One of the factors instrumental in helping me make the 'quit while you're winning' decision to leave the NHS was the fact that eight very trusted and valued colleagues have also left, for reasons various, in the last year or so. I don't think it was anything I said but I am now the only remaining health visitor from the original team of six who had worked together for so many years. Building up a trusting, mutually supportive rapport with colleagues doesn't happen overnight and can't be manufactured on those team-building days where we have to build models with paper plates and straws to demonstrate how co-operative we can be, or sit in a circle and throw a ball of string back and forth to create that complex web of communications model. Ye gods, I won't miss those but I do miss all my colleagues enormously.
I've donated to more leaving gifts and been to more retirement events than I care to think about, so many that I don't think there's anyone left to come to mine were I to have one. In fact I'm not, I can't quite face the managerial trawl through the personnel file of thirty years by people who don't know me and the exhumation of some funny letter written when I was twenty four or something. It's too excruciating to contemplate.
So no, we'll be having a family dinner, because they after all have lived and breathed this with me and also shared me with hundreds and hundreds of other people down the years, I'm often a bit thin with the words after a gruelling day dealing with everyone else's problems and they have all understood and respected that and never given me a hard time about it.
Perhaps we'll also have a virtual party on here though and lightly hello-ed Marmite soldiers all round (thinking of your kidneys)
Last night it was au revoir to another buddy, the surgery counsellor, one of those special people who you know you can always talk to when the going gets tough, one of those who puts her head around the door with a cup of tea and we grab ourselves a ten minute natter. We've worked together with lots of families over the years seeing many of them through some very difficult and tempestuous times and we have talked in depth about things like 'transferable skills' in recent weeks as we both move on from life in the NHS.
I had really meant to say a huge 'thank you' to her with a very special little quilted wall-hanging.
'Meant to' seems to be the limit of things right now as I wind things up work-wise and proceed to extract my financial reward from the well-guarded NHS vaults. Thank goodness for Malcolm in Pensions who has patiently talked me through it all...have you filled in pages seven to eleven...make sure you've dated it...don't forget the pink form, it's very important. All very distracting, I'm trying not to count the days or the hours (eleven working days - 82.5 hrs) but have never known work to suddenly feel quite so draining; I'm ending every day absolutely shattered, it's all quite emotional because of course I still love the day to day work. So in fact by Tuesday evening there still wasn't a lot to show for this retirement gift that I needed by Wednesday but then I had a much better idea.
This colleague one of a group in one of the many surgeries I have worked in who asked me to teach them patchwork and quilting, so I did a six week Beginners Class for them and we've carried on stitching together ever since. Girl's Night In have met regularly for about nine years now, might thread a needle or turn a heel (knitting allowed) but are much more likely to exhaust the oxygen supply in the room as they catch up with the goss and put the world to rights.
So this very lucky friend and her husband are off on a well-deserved world tour to celebrate her retirement, how dreadful then would it be if she found herself sitting on the Cook Islands with absolutely nothing to do?
I have solved the dilemma and you saw it here first. I'm adding this to the growing portfolio for dovegreyreader enterprises. The tin measures just 6"x 4", buried underneath the fabric, templates and patterns and hopefully sealed inside the inspiration to make herself something very special with which to remember a brilliant career as she stitches her own memories into it.
Does that get me off the hook do you think?