, it was bittersweet as I made my rounds through the store giving everyone a final hug. My farewell letter with a personalized message for each employee had touched hearts. Knowing I had made an impact on many people made leaving at once both easier and harder. Getting my life back on track is the reward, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission