Every so not-very-often, I find myself invited back into my past. It is happening less and less frequently, as the time since my retirement creeps towards the seven year mark. Seven years! Where did that time go? They
do say, don’t they, that time flies when you are having fun and, while it is true that retirement, for me, hasn’t quite turned out as I might have expected, life is still very much worth living.
Last week, I was invited back to a presentation evening for a much-loved friend and former colleague heading into her own retirement. I wasn’t at all sure I would be able to make it, however much I wanted to, but other
people pulled out all the stops to get me there, for which I am extremely thankful.
There was, of course, the issue of what to wear - my retirement wardrobe (if
you can call it that) verges on the “sloppy but comfortable.” I have, however, kept two dresses and two jackets from my Corporate Days which I can call on as and when needed. My only hope is that nobody remembers what I am wearing from one event
to the next - I am encouraged by the fact that, apparently, nobody really notices what anyone else is wearing unless one happens to be Royalty. Or Liz Hurley, she of the safety pins.
I was gratified when I pulled one of my two “working dresses” out of the wardrobe that it didn’t require holding together with safety pins. Mr B looked me up and down when I presented myself for his approval and said I didn’t
look “too bad.” This is the equivalent of generous praise from other, more effusive husbands.
Sweet Jasmine ( as in, a real person, not the sweet smelling
flower) picked me up in her car and drove me, through horrendous rush hour traffic, to the venue. I was immensely indebted to her because, while I am, as you know, driving again these days, I am not driving (i) very far; and (ii) in the dark. I am not at all
sure I would have been able to attend without her.
Arriving at the hall where the celebration was being held, I was amazed to see how many people I knew. It was
just like Old Times. Everyone told everybody else that they hadn’t changed a bit over the years since they last met - nobody actually commented that I was even wearing the same clothes, though they may well have thought it...
Lots of people asked if I missed work, so I had to answer honestly that I didn’t, not really, except that I did really, really miss the people I worked with, both fellow Council
employees and members of partner organisations, so many of whom were there in the hall that evening. And I did miss being at the centre of things and being part of making things happen.
I had been asked to say a few words about our Guest of Honour; there was so much I could have said so I hope I did her proud, as she deserved. We didn’t work for the same organisation but I like to think we worked for the same
community as partners who valued and respected each other’s point of view. I do hope that came over in my “few words.”
As always, of course,
it was what was left unsaid that spoke volumes about how much everybody there loved and appreciated her. I’m talking about the tears, the smiles, the cheers, the buffet table groaning under the strain of lovingly prepared food, the family members proudly,
supportively, at her side.
Not everyone wants a celebratory send-off when they ride off into retirement and that’s completely understandable. However,
a send-off can indeed be a Marvellous Thing when it allows people to remember achievements, praise exceptional working, recognise the contribution made, say well done, faithful servant - now celebrate and enjoy the rest of your life.
Dear Hilary - this one was for you...