I’m not going to blog every day, but I wanted to capture the first day of the Big R. That leads me to the question – who am I blogging for? Myself or readers? It’s probably 50/50, but this one’s for me. So, you know the saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” For weeks, I had pictured myself sitting on the porch on Day One in my robe and a cup of coffee to start my retirement. God laughed out loud for sure – we got the edge of the storm that sadly took several lives and devastated several nearby states. It was absolutely pouring this morning. So I stayed in bed instead.
In typical Atlanta fashion, where if you don’t like the weather, just wait 30 minutes, it did brighten up. I went grocery shopping – doesn’t anyone work? The store and parking lot were packed. I took Savannah for a mid-afternoon walk. There were four women playing serious tennis on the court in our apartment complex. Maybe they all retired at 35. And I crossed one item off my bucket list – sort and tidy my baking pan closet. Yep, they have their own closet. I was amazed how many pans I found – not sure why I often use disposable ones when I have great quality, non-stick pans aplenty. If you’re a list-maker like me and like several of my close friends, you know what a joy it is to cross something off a list. In the grocery store, if I pick up an item that’s not on my shopping list, I scribble it down so that I can immediately cross it off. The same with to-do lists. If I complete a task that’s not on there, it gets added one second before being marked complete. Just part of my DNA.
I had a soak bath with one of those lavender bombs that explode in the water – great fun. Except you have to spend five minutes wiping off all the lavender flowers from the sides of the bath. After a bath, I always jump in the shower to get clean! I only thought of the office a few (million) times. I’d look at the time and picture the team in the morning meeting, eating lunch or in the gym. I still automatically go to pick up my office iPhone to check my email and it’s not on the counter. I remember one vacation when I buried it under a huge pile of fabric to keep from checking it. I did dream of the office last night … I was asked to do something and had to remind them I had retired. I’ve had lovely emails and texts asking how my first Big R day went. It really has been the most perfect day and hopefully I will have coffee on the porch on Day Two, and Three, and Four, and …
I think I was born with a thimble on my finger. My earliest memories are of standing next to my mother while she sewed on her treadle Singer sewing machine, soaking up the sound of the needle as it rhythmically moved up and down, up and down, learning how to read patterns, cut fabric, make darts, match seams and wind bobbins. Even the words sing to me – French seams, bias binding, hem stitch, pinking shears, zig zag, zipper foot. I often find myself in the kitchen starting to cook with a thimble still on my finger.
Everyone thought I was counting the days to the Big R … WRONG! It was this weekend that the results of the juried East Cobb Quilt Show entries would be announced. The acceptance or rejection emails were going to be sent out on April 29. I had entered my Baltimore Album quilt. These quilts originated in Baltimore, Maryland, in the 1840s and are a collection of intricately appliquéd blocks or squares. The appliqué, which is a piece of fabric sewn on top of the background, is often in a floral design, but birds and landmarks are also common. I finished my quilt last year after committing to finishing it every New Year for years and years. I was sidelined with my surgery, but that’s just an excuse. I just left it for years in between where it sat on a quilting frame and became part of the furniture. When I finally took it off the frame and unrolled it, I was very relieved a family of moths hadn’t made its home in the folds. When I finished it during my annual quilt retreat in Alabama last year (another post to come), my quilting friends encouraged me to submit it into the juried show – that means you send pictures and because they get more submissions than space, they choose those they want to feature in the show. Well, guess what – they accepted my quilt! I am so thrilled. The show is June 8-10 at the Cobb County Civic Center – if you want more details, send me a message. I’ve never submitted a quilt into a show and I can’t wait to see it hanging in a large space. If I can figure out how to add a picture here, I will. Tomorrow marks the first actual day of the Big R. Already this weekend, I’ve been busy – crossing things off my bucket list. On the list is another quilt … I better get my thimble out – one thing I can’t do is type with a thimble on!
So, we had the grand switching-off-the-alarm ceremony last night. No more will I be jolted out of a dream by that darned alarm, except if I have a plane to catch. But my plans to stay in bed most of the morning were thwarted … gosh darn it! Truth be told, I did wake up shortly after 6 a.m. – I think my body will take a while to adjust – got my coffee and got back into bed with Harry Potter – well, not exactly, but metaphorically. I bought the box set of Harry Potter to re-read over the next few months, along with Lord of the Rings. After a few minutes, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Yep a giant bug on the ceiling. It was huge and had waggly whiskers. I think it was just a cockroach, actually, and I’d love to put up a camera and see where these darned things come in. I don’t have food in the bedroom. I found a scorpion in my shower stall a couple of years ago – did it come up through the drain?
I’m not as afraid of bugs as most Southern Belles, but this one bothered me. It was walking along the crown moulding just above the bed and doing a very bad job … it kept slithering off. I thought they had sticky feet or something. It kept yanking itself back onto the moulding, but one more slip and it would have landed in my coffee. And it was taking so long and kept hesitating right above my head. I gave up and got up. So my first retirement morning plans got cut short. If anyone wonders, I did wait until Cedric got up and then blasted the darned thing with half a can of roach spray … I felt bad – not very bad, but a bit bad as it staggered around up there for a bit – feisty thing didn’t fall immediately, and then I had to chase it on the carpet for a bit before squishing it with a paper towel – sorry, I should have given a yuk warning first for squeamish readers.
The Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” And it’s amazing that a Georgia bug made such a difference to a milestone day for me. But it did mean I started my day earlier. I was going to clean out a bathroom closet but then remembered I can do that next year. I spent the day sorting out all the stuff I brought home from the office this week – tons of memorabilia, cards, pictures – 17 years of memories. There were so many farewells yesterday. It was almost overwhelming. I felt so loved. The communication team grabbed red pens and made an archway for me to walk through when I walked to the elevator. That choked me up. And they made a video for me to watch when I got home – here it is if you’d like to laugh and cry and see the amazing people I’ve worked with over the years. They are funny and silly and clever and bright and all so darned young! Copy and paste this link and it should work.
Yep! But not for long. Tomorrow (4-27) is my last day at The Home Depot, BUT Friday is a vacation day and I’m retiring on 4-30. My first official Big R day is Monday, May 1. That’s a significant day – it’s never been my favorite date because it marks the anniversary of my mother’s death in 1986. That started a new chapter for me – I often said my life was tinged with sadness after she died. That’s another blog post for sure. So, it’s fitting that May 1 will mark another new chapter – and that’s a complete coincidence.
One of the most gratifying thing about retiring is that everyone suddenly asks for your advice. It makes me feel very important. Many years ago, I read somewhere that if you are trying to make a good impression on someone, ask them for their advice. That makes them feel important and they will love you for that. I’m lovin’ many people right now, because I’m dispensing lots and lots of very wise advice. One quick piece is, “Head down, mouth shut.” It makes sense – don’t raise your head above the parapet (or cube wall) or it might get knocked off. And once you say something, you can never take it back. That’s part of the advice I give new married couples. I often get asked for marriage advice (I guess Cedric and I are experts as we’ve been married nearly 39 years) – and my advice is often, “Bite your tongue.” Again, don’t say something that can’t be taken back. You can think all you like, but keep that mouth shut and that tongue still. I wish I would take my own advice sometimes!
But it’s been another day of “lasts” – last Step class in the gym – and the instructor had me at the front of the class doing the cool down … I got a few shimmies in there … yep, belly dancing shimmies (another blog post to come); last evening checking my email on my iPhone; last time doing laundry when I get home – that’s one of the things I’m going to enjoy. I’ll be doing laundry in the morning and not having to jump up from the dinner table when the cycle ends. People are also asking me what I’m going to enjoy most – I think the Big R will give me the gift of time – time to do the ironing when I want and not Sunday afternoon. Ironing? Yep, I LOVE ironing. I love it so much that I have a very expensive Italian beech ironing board permanently set up in the bedroom. I iron and starch almost everything – certainly bed linen, Cedric’s hankies, our table napkins and anything cotton. I love the repetitive movement and the smell and the way everything stacks up neatly on the rack. I’ve always loved the song, “Dashing away with the smoothing iron.” Google it. I’d love to barter ironing for, say, eggs, honey or a massage. If you live in the Vinings and keep bees or chickens, let me know.
So, tomorrow, here I come. Last time walking through the doors using my access badge – the next time I visit, I will have to sign in. The lobby of The Home Depot corporate office is very impressive – how will I feel tomorrow morning? I’ll either float or trip over my own darned feet – I’ll let you know in the next posting.
No customization on my site yet – that likely will wait until the Big R (aka retirement). But packing up a desk after 17 years, albeit a few different desks, cubes, floors, is much like moving house. I’m finding odd objects at the back of each drawer that prompt memories and laughter: the picture of a mouse taped to a binder clip that my dear friend, Dawn, made to remind me to plug my mouse into its cradle each night; pictures and more pictures, each with a story – one of me with President George W. Bush at a store in Baltimore when he shook my hand, walked on, and then came back and told me he had stayed with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace; aprons and more aprons, some hand-painted especially for me, one with the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes to commemorate my citizenship; thank-you notes, many of them for baby booties I have knitted (more on that project later); a copy of one very rude post on our social media site asking if anyone ever proofreads anything on the internal news site – wow, that one hurt; but it’s like with anything – all the millions and millions of words we write and, boom, one inaccuracy and a complaint in the HUGEST font ever. Oh well, you can’t win them all. My favorite complaint post was one accusing me of being a sock puppet because I always said nice things in the comments section. Ouch!
Today, I placed my access badge on the photocopier and made a copy of my picture because I’ll have to give up my badge on the Big R day. It’s me looking 17 years younger. I never lost my badge although it went through the washing machine a few times. My hairstyle doesn’t look too bad, except it’s blonde, highlights very straight and I have bangs. I also have a lot of thick hair – that was before chemo, so now I have wispy, thin hair that has a wave to it – my mother would be thrilled. She spent hours perming my hair when I was little, trying to get it to curl. I digress, but losing your hair during chemo is no fun (more on that whole saga later), although I did have a wig that made me look like Sophia Loren and I never had a bad-hair day. That was in 2010-2011 and you just never really forget. All the memorabilia is in a huge box and I’ll catalogue and sort it out after the Big R.
This morning was my last Monday waking up at 6 a.m. with the alarm – now, that I won’t miss. But with each passing hour, the reality that I am really leaving The Home Depot is sinking in. When you work for a company that’s part of the fabric of society, for a company whose name you don’t need to spell on the telephone, and for a company that most everyone admires, you feel proud and privileged. I only have a few days left – just three more days where the very first thing I do each morning is change my voice mail greeting giving the day’s date so a caller knows it’s current. That’s something I’ve done every morning with hardly an exception for 17 years – you do the math, that’s a lot of greetings. Yep, there will be a lot of adjustment ahead – not least not knowing what day it is!
This is the post excerpt.
Well, here I go – my first retirement blog post. I’m not quite retired, but this has been the longest farewell concert ever. That’s the problem with giving too much notice – I keep seeing co-workers in the elevator and they ask, “Haven’t you gone yet?” Nope, but soon. My last day with the No. 1 retailer in the world, aka The Home Depot, will be Thursday, April 27. Meanwhile, they gave me the biggest and the best retirement party – it’s the standard against which all retirement parties will be graded. More later, once I figure out how to add pictures and get a home page set up.