I've been retired for two months now. It was not my decision and I'm still reeling from the shock.
My sister was diagnosed with cancer. My husband and I were passing like ships in the night as we flew back and for to Colorado to care for her. In February we got the news that there wasn't anything else the doctors could do---chemo wasn't working & there weren't any trials---so my sister went on hospice care. My daughter was moving to Japan. My husband developed a serious infection in his foot and had to have surgery. I was worrying about him as I packed my bags and prepared to move in with my sister and act as her caregiver.
I kept in contact with work primarily to have something to think about besides watching my sister die. My boss seemed to be caring and supportive-telling me not to worry about work. My sister died April 30. I had so many things to deal with I didn't tell work( or anyone besides immediate family for that matter) right away. I knew I still had a few sick days and vacation time to use and I thought I was being responsible by giving my boss a definite date for my return.
I walked into work after being gone for over 2 months, still grieving for my sister and adjusting to being in my own house again. My boss called me into her her office to meet with the HR person to discuss my time off. I was informed that I was in violation of company policy and subject to disciplinary action. I didn't know what to say. Caring for my sister didn't stop when she died, I still had time coming to me, no one, my boss or HR, had said anything about this beforehand. I was told that I would know my fate in a couple of days.
I tried to focus on work, but my brain kept going over and over the interview. What should I have said, done, not done.....What will they do???? A "bad girl" letter and make me pay back the time???
They called my in at 4:00 on Thursday afternoon and handed me a paper that said TERMINATED. What?? This was a bad dream. I've been with the organization 17 years, I love my job, I've always been the good girl who followed the rules, heck I was a person in charge who enforced the rules.
I sat in stunned silence. . Ding! Ding! Ding! For today only we have a blue light special Instead of being fired I could retire, but I had to decide then and there. I called my husband in tears and we decided retirement was the best of the worst. After I told them about my decision the HR person started talking about what kind of cake I would like. (Really, you've just destroyed my career and taken away my income and I'm supposed to care about cake???). Then they were both kind enough to tell me that since I must be so stressed I didn't have to work until 9:00 that night. So I bolted out the door and went home in tears.
Some how I got through the next two weeks, concentrating on doing my job and getting things in order for my replacement. My boss had the temerity to tell me how graceful I was during all this. (Really bitch, wtf do you want me to do? I am leaving with some dignity). I didn't tell anyone at work what really happened. I was afraid if I said anything it would affect my retirement benefits and I was humiliated and embaressed. I smiled through my retirement party, listened to the laundry list of all the wonderful things I had accomplished, hugged my co-workers and didn't even wince when my boss hugged me and told me how much she would miss me. I held my head up and I walked out the door to my car. And then cried all the way home, wondering what my future holds.