My mother left the workforce toward the end of last week. It was time.
She’s well past the recommended retirement age. Ordinarily, I’d report a person’s age when it’s germane to the story I’m attempting to tell. It’s not advised when the subject is your mother.
Anyway, Mom – Roye Langford – retired from the Regional Rehabilitation Center in Tupelo after 14 years of service. Working at Regional Rehab wasn’t her life work, but a slice of a work career that has been as interesting as anyone from the Mississippi Delta could ever imagine.
For most of her career, she worked as a secretary or office manager. She learned different skills along the way – including how to purchase pickups. Mom once managed truck purchasing for a firm that managed shopping malls around the country. She was quite knowledgeable about Ford F-150s.
However, her primary work was rearing my two sisters and me, mostly by herself, as Dad, a newspaperman, was often gone when meals needed to be prepared or homework needed to be checked or discipline needed to be administered.
As the result of Dad’s career, we moved a lot. Mom was the one getting us packed, loaded, moved, unloaded and enrolled. And then, she always restarted her career.
The most memorable of our moves was from Huntsville, Ala., to Miami, Fla. Dad had taken a job with United Press International and headed south weeks in advance. Mom left a job as secretary to the president of Brown Engineering, Milton K. Cummings. It was a nice job.
Cummings was a visionary leader who helped this nation put men on the moon. Look him up on Wikipedia and prepare to drop your jaw. Mom was in charge of keeping this man organized. I had no idea MY mom was even working for a company involved in space.
I was heading into the third grade when my mother hauled us – me; my sisters Kay and Pat; and a car-sick beagle, Hurricane – down the Florida Turnpike in a Volkswagen van that would fail to start after each stop. I can’t image loading up three small children and a hurling hound and driving 900 miles in a vehicle that didn’t exactly have the trip at heart.
Somehow, we survived this move and the others.
Her last move was from New York City when she moved to Tupelo to be near her grandchildren and contemplate retirement – that was about 15 years ago.
What she found was rewarding work at a facility that helps hundreds across Northeast Mississippi, and co-workers who were like family.
She’s finally gotten around to the retirement part of her last move. It was time.
Charlie Langford is the general manager of the Monroe Journal.