Yesterday was my mother's last day of work in a library; today, she begins her well-earned retirement. After, um, forty-two years? Forty-three? More? Some amazing amount of time 'round about there - she was working in a library when she and my dad met, and next year is their fortieth anniversary. Over the years, she's done it all - cataloging, reference, technical services, serials management, research support, solo, team-based - and in every kind of library, too - university, elementary school, military base, public, community college. She spent her last several years being the Voyager systems administrator for her college, which took her in even more new directions.
I remember helping my mom alphabetize cards for the card catalog at the base library at Incirlik (I was 6 or 7) using one of those long flippy metal and plastic alphabetizing doohickeys - you know, the ones that were really long and narrow, with the letters of the alphabet on each of the pieces of plastic, and you could slide the cards behind the right letter and sort 'em all out? Those were brilliant. When I was in high school, my mom was the librarian for the base's elementary school, and the library was the only classroom with a computer; I will never forget the horrible voice of the spelling game program that the kids always wanted to play with! And she would always bring home new books to read to us over dinner. (Bear in mind this was to a family of two adults and two teenagers - didn't matter, we had children's books read to us at dinnertime!)
My mother has forgotten more about librarianship than I will ever know. Growing up, I'd always assumed I'd follow in my father's footsteps, but when that path was closed to me, discovering that my mother's was open was serendipitous. She was a great help to me in grad school, a soothing balm through some of the rougher patches of my professional life, and a cheerleader through it all.
Thanks, Mama, and happy retirement... Now the fun can begin!