Well she did it, folks! My mom retired from the Postal Service after almost 38 years. Did she retire to sip leisurely from tropical drinks on the beaches of Florida? Well, no. In fact, she starts her new job next week… teaching preschoolers (insert shudder here).
My brother and I went at 7:45am on her last day to attend her small, informal at-work retirement party. There were a couple of cakes and some pasta salad, a few gifts, and a really warm send-off from her boss. I was never like, OH YES PLEASE LET ME AWAKEN AT 6 AM TO GET THE KIDS ON THE BUS AND GO SOCIALIZE WITH A BUNCH OF POSTAL PEOPLE I DO NOT KNOW BEFORE I MYSELF MUST GO TO WORK!? Please oh please!? Nevertheless, we went. Her best friend since elementary school showed up, too. She drove quite a long while to get there and I know it meant the world to my mom. It turned out to be just a wonderful experience.
It is hard to put into words the feels that I know little bro and I both experienced while watching my mom that morning, and we were honestly only there for about 2 hours. But. It. Was. Glorious. As a daughter you don’t always get to see that other work family who appreciates your mom, loves her, and certainly spends more time with her than you do. As the kiddo growing up, your parents focus so much time and effort on you, and rightly so. As a parent now my main concern is always on my young kids, and I am often on the back-burner. This little soiree flipped that on its side, and my mom was the guest of honor. It was a cool perspective to get to see.
I was surprised that I got a bit emotional as first her supervisor, and then my mother, spoke to the entire post office who had gathered around, pausing their busy mornings to appreciate her. I glanced at my brother who was recording the speeches on mom’s phone, and we exchanged proud half-smiles. I thought about what a monumental portion of her life was spent in this place with her work family, and how epic the changes would be just ahead. I thought about how the Post Office has provided her with a good living and security. I thought of her dedication to the people, how she dragged her ass to work whether she was sick or hurting, in blazing heat or in blizzards, because we all know the mail doesn’t stop for much.
Recognizing a few familiar faces, I was initially surprised at the number of individuals whom I did not know that stopped to hug me, holding back tears as they gushed over my mom and how she had impacted their lives. Afterwards when I told my mom about a few of the encounters, she also seemed surprised that this person or that one had been so emotional or sincere. When I really gave it some thought, though, I was actually not surprised at all.
Though this was not as big of an event as say a wedding or a funeral, it felt more like a silent biggie. Attending this gig really had a profound effect on me, and I am so grateful that I got to be there that day alongside my brother. As I continue to “grow up” (sort of – when does that officially happen again?!), my mom continues to get older, too. It was great to pause and take stock of this humongous chunk of her life that she will carry with her always, and see her really shine and be valued like that.
This woman is the absolute most selfless person that I have ever known, and that is not because she is my mother and I have to say that. Not at all! In fact, in my younger years I did not see her the way I do now. Growing up too fast as a smartass teenager, I did not appreciate all that she did for us kids. Now with some perspective as a more experienced mother myself, I can see clearly that this woman… I mean, there are no words you guys. You need her to come help you rescue a turtle off the road at 7pm? She’ll be there. You need her to come help you lift a fallen elderly relative at 10:30pm? No worries. You need someone to call and vent to about life and how you are messing up your own kids? Dial her up. She has never missed being there when it really mattered, for any of us in her life.
That is why I will keep showing up for her, even if she doesn’t act like it matters, because it is HER. I like to think that my mother and I enjoy a quiet understanding that it DOES matter to show up when you can and do more than you need to, even if you don’t always feel great yourself. This is quite possibly one of the most favorite things she has taught me over the years, through the examples she has provided. Knowing what my mom does because of who she is (and how she goes above and beyond) is inspiring, and it helps me to handle crises and small daily annoyances with a sense of humor and perspective.
She will always hold many roles: our matriarch, a friend, an animal rescuer, a fiercely loving, Trump-despising, ex-Postal Supervisor, a daughter, a grandma, a wife, a preschool teacher, a dog mom of four, an avid estate saler, an early riser, a shoulder to lean on, yada yada yada. As she transitions out of this huge part of her life and into her next challenge, I count my blessings and sing her praises as she goes along her new path. She has always been my biggest fan, and now I want to be hers. Mom, I love you and we are all so, so proud of you. Happy “Retirement”! Go get ‘em, Ma. You got this.