Through a Different Lens
My family was blessed to attend my mother’s retirement party last week. In an earlier post, I marveled at discovering another side of my now deceased father. Last week, thanks to the generosity of her coworkers, I was treated to a similar discovery with my mom.
I remember when my mom first went to work, back in the dark ages when I was in fifth grade. She’d stayed at home with me and my sister, serving as room mom, on the PTA, and as team mom for our various softball teams. I knew who she was back then–she was my mom–begrudging cook, housekeeper, laundress, dutiful wife, and shoulder to cry on. I remember being unhappy that she wouldn’t be home after school, but with little say in the matter, I was forced to adjust and get on with life.
When we paid our first visit to Mom at work, I got the shock of my life. She wasn’t just my mom anymore! She was an employee, a co-worker, and a friend to people I’d never met. Suddenly, the box I’d placed her in seemed bursting at the edges. I had to put her in a new box, this one bigger and not so familiar.
Then we moved to Georgia and Mom got another job. A different job. This time she had a desk and a lot more responsibility. She worked as long and hard as my father. Humm… The box was getting full again, but I was a teenager and didn’t take much notice. Sometimes I did, like when I had to make my own food, but otherwise, she was still Mom.
And so it went, different jobs, different desks, different coworkers. She just kept chugging along, working well past when my dad retired. Working past his death (thank God), and working until a milestone birthday when she finally called it quits. Well, not totally. She’s already arranged a part-time job so she doesn’t go stir crazy in her golden years.
Even though I’m an adult now with kids of my own, I was still surprised to hear the ways my mom has touched others at her retirement party. She stood in the center of all that attention, embarrassed, downplaying her accomplishments, and I sat there once again thinking, Who are you? But that’s the beauty of this thing called life. It changes, people change, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s better than okay. My mom is more than my mom–she’s her own person and she’s changing every day. Maybe someday she’ll retire again and I’ll have the opportunity to discover yet another side of her I never knew existed. Wouldn’t that be grand?