Chapter 37: Retirement

35491B75-0FD1-44B8-8CD1-BD74C52AC726From the List Of ALS Ironies

I’ll never forget the soul-crushing realization, my first year on the first job I had after graduating from college: there was a retirement party for one of my co-workers, I was just about 25 years old at the time, and the math hit me: 40 more years of work.

Ugh.

I actually liked my job, so it wasn’t that.

40 more years!


Half that amount of time ago, my dad retired, and 20 years, to me, still seemed a long way off at that time. He’d been an extreme workaholic, which, combined with his having been a terrible father, made for a confusing, to put it mildly, childhood and adolescence. I was hurt by his absence, by not having a father around, and yet when he was around, he was relentlessly critical of and judgmental towards me. He triggered me in a way and to an extent that no one I’d ever meet during the remainder of my life did. The minute I’d get irritated, if I raised my voice in some futile attempt to get through to him, he’d call me volatile. When he wasn’t directing his sad, myopic worldview at me, he was either subjecting my mother to his narcissism and sexism, or, as if he wasn’t off at his job way more than he was at home, he’d be holed up in his den doing more work.

Anyway, enough about my dad, except to say that in the run-up to his retirement there was much discussion and speculation about how the workaholic would handle not being employed.

Within weeks, barely unpacked and settled into a new house in a retirement community in Florida, it was reported that he’d never been happier.


Just yesterday I attended the retirement party thrown for me, after my 19 years working at Western Washington University. I hadn’t been on campus in a month and a half, and it was a thoroughly gut-wrenching affair; lovely to be honored for my years of service, heartwarming to be appreciated for the quality of my work and the positive impacts I had as a colleague and supervisor, and yet painful, because of why I had to stop working.

To sum up and conclude:

September 1988 First job after college
October 2019 Disability Retirement after 19 years at Western Washington University
31 Total years worked
Would I still work if I could? HELL Yes!

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