She started her career at the General Hospital at Passaic back in 1983, the year I was born. It was a small community hospital, and still is but modernized. It's gone through ownership changes, hirings, firing, protests, union troubles. And she's gone through the ringer of the ICU, NICU, Heart Room, Recovery Room, ER, and back to the ICU for the majority of her career there. So both hospital and employee have gone through everything together. Quite an amazing feat!
As she sat in the chair of the Human Resource contact, mom couldn't help but cry. The Director of HR came by to wish her well and to thank her for her many years of service, welcoming her to come back anytime to visit or to help out part-time. Mom said she intends to volunteer some of her time at the hospital. Obviously it's hard to part with the place.
As we walked through the different units informing a few of her colleagues of her impending early retirement, she would say things like, "this is where my two children were born" to give them perspective on her long tenure with these people. Some were jealous, but most were happy that she was going to enjoy her time without work. Even the new head nurse, who we also informed out of courtesy, who had never met her previously said he had heard good things about her.
Mom is obviously a friendly face in the hospital because everywhere we walked someone would smile, say hello, ask her how she was doing, or even say that it's been a while since they've seen her. Which is true, she's been out for a while on disability (foot surgery), and will continue to be out until February (doctor's orders). Whether it was a sanitary engineer, security service worker, transporter, or any of the many doctors and nurses - they all said hello and when she informed them of the news, they all congratulated her.
We collected her belonging from her 2 lockers in the locker room. And she decided to come back one more time before her last day to bid farewell to the other staff she didn't see that day. I know she was sad to leave for the day and know she wouldn't be an employee there at some point in the near future, but I also know that she will enjoy her retirement to the fullest possible.
The experience made me happy and proud to witness the impact she's made on a small NJ hospital and the staff and patients that come in and out of it on a daily basis. It was great to see how much my mom loved the hospital and her job. But it also made me wonder... Do people even stay at their jobs that long any more? It's a shame they don't because a lifetime of dedication is for the benefit of the institution and a clear indicator of character.