Cathy Lia was just an Oak Lawn teenager when she started taking Metra to her job in downtown Chicago in 1972.
The Orland Park resident stepped off a Metra train at the in for the last time last Wednesday.
She was greeted by her husband, three shouting daughters and a handful of other relatives with flowers and posters as she ended her 40-year career as a commuter.
Daughter Christine Pieper came in from Wayne, Ill., to greet her mom one last time, as did daughter Erin Johnson, who only had to come from Manhattan, Ill.
“This was my last ride,” she said after getting hugs all around by her loving family.
Lia is trading her job of 28 years at a Loop law firm for a position as baby sitter for her granddaughter and a few days a week with her husband, Thomas, at the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board in Orland Park.
“When I first started, I caught the train in Oak Lawn,” she said. “Monthly tickets were only $29 back then and Sears Tower wasn’t even built yet.”
Over the years, Lia has been a regular Metra passenger boarding at the Oak Lawn station, Oak Forest station and, most recently, at the 80th Avenue station.
“I took the train to 10 different locations,” she said, adding that most rides were uneventful, but not all.
“One time, we hit a garbage truck,” she said with a laugh. “Another time we hit a man on a bicycle. Today, the train had to stop so someone could be taken off for an ambulance.”
She resisted efforts to tear up her last multi-ride ticket.
“I’m giving it to my daughter Stephanie.”