This weekend my 78 year old Father will Officially Retire. He started life as a "paid killer." i.e. the Army. He loves telling people that.
8 years and 3 kids later, he and my mom moved to CT where my brother and I joined the family (I believe the teasing goes "He was a mistake and I was an accident...") and where I was raised. 21 years, 1 house for me. In my lifetime, Dad sold real estate. He and mom had a real estate/insurance business most of my growing up years. About 10 years ago (?), mom retired, and Dad closed his office to go work "part time" with someone else.
Finally we have been able to convince the man of Boundless Energy that perhaps he should get off the schedule and live life with mom. Enjoy their Maine house. Visit grandkids. Go on trips. Hang Up The Phone! And finally, he will.
My mom and dad busted their butts raising 5 kids through all kinds of "economies." I remember when the prime rate hit 18+ % and NO ONE was buying or selling houses. Yet my parents never let me feel insecure or worried. Frugal? Yes. But somehow they always provided. (By working their butts off, this I now know but couldn't appreciate when I was 10 or 12).
Dad's job allowed him the freedom to participate in my life - for example, to take me to the hospital when a field hockey stick rearranged my nose during the last 20 seconds of my game sophmore year. He was always on the sidelines, cheering me on. Always there with a car ride or the gas card or a trip to McDonald's or the keys to his office to "make copies."
I vaguely recall conversations between Mom and Dad about franchising or "moving up" or "expanding." In the end, Dad kept his name on the door - eventually adding Mom's and the "insurance" part. (actually they dropped his first name and just used their last name). But dad's name has always been well known around town and around the state as The Guy in Real Estate. He was honest to a fault, never compromised his ethics or his clients or his profession, no matter what the "opportunity" or how difficult the times. This was one thing mom was sure to point out to us kids as we were growing up. We never questioned Dad or his ethics or his business practices. We knew if Dad said it or did it, it was honest and by the book. Lesser men may have made more money, but no one slept as well at night as My Dad or could look his kids in the eyes any straighter.
When I think of Dad and his Career, somehow I think of my high school and college years most, days when he would pop in, whether at home after school (kept me and the boyfriend honest....) or at college to take me to lunch now and then, despite his hard work, he was always "there." Looking back I see the gift that truly was. And I am proud of the man he is and always has been.
So this weekend all 5 of his kids and their Significant Others (yep insert Captain here ____) will be on hand to congratulate Dad for a life of excellence and a Job Well Done.
Enjoy your retirement Dad - you've eaaarned it.