The Third Third

Good Job, Dad!

Last year about this time, my grown children elicited a promise from me that I would never again post any writings about them without their permission.  The word in play at the time was “betrayal,” and they were right. 

I’ve kept my word (sort of like Mary, you know, who kept all these things hidden in her heart), but I am about to break my promise now.  I am quite sure, however, that this time the kids won’t mind. 

I want to tell you about the loveliest thing I have ever known children to do for their parents:  Last week, between Christmas and a niece’s wedding New Year’s Eve, our four children and two in-laws staged a Retirement Party for their father, the sole purpose of which was to thank him for all that his work – 38 years of lawyering -- had enabled them to do and be.  They surprised him with champagne and a luncheon at a great Italian restaurant.  They gave me flowers – gorgeous flowers – for my supporting role making all the meals and driving all the carpools.  They wrote him letters of remembrance and gratitude – telling him how much fun it was to go to the office with him when they were little (the office supply closet was, universally, the high point), and how important they thought he was at work, and how committed they knew he was to his profession, and how hard they knew he worked.

They gave him his own cache of office supplies for retirement, a set of new T-shirts, one for each of the schools, colleges, and graduate and professional programs they attended, and a subscription to National Geographic Travel to encourage new adventures. They thanked him for vacations and study abroad, even for piano lessons and soccer cleats and camp.  They acknowledged the costs to his personal and family and social life, but with respect, sometimes bordering on awe, for his choices and responsibilities.  They forced him to confront the obvious emotional upheaval involved in retiring from the only adult life he has ever known, but surrounded him with the support of their deep, radical love and appreciation.  They honored him and his work  – and the partnership our marriage has been – as no one else ever has, as only those people most important to him in all the world could.  It was a stunning gift of love and affirmation. 

It was a most special moment.  I am delighted to share it with you.  But I will also hold it close to my heart forever.

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