We all have a hero. Someone who shapes our thinking, our opinions, and how we handle situation. I have a hero. Lucky for me I lived with my hero for almost 20 years. She’s my mom.
No one on earth could ever compare to Vicky Countryman in my eyes from the time I was old enough to hero worship. As I get older and as she gets older, I realize just how amazing she really is. Watching her go to work with her chemo in her purse and it still plugged into her port or last year going to work in Nike’s because she has 4 plates in her leg from a roller skating accident was pretty darn inspiring. She has strength I wish I had. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Friday night my hero retired. She had worked at the same place since the day after her high school graduation. Forty four years later she retired as AVP of compliance for one of the largest credit unions in my state. Pretty good career if you ask me. I decided to go to her good bye at work (in typical Vicky fashion she refused a party because thought the attention was silly). I’m so glad I went because once again she inspired me.
You hear often of parents feeling pride when they hear compliments about their kids, I felt this pride for my parent. As her boss and she talked about their career together my mom became my hero again. Here’s why:
1. She started by saying how proud she was of everyone in the room. She spoke of the people sitting there and told them why she was proud of them. Talked about their growth personally and in the company. Most people don’t focus on others during a time like this.
2. She said she was asked for advice from a coworker and her advice was this “laugh it off, don’t take this place so seriously.” I love this. We all need to do this more. I am a big believer in laughing at what life gives you. You have to.
3. She ended with this, “everyday I leave here, the first thing I ask myself is ‘who did I help today?’ I’m back office staff, my job is to support those who are working with the public and are on the front lines of our company. If I’m not supporting them, I’m not doing my job. Now let’s eat cake.”
That last statement really hit me hard. As an instructional tech coach, I’m back office, my job is exactly what my mom’s was, to support those on the front lines. Those in the classrooms, in the schools, who are working with our students. Teachers need support everyday. I know what it like being in a classroom, I hope I never forget what they deal with every day. I don’t want to go into my schools and throw them a bunch of information and put unrealistic expectations on them. I also don’t want to walk out of a building without every teacher knowing that I’m there for them. First thing I do is give them my email. While I can’t be in the classroom of all 10,000 teachers in my district I can make sure when they reach out to me through email I can help them as quickly as possible. I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in emails and friends tell me so many times that I don’t have to answer all 40 something I get a day, if it is from a teacher, yes I do. That’s my job. That’s what I want to do, not push them off on someone else, help them the best I can. I’m not there yet, I have a lot of improvement before I am as helpful as she was. I need to judge less and ask what I can do to help more. I want to be that support system and over time I hope I will be.
Will I ever help as many people as my mom? Probably not. I don’t expect to. As she and I walked out of her office one last time, she said talked about how hard that ‘non party’ was. She said it was weird bc most people get cake everyone says bye and they leave and she couldn’t figure out why everyone kept sticking around talking to her and giving her the most thoughtful gifts. I probably looked at her like she grew another head. She didn’t get it. She reached her goal. She helped everyone. She was their support. I’m pretty lucky to have a hero like her, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from her for 33 years now and can’t wait to learn from her 33 more.