One of my Whirlpool heroes retired Friday. I met Ann at the call center in Knoxville when we both were on a project to centralize our service operations. Little did I know that this woman – who had a marked resemblance to me – would become a mainstay in my life for over 20 years and counting.
My curly-haired work sister would support me in running half marathons across country, grabbing coffee and water as needed. She would mentor me in my career, and she would be instrumental in bringing me back to Whirlpool in 2016. I, in turn, inspired her to rock her curls and talk about her feelings. Now she’ll show me what it’s like to retire like a badass. That’s just the way she is.
When she first told me she was retiring, I was devastated. I’d somehow fantasized about working together for another 5 years or so and maybe even being on the same team. Instead, almost as soon as I got back, she decided to retire. Luckily, we had time. We spent lots of evenings walking after work and had countless meals together in the last 2 years. By the time last Friday rolled around, she had settled into a retirement mindset, and I was happy for both of us. After all, I would no longer be called “not Ann” or mistaken for her in the hallway. Whirlpool will be my kingdom now, and she will have her own.
I am always reminded of the Patty Loveless song, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye?” when change is inevitable. When life is good, I try to hold on tightly and keep things the same at least for a little while. But, the Universe has a way of dashing those dreams and moving us forward. I know that I’m learning to let go when I find myself humming with a smile, life’s about changing… nothing ever stays the same.
This morning I opened up my Facebook account, and I saw a post from 2013 announcing that it was Day #1 of my Louisiana adventure. Five years ago today, I moved home with the intention to stay. A picture of me and my friend Jadine in Bay St. Louis was next, marking the weekend that Whirlpool contacted me about the job I would eventually take in 2016. And yet another post reminded me of a kayaking trip on the Wolf River 7 years ago in Memphis with a young Ashok. The news feed just keeps on rolling.
I know I’ll see Ann again, but it will be different. WE will be different. I always say that either you are evolving or you’re not. Right before saying our work good-byes to Ann, I met several new people on a backpacking trip. A few of us are making plans to hang out soon. I have no idea if any of these friendships will stick, but eventually some will. My life here will evolve. In three years or so, today and even next year will be a memory in my lifetime news feed. Because nothing ever stays the same….