Friday, September 7th was my last day on the job. The Wednesday evening prior, I got a haircut, the first in about two years. I was ready for a change.
I told the barber I wanted to keep the ponytail. I brought it home and glued it into my work hat. The co-worker sitting nearest me the next morning at the daily briefing looked suspiciously at my hair below the hat line. He made scissors with his fingers and ran them near his ear (our local sign language for you got haircut?). I turned my head. He shrugged and returned his attention to the meeting when he saw the ponytail. Our crew leader was telling us we could expect some real changes around here in the very near future. I stood up and announced to all that I was ready for a change right now! I pulled off my hat (with ponytail attached) and I thought those guys were going to fall out of their chairs. The faces before me expressed TOTAL SHOCK! Jaws dropped to release hoots and gasps! That was fun!
The next day, my last on the job, I enjoyed a great barbecue lunch with soon to be former co-workers. Along with cards and gifts, handshakes, hugs, and well wishes, I was presented a unique lamp made mostly from a water meter and meter box lid. I also received a dump truck load of my favorite drink – Mt Dew.
The following evening, my wife, Diane said we were going out for pizza. It turned out to be a surprise retirement party with family and friends. The best surprise was my son and granddaughter flying here and attending both parties. I enjoyed seeing everyone, and I sincerely appreciated all the cards and gifts, handshakes, hugs, and well wishes.
It occurred to me that the act of retiring is a bit like the act of getting married. You can get married quietly at a courthouse, go home and say, “Okay, we’re married;” or, you can have an unforgettable celebration of a lifetime with family and friends. When you retire, you can go home after your last day on the job and say, “I’m officially retired now,” or you can celebrate with family and friends and make it a meaningful occasion.
The second-best surprise at the pizza party was Diane’s gift: a lift. Not a ride home – a car hoist. I, a humble back yard mechanic, will be able to stand upright under a car to work on it (or just to enjoy the view). Years ago, I came very close to buying a lift. It would have cleaned out my hobby account, but I would have recovered. Before I ordered it, I was diagnosed with cancer. Someone asked me, “Do you want to leave that nice of a gift for Diane’s next husband?”
I saw my Radiation Oncology doctor today (Sept 18th). The Aid who came out to escort me to the exam room looked confused when she approached. She said she almost didn’t recognize me, “You shaved your beard….. Wasn’t your hair longer? Did you get younger?” I had blood drawn and tested in advance; the doctor pronounced me (my PSA) “Back to undetectable.” Back to my favorite diagnosis. He said to test again in six months. Smiling, he affirmed reports of a most memorable radiation patient in Wonder Woman underwear.