Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Party Day, Phase 1

My Dad has worked at the same place for 35 years. 
Can you believe that?!  Who does that anymore?
Very very few. 
Yesterday, they for his 35 years of Service at St. Francis as he approaches his retirement at the beginning of April.  He only has a couple more weeks.  After 35 years!  What a countdown.  He told me a couple weeks ago about this wingding they were having at work from 2-4 on Friday the 21st  to celebrate his retirement, and he mentioned, oh, you don't need to come, I know it's in the middle of the day, with naptime, and kids in school, I completely understand that you can't make it.  And don't worry, he said, I know Sam's party is that night, so we'll just see you then.  

And yet, I wanted to go.  I wanted to go see these people send Daddy off with style, and show their appreciation for all he's done for them in the last 35 years.  He has seen this Hospital for so many changes, it's amazing.  I was in preschool when he started working at St. Francis.  Actually, I started at the St. Francis Hospital Day Care Center for my preschool and kindergarten shortly after he started. ;)  I remember being taught his work phone number in a nifty little rhyme, 783-83-12 Dad! (and you have you say Dad! with Jazz Hands).  He was their Director of Public Relations.  I knew how to say that long before I had any idea what it actually meant.  As he retires, his official title is Director of Strategic Planning and Marketing.  They've been using his mad skills for years, I wonder what this hospital is going to do without him.  

Anyway, I wanted to go.  And so did my sister.  Only Lisa broke her toe on Thursday evening, and couldn't walk, let alone Drive down to the south side.  So Eric saved the day, and cut his day short, so he could help with party prep, and greet the boys home from school, so that Lisa and I could make an appearance at Dad's wingding.  Jake and I drove up and grabbed Lisa and the girls before heading south.  But I'd never been to this hospital, and I had no idea where we were going.  And it's Huge. 
We parked on the wrong side, but I had the wherewithal to drop Li off at the entrance, so she could get in a wheelchair, and I put Jake in his backpack.  The girls rode on her lap as the volunteer walked us through the maze that is that hospital to find the party.  As you can imagine, we were late.  
When we walked in, there were probably a hundred people sitting down listening to some gentleman I don't know speak. It was like he was Introducing Dad.  I don't know who he was, Dad's boss probably.  But everyone was paying attention to him, and when we walked in...well, we created quite a stir.  He stopped talking.  And here we were, a couple harrowed moms, one in a wheelchair, and 3 small children.  Well, Daddy, piped right in, "And these are my daughters and grandchildren!"  Everyone turned to look at us.  We must have been quite a sight! The girls took off of Lisa's lap, and went dashing to Daddy, to spin around and show everyone how adorable they were in the dirndls that Opa got them from Germany.  Lucky for us they were so adorable, that they distracted from the scene of our entrance.

The girls stole the show, temporarily, with their spinning and sweetness. 

Daddy was presented with the "Heavy Hitter Award", a Louisville Slugger bat signed with love from his coworkers.  The Presentation was so sweet, that Lisa and I started getting teary. They even gave MB this humongous bouquet of roses which smelled wonderful!

Daddy and MB at the retirement. 
This photo makes me mad, I wish I'd brought my real camera, with everything else, I only had my point and shoot, and apparently it failed and made blurry pictures of Daddy and the presentations.  Grr.  I'm not happy with the quality of the photos. 

Still, the hospital put on quite a spread.  It was clear that he was greatly appreciated. A few of his longtime coworkers stood up to say how much they'd miss him.  One of the nuns stood up to say how much he had been appreciated, and Lisa and I started tearing up before she even uttered a word.  We're a bunch of marshmallows!  It was clear that he was valued here, and that he will be so missed.  And that did my heart so much good.  He has put so much of himself, his time, his heart, in this work, I'm so glad that they see, understand, and appreciate all of it. I'm not nearly as good with names as my father, so when people came up who hadn't seen me in 30 years and still remembered me, I felt bad.  One former secretary came over to me, and when she introduced herself, I remembered her!  I said, I remembered you being taller.  We laughed, because of course, she would have been taller, when I was 10. ;) 

We camped out at a table with the kids, bribing them with snacks, who all in all, really behaved quite remarkably.  And we found Daddy and MBs best friends, Dan and Kay, who we've called Danny Kaye for years. Even Jake behaved.  He even tolerated sitting on Lisa's lap for a while, while I rustled up some grub for the girls, but that's because she gave him treats, like broccoli, carrots, and cantelope. 

See?!  Jacob gets a carrot from Aunt Lisa.  He even kind of nibbled it, well, stuck it in his mouth anyway. 

Charlie being sweet.

Annie takes her shrimp tails and made fingernails out of them.  
All by herself.  She'd not been shown this particular trick, this was all natural skills.  

Annie had made Opa a very special card, and drawn him a picture, for his "Party Day".  Obviously, they wouldn't understand Retirement, or a retirement party.  But they understood Party.  And they knew he was celebrating something, and we were all happy to be there celebrating with him.  He was touched we were able to make it.  Sometimes, I think it's lucky that we have the kids with us all the time, they provide such a great distraction, that no one gets sappy too long, and bursts into tears.  Just a few leaky tears, and we move on, the kids always keeping us moving.  The whole afternoon was like that.  There were a couple tears, a little mush, but no one got too teary, the kids were too sweet and distracting to let that happen.  

The girls were enchanting! 

No wonder they stole the show. As the party came to a close, the girls and I took a shuttle bus to go back to the car.  See?!  That's how I know it's time for Dad to retire, the hospital has gotten so big, you have to take a Shuttle Bus to the car!  It was their first shuttle ride, and they were so excited, and had a great time.  Charlie felt like such a big girl, she'd not been on any kind of bus at all.   They thanked the busdriver profusely for such a wonderful ride.  We drove round to pick up Lisa, and Daddy and MB sent us home with 'just a few' of the leftovers: entire fruit, veggie, and cheese and cracker trays.  Like I said, it was a nice spread.  Although I must say, I've always loved St. Francis' food.  We grew up on their cafeteria food.  What are we going to do now that Daddy is retiring?  Well, spend more time with Opa!  Although he's not fully retiring, he'll still be teaching adjunct MBA/PR/Marketing type classes at various universities around town, but he's only been doing that or the last 25 years or so. ;)   That's a bargain in comparison!

Lisa and I commented on the way home, that we were exhausted, even though all we'd done was Drive, it was an emotional day, we were so touched, and there was lots of joy and sadness at the same time.  But there was no time for resting, we still had miles to go before we sleep.