Saturday, August 7, 2010

Last Woman Standing

As of yesterday I’m the last woman left in our department at work. I work in a blue collar union shop with approximately 40 press operators.

Our department has had almost 100% turnover in management in the past 3 years. My boss passed away from cancer in 2008. That was a very difficult time for all of us watching as he went through chemo and radiation and we saw the transformation the horrible drugs caused. And it was hard for me to talk to him before he passed as this was the time when I was dealing with the issues of caring for my step-mother who was dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

During the time of my boss’s illness one of the women managers made the choice with her husband to retire and move to Winthrop. I am so happy for her and to this day she remains one of my dearest friends. It was so hard to lose her. Hard on the department and hard on me. I spent one entire counseling session crying about the loss of her leaving. Hail to the purple pen!

In September of 2009 another manager and dear friend made the choice to also retire after 37 years with the company. He and his wife moved to Enumclaw and are very happy. They live right next door to their grandchildren’s school and life is good. I see them occasionally but it isn’t the same. He was like a second father to me when I needed it the most.

In May of 2010 a rather controversial dayside manager accepted a position in Phoenix and left the company. It was actually somewhat of a relief. Now the remaining managers could bring calm and order back to the room. Or so I thought…

In June of 2010 the 2nd dayside manager decided to resign to take time to care for his dying father. So commendable. But very hard to lose him. I’m so happy he has the opportunity and means to be able to spend quality time in the last days of his father’s life. Miss his quirky sense of humor.

Yesterday was the last day of the remaining woman manager. She was very valuable to our department and had become a great friend. And, she was the only other woman working in the department besides me. She has decided to move back to New York to be with her family. I wish her great success and happiness and hope she has all her wishes come true. I will miss our talks and jokes. Especially about the craziness of working with all the union men.

But this brings me to women friends both in the workplace and at home. My friends are very valuable to me. There used to be a time when I had many friends. My daughter used to complain that we couldn’t go anywhere without running into people I knew. Even on vacation in another city! But they weren’t deep friendships. They were acquaintances.

I now have very few friends but the friends I do have mean the world to me. I can honestly say I love all of them. I feel they are true friends. Some of them are relatives, some ex-coworkers, and some from as far back as high school. I feel like I can trust them with my deepest darkest secrets and I hope they feel the same about me. They know more about me than anyone and it’s ok. It’s not scary. I used to really be afraid that if any of my “friends” knew the real me they would not like me. I don’t feel that way anymore and I hold each one of them in my heart and will do so forever. When friends are in trouble you circle the wagons and protect them. You are there when they need help, support, celebrating joy, or just a shoulder to cry on. No judging and no back stabbing. Just love. As my one friend so beautifully puts.. “from my heart to yours”.

So through the loss of people I work with I have found joy in true friends. Joylicious!!

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