|My office for many years|
No one told me about the last ten minutes
It was my very last day as a faculty member. After 18 years with the organization it was time to say goodbye and begin the next chapter of my life. Yes, there were some tough years but by and large it was a very sweet gig and a tremendous period of growth and development for me personally. My wife was a great support all through this transition process. I could not have gone through all of this alone.
|A bulletin board once filled with cards and memos|
The last few months have been hectic beginning with my letter to formalize my retirement. It was a huge step because I finally realized that it was the right time to leave. I had been hemming and hawing for the past year and had yet to circle a date on the calendar but now the day had come. My boss knew the letter was coming but it took her almost two weeks to reply. Was the letter lost; was it even received; did I only imagine that I sent it? Finally, a note from my boss to explain to me that she did not know how to respond and never thought the day would come. I couldn’t believe it; she couldn’t believe it. As a fitting gesture I even sat on the interview panel in the job competition to replace me. The winning candidate was an excellent choice.
Next came all the forms, the paperwork and the realization that even though I had been well known at all levels within the organization for a number of years I had to prove I existed which meant presenting my birth certificate and other credentials, even securing a guarantor for the pension agency. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I could not find proof of my birth and ended up applying to my birth province for a new certificate. The delay took weeks. And then came the arrangements with the bank, setting up my Canada Pension Plan, medical insurance, Old Age Security and Pharmacare. I could have used a secretary…. sorry, administrative assistant! Everything had to be done in lockstep.
Some advice; don’t expect anyone to do this for you. You are truly on your own though it helps to talk to folks who have gone through the process. The retirement seminar I attended three years ago was also a big help. The last piece of paperwork was the application for my service award and that meant trotting down to my bank to get the proper account numbers to facilitate the transfer of funds. All done!
|How many times up and down that hallway|
The last week was very stressful and time seemed to slow to a crawl. I tried to keep myself busy as much as possible but there were the tributes, parties and get-togethers that I would rather not have had but it is part of the rite of passage, right? And the reminders; don’t forget to hand in the keys. Retirement is supposed to be a big deal. So many people were asking me what I was going to do in my retirement and I really did not have a good answer, just fumbled for words and explained that I had some hobbies to keep myself busy. Truthfully I do not really know for certain!
Everyone was great (well, there was one mental health case who couldn’t seem to wish me luck) but I was glad that that part was finally over. I had three bookcases full of books that I had carefully collected over the years. My first thought was to bring them all home, assemble an impressive library and marvel at my collection. Hell, I gave every single book away – to students. Why kid myself, I am not going to read any of those books. They are now in better hands. The students - they are the ones I will really miss!
The last day. I hadn’t really planned to go to work at all. I was going to quickly pop in, pack up what was left, take the last remaining things out of my office and quietly slip out of the building. The boss then asked if I would be attending the staff meeting. Sure I said. Love to. She said it was very important and it was, because I was honoured by the entire campus. A standing ovation and a cake. Very nice.
The last ten minutes. I thought I would check my mailbox one last time. I arrived to find that my name was gone and replaced by someone else. Hmm, I thought. Already? I went back up to my office looked around for anything I might have left (the last boxes were now in the car). Nothing, bare. All traces of me were gone including the photos on the wall and my souvenirs of remembrances gone by. I ripped my name plate off the wall just outside the door. I am taking me with me, I thought.
Gone, for good! I closed the door, I looked back one last time and sighed. Next a run downstairs for the final delivery of my office keys, my door fob, my presenter and my headphones. And that was it. Stripped of everything I was.
|A last look back|
I walked out the building, glanced back and then started walking quickly towards the car. And now what?