The Urn

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Chapter 12

May, 1990

After two weeks of debate with himself and discussion with Kathryn Moore, his best friend and close confidant, Orville made his decision. He had still been going into work as usual, trying to behave as if all was still the same. As far as he could tell, no one had any idea what was percolating just beneath the surface for him, and true to their word, neither Thomas nor Loraine had said a word, apparently. Frederick and Janice had sent him a few random ideas that had come across various professional journals and other publications, but Orville had managed to hold them off from another round of going after any of them, saying he was still evaluating them all.

They seemed satisfied that he seemed to be taking his time scrutinizing all the options, and they as well as Orville and everyone else at RMD, were still basking in the glow and celebration of their latest venture. The board actually seemed to have joined in as well, something Orville had seen only glimpses of in the past. With all the cash flowing into their coffers now, it would have been hard for them to do much complaining about anything these days, he thought. There was still a bit of polishing and adjustment and tweaking of the new application, but Orville had turned Thomas and Loraine loose on this, knowing they were fully capable. Also, he knew that now he had made the decision to walk away, that it would be a good transition.

With Thomas and Loraine at the development helm in the wake of his retirement, having them appear fully in control of the latest release would hardly cause a ripple in the group’s efforts going ahead. Even though he knew this was the best for him regarding his health and that he now had a chance to really enjoy all the fruits of his many years of dedication and sacrifice for RMD, Orville was still feeling a bit regretful and maybe even second guessing himself as he walked down to see Frederick.

He knocked lightly at his door and Frederick motioned for him to come in when he saw Orville standing in the open doorway.

“Come on in, Orville….still basking in your latest success?”

“I guess. I need to talk to you and Janice, though, Is she around?”

Frederick hesitated, curious as to the gravitas in Orville’s tone, wondering if maybe his health had declined again.

“Sure…I’ll call her to join us. You feeling OK?”

“Oh, I’m fine…just need to talk to you both before I head out today.”

Frederick dialed Janice up and she appeared in just a few seconds. Orville shut the door to Frederick’s office and sat in a chair next to Janice and sighed.

“You OK, Orville?” Janice asked, a look of true concern coming over her face when he shut the door. “Problem in the lab?”

“I’m fine…the lab’s fine, too…just need to talk to you guys in private for a few minutes.”

With a speech he had been practicing for the last week or so, Orville explained to them how he felt both for his own health and that the time had come to pursue other things in his life, that he was announcing his retirement from RMD. They sat, jaws agape, as Orville went through his concerns that the stress at RMD had most likely brought on his TIA and that even with that aside, it was just time to step aside and let the younger, eager members of the team have the reins. He told them of his desire to have both Thomas and Loraine share as co-directors of the group based on their experience and that they meshed well as a unit.

“They are more than capable of taking you to the next, level, guys. Their technical knowledge and expertise far exceeds where I was at their age, and from what I have seen they will be superb at managing projects and the team. And you know as well as me that there is no question as to their dedication and fervor for RMD….just think back to all they have put in that was above and beyond the call recently.”

“Wow…” Frederick finally replied when he saw Orville had finished, “this is quite a shock.”

“For me too, Orville,” Janice added.

“I know it must seem rash and sudden, but this has been on my mind ever since I got out of St. Anne’s after the TIA.”

“Can we offer you anything to change your mind?” Frederick asked. “Would more money or maybe cutting back to part-time make a difference?”

Orville just shook his head.

“No…it is just time. My time here at RMD has been an honor and the experience of a lifetime. When Charley Burrows recruited me out of Ohio State, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined all that has happened. And I could not have done any of it without your support and belief in me. I just wanted to tell you face to face before anything official.”

“OK, Orville…fair enough and thanks.” Frederick replied solemnly.

“You have an exit date in mind?” Janice asked as she felt a sudden lump in her throat at the realization of what was happening.

“End of the month if that is OK? I would like to talk to my team first. Can I tell Thomas and Loraine they are now in charge?”

“I don’t see why not….Janice?”

“Sure…I guess we could have looked externally for a new team leader, but everything you have said about them makes sense. And they know our system and the staff. It’s a win-win for RMD.”

“Thanks. I’ll meet with everyone first thing in the morning and then you guys can handle the announcement as you see fit.”

Frederick and Janice stood and hugged him warmly. Orville could not help but see her wipe away a single tear from her cheek.

“It won’t be the same here without you, Orville,” Frederick said.

“Nor should it be. Times are changing and new ideas and fresh blood is the best for RMD to continue moving ahead. I’ll still be around in Laconia most days, I guess, if you should need a consult or something. I do not want anything regular, but I would also not be adverse to an occasional inquiry if you need it.”

They watched from Frederick’s door as Orville went down the hall and then out to his car.


The development team’s reaction to his announcement was as emotional and surprising as it had been to Frederick and Janice. Thomas and Loraine played along so as not to betray the confidence Orville had placed in them, acting as taken aback as any of the team. Once the get together was over, Orville sat with the new team directors to let them know Frederick and Janice had both approved their new promotions and positions at RMD without hesitation.

“You really think we are ready, boss?” Thomas asked.

“No doubt. And get ready to have those guys out there call you that soon.”

All three of them laughed.

“So, just a couple more weeks?” Loraine asked.

“Yep. I think most of what is going on is already well under your belts, but I will brief you on some ideas for possible new things that Frederick and Janice have been considering. I’ll forward you both copies of the papers late today.”

“What are your plans, boss?” Thomas inquired.

Orville shrugged.

“You know…I am not quite sure. After that trip to Latin America I guess some travel, but for the immediate future, I guess just trying to adjust to not coming in here everyday while establishing a new routine for myself.”

They sat and laughed and reminisced a while longer about past projects…the successes and the failures, and what a ride it had been for them all. Once Thomas and Loraine went back to the lab, Orville just sat and looked out through the large glass window between his office and the lab and smiled. Yes it had been an adventure for him….quite a ride indeed…

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