Retirement Day

Today’s a big day for my mom, Eileen Stagnaro. After decades – I won’t say how many or she’ll disown me – in the working world, she is bowing out and taking her retirement.

For the last 11+ years, my mother has been a fixture at Chenango Memorial Hospital. As the hospital’s patient financial advocate, she has helped countless people navigate the complexities of medical bills and insurance, setting up payment plans, etc. In doing so, she has touched many lives.

I know this, not because of anything she’s told me, but what her coworkers and the patients themselves say about her. I’ve also seen it first hand.

We joke about my pseudo-celebrity status, but when I’m around town with my mother, she’s the one who draws attention. She practically holds court when we go to the grocery store – kissing babies and the whole nine yards.

I’ve been approached by more people than I can count whose first question is, “Is your mother Eileen?” There is always a sense of reverence in their voice, and it makes me smile. To know my mom is to love her. She’s always been an inspiration to me. And to see what an impact she’s made (in a job which many would consider thankless) makes me incredibly proud to be her daughter.

For her, the decision to retire wasn’t an easy one. But after a lot of soul searching, she decided it was the right one. It’s bittersweet, really. For as much as she’s looking forward to having more freedom to travel, visit family, etc., she’s going to miss her work at the hospital and the people and patients she worked with every day.

I have been (repeatedly) warned about revealing my mother’s age, so I’ll refrain. Suffice it to say she’s past the generally accepted retirement age.

In fact, this isn’t the first time she’s retired. She tried the whole retirement gig once before – briefly – before joining CMH.

See she worked for Chenango Mutual Insurance Company for 13 years, before it was bought out by North Country Insurance. When they consolidated their offices to Watertown, she retired. For roughly five weeks.

She made use of that time by baking enough apple pies to feed an army. Then, fearing for her waistline and the fate of her already 40+ year marriage to my father, she headed back to work.

This time, though, I think she’s ready to make it stick.

I personally plan to do everything I can to help her make the transition. Like encouraging her to bake apple pies whenever her little heart desires ...

Love you, Mom. Happy Retirement Day!

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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