As Carol Nash went about preparing for April 23 — the day she was retiring from Mayo Clinic — she wasn't expecting much fanfare. The world was in the midst of dealing with COVID-19, after all. Nash knew retirement parties were out of the question because of social distancing guidelines.
But her co-workers weren't about to let her leave Mayo Clinic after 40 years of service without some sort of celebration.
First, Brigid Amberg, nurse manager in the Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, organized a walk-by party where Nash's co-workers on the 19th floor of the Mayo Building commemorated her last day at Mayo in keeping with new social distancing guidelines.
"I was with that division all that time," Nash says. "The people you work with become your family. I can't speak enough about how wonderful they are."
Nash wrapped up her last day at Mayo and went home grateful for the quiet observance from her thoughtful colleagues.
Little did Nash know the celebration wasn't quite over yet.
Nash's friend Kathy Bainbridge, also a Mayo nurse, and Bainbridge's daughter, Emily Bainbridge, were plotting something a bit more elaborate. They had already contacted Nash's co-workers and neighbors, who in turn began to plan the rest of the celebration.
An avid dog walker, Nash says she should have been suspicious when her family ordered takeout food and delayed her from taking their dog Tomato on her usual 7 p.m. stroll through the neighborhood.
That's when the honking started.
A puzzled Nash stepped out into her front yard and saw signs that read, "Happy Retirement, Carol!" that her daughter, Tessa Nash, had ordered. Next came a caravan of cars, and it dawned on her that she was the unwitting grand marshal of her own retirement parade.
About 30 cars circled her cul-de-sac in southeast Rochester, with some drivers returning for a second lap. The parade, videotaped by Nash's son-in-law, lasted around 15 minutes.
"There were more people than we could ever have imagined come out on a gorgeous night," Amberg says.
Nash was touched that so many people, including co-workers who lived out of town in Kasson, Byron, St. Charles and Lewiston, had came back to Rochester to honor her.
"This was one of the biggest surprises of my life," Nash says. "To wish me a happy retirement in this strange COVID-19 environment — I'm just so humbled that they took the time to do this."
Nash says she'll never forget the kindness of her co-workers, friends and neighbors who found a way to celebrate while still complying with social-distancing restrictions.
"I'm still smiling and crying," she says.
Tags: Employee Stories