A Very Special Retirement Party

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After 35 years of working for corporate America with some years off for good behavior when my children were little, I am now a free woman and reveling in life as a retiree.  And to clear up any misconception, the previously mentioned “good behavior” was on my part, not necessarily the children’s!

As is the case, I’m sure, with so many other retirees, I don’t miss the work, but I sure will miss the wonderful people I’ve worked with for the past 10 years.  The company I started working for after I returned to the corporate world when my children were older was bought by another a few years later.  A fairly large group became a much smaller group—such is life in corporate America.  My group was and is a tightknit work “family.”  Everyone supports everyone else in large ways and small just as anyone would do in a regular family outside work.

A very fun aspect of my job was that I worked for a flavor company, and almost everyone there is a fellow foodie.  They were willing taste testers for me whenever I would try yet another new recipe and always gave me constructive criticism when necessary.  Most of the time, I’m happy to say, my creations received an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

There are no new recipes today because I want to share with you what my work family–this very special group of people–did to surprise me with the most wonderful retirement party before I left.  I was surprised, touched, and overwhelmed with emotions on multiple levels.

It has been a long-time tradition for my group to have an annual St. Patrick’s Day pot luck lunch with corned beef and cabbage as well as Irish soda bread.  Because four of the people were going to be traveling on St. Patrick’s Day, I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary when it was scheduled the week before.  I always make my two favorite Irish breads to bring in–one is traditional and the other is more like a quick bread, and I got a special request to make my Irish car(b) bomb cupcakes with their Guinness chocolate cake, Bailey’s ganache filling and Bailey’s buttercream frosting—yum!

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The morning of the party was extremely busy for me as I was working feverishly on getting things organized before my last day of work the following week (which is when I was expecting we’d go out to lunch to celebrate).  Because I was so busy, I didn’t go to the lab to snoopervise when I smelled something cooking which—when I thought about it—didn’t really smell like corned beef.  Ordinarily, I’d have been down there to check things out.  I did notice that the break room had a stack of green paper cups and plates for our lunch which turned out to be a total red herring!

I was keeping my eye on the clock because I wanted to get my Irish bread sliced to go along with the corned beef.  Because I had been told we were going to eat in our main conference room, I had left the soda bread and cupcakes in there and planned to set things up shortly before our lunch.  At about quarter to 12, they sent Ray, our IT guy, to my desk to occupy and distract me by going over IT/computer needs for my replacement.  He pulled up a chair by my desk and proceeded to painstakingly go over things that I was sure I had already gone over.  During this time, Ann, the co-worker leprechaun who had organized most of this, stopped by to say that there had been a change of venue because someone had started setting up the food in the lab rather than the conference room.  Ray kept talking at me, and now I was really starting to get edgy because I was afraid I was going to be late and everyone would have eaten half their corned beef without any Irish bread which was still sitting in the conference room.

Ann finally came back to say that the food was set up and to come eat.  I raced into the conference room and grabbed the Irish bread and cupcakes and flew down the hallway so intently focused on getting there that I didn’t see a few telltale signs on the wall.  One said, “Hands off my social security.”  Another said “TIRED with a capital T” as well as “End of the line ahead.”  Had my eyes set on any of these, I would have been clued in.  Instead I burst into the lab, threw down the cupcakes, turned around with the Irish bread, and suddenly realized that everyone was standing around the lab in a big circle waiting for me—along with my husband Roger and two of my good buddies, Jill and Bill, who are retired and who had snuck in through Shipping.  To say that I was stunned is putting it mildly!

In the middle of this lab is a very large work bench/table.  My group had it totally decorated in red—not green for St. Patrick’s Day, but red for my recipe blog!

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The table was loaded with food that everyone had made, and there was no corned beef in sight!

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Instead, what my group had done was to make numerous recipes that I have posted on Fran’s Favs as a tribute to me.  On top of that, my busy, busy supervisor went out of her way to make a diet-friendly baked cauliflower “ziti” casserole that is absolutely delicious and totally approved for the diet we are on together.  I was totally blown away by all of it!  It was such an honor, and I was truly touched by their efforts in making the party so meaningful and special for me.

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As if the party weren’t enough, the group gave me a beautiful hand-crafted wooden sculpture of Cape Cod which is where Roger and I are headed in a couple of months to spend our retirement back in the briar patch with family and friends we have missed in our years of living in Chicago.

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Also, Bill, my now fellow retiree, friend, and transplanted New Englander, gave me a retirement clock.  It has a single hand—and instead of numbers it has the days of the week.  Fun!

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I will never forget the terrific send-off from the best group of co-workers ever.  I can’t imagine a retirement party that could beat the one you gave me.  My years of working with you all will remain a dear memory—and I know with all the social media we will stay in touch.

Once I am settled on Cape Cod, I will be back to trying out new recipes, so ciao for now—and more chow later!

One year ago:  Lemon Chicken with Cannellini Beans and Rosemary, DIY Yellow Cake Mix

Two years ago:  Jammers, White Chocolate and Blueberry Brownies

A Very Special Retirement Party

Here are the recipes my group made.  Two of the recipes are ones I’ve given to them but haven’t had the chance to make yet.

Italian Beef

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Sloppy Joes

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Brussels Sprouts

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Cinnamon Pillow Cookies

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Corny Grains

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Tres Leches cake

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Two favorites not posted yet…

Oatmeal Caramelitas

Whoopie Pies (made with green mint filling for St. Paddy’s Day!)

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