“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~ A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh
The moment is gone. She is gone. And now it is Friday evening with the knowledge that I will never see our social services coordinator again.
Another person will come and take her place. Just like the people before her.
The residence, MY NEIGHBORS, altogether collected $295 for her. I think they tossed it into a money order and put it in one of two greeting cards that were set aside for her.
This apparently is the most money that was ever collected for any member of SGC staff who was leaving their position here. And yes, this is saying a lot. Many of us were waiting for her to go to lunch. This morning as I was having my morning coffee, Mrs. Irwin mentioned that she was going to have lunch with two co-workers from which the agency that hired her.
It was going to be a 90 minute lunch. What were they going to do, fire her?? It was her last day of work here.
90 minutes was all that was needed in order to set up the room, put out a spread of finger foods and snacks, decorate a little with flowers and balloons and then sit and wait for her to return back to work in the dark.
She actually arrived a little bit after 1:00 PM and some of the neighbors were getting ants in their pants. But eventually she arrived back to work from lunch and the lights went back off, the door shut, and about HALF of all total residents who live here….. sat in total and complete silence.
The apartment manager was behind it all. And so was Mr. Irwin, her husband. He would show up later and join us for a brief time.
It worked. She admitted that she had convinced herself that she only THOUGHT something was coming, but couldn’t quite say for sure what exactly it would be. All of those neighbors who would have been the perfect candidates for letting the cat out of the bag, either by accident or on purpose, never gave her a clue that we were planning a gathering in the afternoon.
She admitted rather quickly that she became misty-eyed. But she did not actually break down into tears. She was given a plant from the collective group. She also received a nice bouquet of flowers that I know of and the money.
I personally wrote her a poem. Telling her that it is hard to say farewell but that we here on the property would remember her and miss her.
Then someone just jumped on in and bragged that poetry is what I do best. I don’t know why they jumped in like that. Mrs. Irwin knew that I wrote poetry.
The event came to an end and Mrs. Irwin made a point to visit those who were unable to get out of their homes to say goodbye to them.
I told her personally that I would be back and I came home to take off the black suit I had put on. I did see her going along the sidewalk, passing by my front door, but I never chased her down.
I went over to her office and she was still gone. Or so I thought.
She was in the apartment manager’s office behind closed doors with all three members of staff together.
I kept getting looks from our maintenance man. A person who doesn’t have a very high score for resident approval ratings. He never gave me any indication of whether or not they were having a private conversation or just chit-chatting with the door closed. He just kept looking at me like he was privileged and I was an outsider.
It was pissing me off because he kept looking through the window in the door, but would not acknowledge anything about me being there. So I left.
Then a little bit later, no more than fifteen minutes I had received a telephone call that a home health nurse was coming to visit. So I scattered to go back to the office area to do what I had to do and say those words that I hate saying and be able to find closure to the situation.
But when I got into the building, she was gone.
I felt the tears building up. But the wind that was powerfully blowing into my face prevented them from falling down my face. I was asked later by the visiting nurse if I cried but I told her that I almost did but could not.
And as you probably can already tell, I am so frustrated and disappointed and actually BLAMING the maintenance man for this missed opportunity. Usually when a door is closed, that means privacy. But he could have given me some sort of indication. And he didn’t. He could have, what a selfish man.
I ran outside and looked at the parking space that she had been parking in for the past eight or nine months and it was empty.
She was gone. The apartment manager even told me that she was gone and it was final.
Some will argue that since I didn’t actually tell her goodbye that I don’t have to and that she will come back. I do believe that anything is possible. But for her to come back to visit or whatever is less than favorable. At least for now. Maybe down the road.
I begin the weekend, angered and hurt and disappointed.
So farewell Mrs. Irwin. You’ve done so much more than what you realize for me and for the rest of us. I am going to miss you.