You might already know that Sarah and I took a mostly spontaneous day trip to Baltimore on Wednesday to go to my dad's retirement party. I had gone back and forth between not going - going - not going - to finally going (in secret). After deciding not to go for the second time I was pretty bummed out, but I'd resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't happening, so I was moving on. The very next morning I got to work, opened Outlook, and found an email from my loving husband with a plane ticket, rental car, and parking reservation. I guess he figured out from my mopey demeanor how much I really wanted to be there for my dad. (He gets a serious gold star for that one.)
On Wednesday morning, Sarah and I got up (before the roosters) and departed for the Atlanta airport (in the rain). We must be doing something right with her. Sometimes we joke and call her the "well adjusted third child". She was amazing on the trip. She's just such a cheerful, easy-going little girl. Sparing you the boring trip-up details, I called my mom from the rental car facility in Baltimore and the conversation went like this:
Me: What time are you leaving for the party?
Mom: I'm going to Julie's house so we can drive up together in about 15 minutes.
Me: I don't suppose you'd want to wait for me?
Mom: Are you going to the party? Are you here?
Mom: Where are you?
Me: I just left the airport. I'm on my way to your house.
Long story short, she did not see that coming. I think she was secretly relieved to skip out on the jaunt up to Julie's house because it bought her a little extra time to get ready. Sarah woke up from her first 20 minute nap of the day when we got to my mom's house. She so excited to see Sarah she sat in the back to "keep her company". Sarah wasn't so sure about waking up in a strange back seat with a strange curler-haired woman smiling at her from inches away from her face. A few cheerios later, they were best friends.
For the next 30 minutes or so, we drove northeast towards the party and my dad's work. There's a long history involving the property that now serves as the Perry Point VA Medical Center, and my dad, being the history buff, has even been interviewed about it on public television. Originally the land served as a Grist Mill, nestled right on the bank of the Susquehanna River. The view is amazing from pretty much anywhere on the property. My dad liked working there because it was a much easier drive than going the other direction (towards Baltimore), but the setting itself has its own appeal. The owner of the Grist Mill built the Mansion House in 1750, which served as the location for my dad's retirement party.
We got there in plenty of time, and arrived around the same time as Julie and her younglings. The people poured in. I'm not sure what the tally was, but I would bet there were at least fifty people there to bid their farewells, and most of them told the tale of someone else who wanted to be there but couldn't for one reason or another. When he pulled up to the front door, we were herded to our positions. The family was supposed to greet him at the door so he would be surprised the minute he walked in. So there we were. Stage Right: My mom, Julie, the nephews Justin & Jared, and Sarah & me.
(I suppose it's not worth mentioning, but Sarah had very little interest in surprising my dad and was all about ripping the "Coat Closet" sign off of the closet door under the stairs while we waited.)
I could write lots and lots and lots about this day, but I think it would be best summed up by this picture:
He was surprised, yes. He was happy, yes. More than anything though, he's just ready to get the heck out of there. And I am so thrilled for him. I think he will look like this next Thursday when he turns his keys in too.
The party proceeded with person after person telling my dad how great it was to work for him, how much he will be missed, how knowledgeable and humble he is, and you know what? I believe every one of them.
In true Jennie fashion I've allowed this to get to unreadable lengths already, so I will sum up the rest of the day with a few captioned photos.
This is where we tried to get all of the family present together for a photo. Six out of eight isn't bad. Jonathan was off tending to Justin. My favorite part is how Sarah and Jared are giving each other the once-over.
This is one of many times when Sarah tackled Jared who is four months her senior and at least five pounds bigger than her. She's a little, um, aggressive. (As Justin supervised and told her she wasn't nice.)
This is where everyone chanted "Speech!" and then regretted it because he brought tears to everyone's eyes (as evidenced by the two men in the background). Julie hates to see our dad cry and not-so-quietly said, "Oh no" in anticipation of tears multiple times throughout the speech. His reasons for being sad about leaving? "Umm, the drive was pretty easy." Hahahaha.
This is where Justin was completely unimpressed with his powdered donut. (I laugh out loud every time I look at this one.)
This is my beautiful travel companion. She was awesome all day long. I am so proud of her. (Can you be proud of babies? I am.)
I know it's Friday afternoon so I'll wrap it up. I hope you all have a great weekend. And I hope this gives you hope...you know...because retirement is possible.