Homeward Angel

When Sweety and I returned home the night of my retirement party, April 20, 2017, I was filled up to overflowing with gratitude for the loving sendoff my administrative staff had arranged for us, and the way everyone there made me feel special. An older brother and his partner had come to pick us up from home, and we visited a while before going to the King’s Head Pub in the Exchange District of Winnipeg, Canada for the do. When they drove us home after the party, they came in for a nightcap.

Photo of a woman and man seated, ready to go to a party.
Sweety and me, at home before the big shindig, April 20, 2017. Photo by Mark West.

Arriving at the start of the event, I remember excitedly walking up the pub steps then the introvert in me realized with a touch of horror, halfway up, that I was going to have to talk with all these people! I soon relaxed and realized I’d get to speak with them all. And I’m pretty sure I did talk with almost everyone.

It was the best retirement party I ever have been to, and not just because it was mine. So much thought was given to it, and the speeches by friends — my one-year-retired boss, my boss, and a former colleague — were fantastic. There was also a lovely letter from my out-of-town brother and sister-in-law, and a letter of congratulations from the mayor, and most of my family, friends and co-workers were there, too. I felt genuinely celebrated.

The party was held soon after we returned from three weeks in England and Wales, and just two months after my mum died, all while I was in the throes of wrapping up my career and helping transition a massive department into a new structure and new leadership model. I sometimes wish I’d been more present to think of all the folks to invite; the fog of grief can be quite something to cut through.

After the party, when the tie and jacket were off at home and we’d talked all about the fabulous night, Sweety went up to bed, and I lingered in the darkened main floor to savour the feelings of the evening a little more; of course, accompanied by music. Today’s selection came on, and it seemed like a kind of closing credits music for my career. Working in government can be a truly thankless occupation, and over my time in the public service, I witnessed a shocking decline in the level of civility with which public workers were treated.

Listening to “Homeward Angel” that night, I felt I was shedding all the protective layers one needs to survive in such an environment, leaving me feeling warm in a cloak of peace and gratitude. It was the most relaxed I’d felt in 14 years. I haven’t taken that garment off since. 

The piece is from Moby’s two-CD set, Hotel. It came on random play in the car when we drove to Canadian Tire this afternoon. I’d been there earlier this morning to do a curbside pickup, and saw that they had beautiful hanging floral baskets for CAD 9.99. There wasn’t a soul in the store at 8:00 am, so I went in and got two. When I brought them home to Sweety, she was so excited that I asked if she wanted to get masked up and go there. We did, and got another 11.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the music and if you get a similar sense of settling calm that I had from it as an introduction to life after all-consuming work.

Here’s the audio (short version, 5:51) from Moby’s official YouTube channel:

And if you feel like more of that, here’s the extended version (10:58) I listened to that night:

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