My mother's retirement from Walmart was a sad day for her coworkers

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

When my mother decided to retire from Walmart at the age of sixty-two, she started counting down how many days she had left to work before she could hang up her smock for good. She said the days flew by as fast as an out-of-control freight train.

When her last week on the job arrived, her coworkers joined in on the fun of counting down her last days until retirement. "How many days left?" they would shout as they passed her department.

My mother would shout back the number of days. "Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Zero."

According to my mother, her coworkers were sad to see her leave because she was a good friend to everyone, but they were all happy for her and perhaps a little jealous that she was leaving. Although my mother had been looking forward to her retirement, she felt sad, too. She knew she would miss her work friends.

"When you work with someone every day for ten years, you get attached," she said. "I grew a bond with these people over the years. I really looked forward to seeing them every day, but I looked forward to my retirement even more."

"I felt sad about leaving so many friends behind, but I was done working for a living. It was time for me to stay home and focus on my husband."

Finally, the day came when my mother could officially call herself a retiree. Many of her fellow Walmart associates had tears in their eyes when they said goodbye. They were sorry to see her leave. As each of her coworkers finished their shifts for the day, they stopped by my mother's department to wish her a tearful farewell.

"One woman who didn't even have enough money for herself gave me a card with a few dollars in it," my mother said. "She told me to do whatever I wanted with the money as long as I used it on myself. It was such a sweet gesture."

My mother's managers even bought her a retirement cake and invited everyone into the office for a slice to honor her decade of service to the company. As people hugged my mother over the cake, some cried. "We will miss you so much," they said.

At the end of the night, my mother said goodbye to the other second-shift employees who routinely worked with her past midnight. Her coworkers crowded around her for one last hug. Some of them sobbed softly and wiped their tears on the sleeves of their shirts. Others sobbed loudly and followed her into the parking lot until she got into her car and drove away.

My mother said she never felt as loved as she did when she retired from Walmart. "It was bittersweet," she said, "but I wish I could do it all over again. I would if I could."

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