Not even his name

“Fifty years of public service”, my father sighed.

His hand moved slowly, tracing the edge of the crystal bowl.
I didn’t know what to say.

“They couldn’t even spell my name correctly… ”

Through the window I could see the naked branches of our oak sway with a persistent wind. The rain had ceased and even the magpies were silent. From far away I could hear a door being slammed shut.

I couldn’t look him in his eyes. As a son I couldn’t face my father’s tears.

“Can I make you some tea?”, I asked.
“Forced retirement…” he sighed again.

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I remember the crystal bowl my father got after fifty years (?) of public service, but he was not forced to retire. I wonder how he would have reacted to that?

Friday Fictioneers is curated by Rochelle, who leads us through a journey each week writing to a new photographic prompt. Visit her and read he fantastic positive story on this bowl…

May 23, 2018

75 responses to “Not even his name

  1. I feel sad for him. My father retired recently and he loved his job. You captured that sadness in the words quite effectively.

  2. Such an emotional piece. I remember my own dad retiring after 25 years and he could choose something from a catalogue! My mum chose some posh china for him. Ha.

  3. You’ve constructed that story beautifully. Having the narrator look away through the window to avoid the embarrassment of meeting his father’s eyes is very true to life; and I love the way you use the weather and the date to emphasise the emotions. Lovely, sad story, Bjorn

  4. Dear Bjorn,

    Such a touching story, very well told. “They didn’t even spell my name right…” Very telling statement about the coldness of corporations. Glad this didn’t really happen to your father.



  5. Yes, servitude has little value now, we are just cogs in the wheel.
    Progress – I think not – how valueless we are now..
    i am sad that your dad did not survive retiring. For me, it has opened a door.
    Kind regards.
    Anna :o]

  6. When women retire, they still have meaningful work to do. It’s harder for men, I think, who often find themselves feeling useless. You’ve done a fine job of conveying that emotion

      • I think that already happens when we (women) find our bodies can no longer produce the quantities of work we used to be able to accomplish. Because of my back problems, I do a little work, stop to rest, repeat, repeat. . . . .if I allow my mind to travel another 10 years into my future, it could be quite discouraging. So I just don’t go there, and in the meantime do all I can to lose some weight, strengthen my back and core, and carpe diem 🙂

  7. You caught the mood – especially the shock at this turn of events. A bowl after 50 years of service… I’m not sure how I’d react.

  8. I know the feeling…seems a bit hollow in comparison to a lifetime of giving. I worked for 27 years as a volunteer… I got a thin little blanket with a seal on it. Hardly compares…. just saying. You did a great job of capturing that feeling.

  9. Wow… both you and Keith gave crystal bowls after 50 years (well almost for Keith…)
    Yours is particularly heartbreaking – not spelling his name correctly? Retirement is difficult enough for so many who find themselves with nothing to do to fill the hours during the day…
    Beautifully done.

  10. I’ve heard of such things, of course. No one in my family worked for someone who would make you retire. Most were ranchers for whom retirement wasn’t even an option. I’m not sure which is worse.

  11. Redundancies is an area I am familiar with unfortunately. After 50 you are marked down as a mature worker anyway. Sad and touching story.

  12. My father in law was forced out of his job as a college lecture before he wanted to go – he’d gone to high up the pay scale, they wanted cut backs and brought in less well qualified, cheaper tutors to replace him. That feeling of redundancy, of feeling useless after so many years of having a purpose – it sent him into a depression that took a very long time for him to get over.
    You’ve captured that feeling very well – sad but perfectly done

  13. Keith’s story is in the same vein. Great minds, and all that.
    Mine was a forced retirement. Actually, they said they discontinued my position. I didn’t get a trinket or remembrance. It’s disappointing after 31 years, but I’m not bitter. It was a great company to work for and I was able to save up for retirement and we’ll be fine. On the up side, it’s better to retire early while you still have your health than to wait and die shortly after quiting work.

  14. Sometimes token gestures are just that. People around here used to clocks a reminder of a time well spent. Nowadays it’s usually some piece of crystal, no idea why.

  15. When I retired my colleagues gave me a bathroom rug. A work of art, maybe, but stunning in its inadequacy after eleven years in that job.

  16. Wonderful story about the feelings one experiences at retirement.
    I think for men it’s a bit more difficult. Although, I can hear my father’s saying, “I can’t wait to retire”, until he have to. Your father must have been very dedicated to his work and was proud to do it. Cheers to our fathers ….
    Isadora 😎

  17. I’m sorry that your father didn’t enjoy his retirement. You did a wonderful job in capturing the sorrow of being set aside when forced to retire. Even retirement by choice, or because of health issues, as was the case for my father, is a difficult transition in life. Nicely written!

  18. Such a poignant story. It must be awful to retire after so long and have your name spelt incorrectly – an indication of how much you mattered, or not. So good – I really feel for father and son and hope it wasn’t like this for your dad.

  19. It seems to me retiring after 50 years would be like losing the vessel that holds us. A poetic, beautiful and sad story that made me wonder how I will feel one day.

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