Yesterday, (March 29, 2013) I walked into IBM as an employee for the last time. It was a strange feeling – all the different emotions – happy, sad, relieved, stress free, etc. as I turned in my laptop, badge and credit card. This made it so final and real. It was hard saying good-bye to individuals, co-workers I have worked with over the years. It wasn’t a “good-bye” in the sense I will never see them again. I know I will, I’m not leaving the area, well not yet anyway. I think the first month will feel like vacation before I realize I no longer need to drive south on congested Route 27.I made my decision to retire last October while on vacation at Myrtle Beach. The beach and the mountains have always been a place where I could truly relax and not think about work and what was waiting for me when I returned. I always knew when I would know it was time. Time to retire. During that 10 day vacation at the beach, we relaxed, walked the beach twice a day, got up early to watch the sun rise, enjoyed the pool and basically did nothing. I brought jewelry projects to work, but I never took them out of the bag. During one of our walks I turned to my husband and said “ if this is what retirement is like. I can do this”. No stress, no final deadlines, no presentations to make, just being free and doing whatever I like. I decided yes this feels right and hence my decision. I had until the middle of March when I signed my retirement papers to change my mind – I never once thought about changing my mind. Many close friends and co-workers (not everyone knew of my decision) still did not believe I was going to retire until I officially announced. I did not make any formal announcement as many others before me have done, I just wanted to slide under the radar. I did not want a lot of attention or focus on me. I knew it would be too emotional. I was fine in group settings, but the one-on-ones were very difficult.
IBM does provide a retirement dinner where I can invite a small number of people to celebrate. Well, I could not cut my invite list down to the required number so I said I would pay for the extras and on top of that I went out in style, a limo was rented for all of us to eliminate driving and more time for partying. It was a wonderful, memorable fun night – lots of stories and lots of laughter. The champagne started flowing at 5PM and the evening did not end for me until 1AM. Some pictures were taken, but most did not turn out. I also had a wonderful luncheon sponsored by many co-workers – it was unexpected and a surprise. All in all it was a very nice send off to the next chapter of my life. I can honestly say I will miss all the IBMers I have known and worked with over the years. I have some very close friends I will miss seeing on a daily basis.
In total I have worked as a professional for 43 years, 13+ at Wisconsin Telephone Company in Milwaukee and 30 at IBM in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I have had successful careers at both companies and never regretted my move to Maryland to work for IBM. I have a lot of fond memories from both companies. I will say I am happy I left both companies on my terms. A lot can be said for that.
The last two nights I slept soundly and felt totally rested by morning. In fact I woke up earlier than normal. I had not felt that good in a long time. I think all built up stress has left my body. I mentioned this to my husband and he replied “Welcome to retirement!” I received a card and letter for a retired co-worker – he said “if it takes longer than a nanosecond to adjust – see a doctor”. I can admit, I do not need to see a doctor. I can and will adjust.
I am looking forward to the next chapter – more time for art and jewelry making, exercising at a normal hour and doing absolutely nothing. My calendar is already filling up with art classes and retreats.
Woohoo – happy days ahead! No regrets.