“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.
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
I feel sad for him. My father retired recently and he loved his job. You captured that sadness in the words quite effectively.
My father did not really survive retiring…
Oh, I am sorry to hear that.
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.
Sounds a lot better… though fancy china is maybe not what he really wanted.
Yes, I think he would have preferred the gold watch 😊 Twenty-five years service and then your wife steals your gift. Ha
A really touching memory and story. I hope your father was well remembered beyond his years of service.
It’s not exactly like my father… but he really disliked retiring…
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
Thank you… I actually tried to think how I would act… and looking away would be exactly that human reaction.
Forced retirement, is that a P.C. way of saying sacked or fired? Feel sorry for him, he seems at a loss.
Yes it’s a euphemism for being sent to the ivory graveyard… or the stage just before the ceaseless rosemary
Thank you Neil
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.
He did get his crystal bowl though..
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.
I hope that I will retire in happiness too.
Very touching and emotive.
Thank you Lisa.
Your use of the misspelled name and magpies enhance the depression (?), sorrow (?), of the father. Nicely told.
That’s what so fun with flash fiction… you have to capture the essence in just such simple images.
A sorrowful ale indeed, but at least he didn’t get run over by a bus as did my crystal bowl retiree!
Click to read my FriFic tale
I hope that there is no bus in the next installment.
There are so many great aspects to this. You showed the feelings of both extremely well.
No reason to tell… you can show emotions …
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 has been the case traditionally… I hope it’s changing… but maybe it will be women feeling useless instead.
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 🙂
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.
I think a bowl or a clock is quite normal… I got a gift card for a small amount after 20 years….
It goes to show that appreciation can only only be measured in grateful hearts and genuine smiles.
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.
Yes I saw the parting with being a professional in my father… I don’t want that for myself… he could have taken up painting instead (he was a good painter)
Poignant tale, delicately told.
Good one, Bjorn
Thank you… I wanted to make the voice a bit more solemn this time… playing with small signs instead of big drama.
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…
My father did get a crystal bowl and was actually quite happy with it…
And there is nothing wrong with that! Especially if he is happy with it.
Entering the November of his life. I hope he finds something to occupy his days.
Sometimes it’s a hard transition…
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.
Being forced is never good I think…. but having to work for your living longer than you want is probably harder in some ways. But at least you feel yourself useful
50 years is a long time. hopefully, it was worth it.
Fifty years is very long… If I work until normal retirement it will be thirty years with one company.
Redundancies is an area I am familiar with unfortunately. After 50 you are marked down as a mature worker anyway. Sad and touching story.
You probably survive financially.. I think it’s the sense of being useful.
A well-written reflection on something which can be very difficult for some people.
For some it is… for other it’s a transition to something much better.
Sad and tender – I especially loved the “November.” It really solidified the mood, with that one word I had the feelings of the season.
November is just another word for depression.
And I always thought it was February….
Nowadays it is a brass/silver plate here. Poignant.
A plate with the name misspelled?
Infrequently yes. 🙂
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
My father’s experience was similar… he was a professor… and though he was emeritus afterwards… he felt useless
So sad, putting people on the scrap heap when they still have so much to contribute
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.
I have a few years… and hope to retire with enough of good writing ahead of me to make me happy to leave.
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.
It is always different… we’ll have to see if I get anything or is forced to early retirement.
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.
Indeed… I almost think that sometimes it’s better with no gift at all.
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 ….
I think many people still enjoy retirement… but you have to find a new purpose in life
This is very true, Bjorn. A new purpose revitalizes us. It’s helps to feel validation. Hopefully, people are healthy when they retire and can do all of the things they have wanted to do but needed time. A thought provoking story …. Isadora 😎
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!
I think the lack of purpose after retirement is hard… for women there has been so much purpose in the family but for men it has always been work… hopefully these things change.
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.
It wasn’t really like that… but it was rough for my father to retire…
Well told…you really captured the emotions of a moment like this.
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.
Beautifully written. That crystal cuts like a knife with the misspelling of his name.
Retirement does have it ups and downs,Enjoyed. The feelings bled through your story. Well done.