Friday, June 24, 2016

Dad's Retirement Surprise: Part 1

A few months ago, my brother started getting all these crazy ideas about things we should do to celebrate my Dad's retirement. When he retired from active duty in 1997, we didn't do it right. We were all so young that we didn't realize the importance of his retirement. This time, though, this time we did it right in so many ways! My brother did most of the impossible stuff, my sister and I just kept it all a secret. My dad can't stand not being in on something, so he needled us all for weeks. As it turns out, we're all really good liars. My mom is not. She can't even fib.

Surprise number one was the arrival of my dad's siblings. They didn't all make it down from Michigan, but a good number was here representing. Three of his five siblings, their spouses, and my aunt from my mom's side all came down. My cousin and her husband and my sister and fam all came up from Florida. We had a BBQ in my sister's back yard. We were so crazy busy setting up that I didn't bother to drag out my real camera and the few pictures I got with my phone aren't altogether lovely, but...people asked me to share.
My dad with his sister, my Aunt Lorie.

My dad with Aunt Mary Jo.
That's my Uncle Louie and cousin Michelle. 
Sean with my Aunt Lorie and Uncle Ken.

(L to R): Uncle Mick-my dad's younger brother, Aunt Mary Jo-his wife. Uncle Lou, my dad's youngest brother. My dad is the second of six kids. My mom.
My cousin, Michelle(expecting her first baby!!!!!) and her very-chill husband, Mike. 
Given the hand motions, I'd guess they're talking about airplanes. 
The surprises came in waves. This one was pretty awesome. My brother contacted my dad's BFF from the Academy and had him come to be the speaker at my dad's ceremony. They haven't seen each other in twenty years or more. Fun fact: he is who my brother is named after. 

He and my dad were stationed a couple of places together and we all have memories of him and his family. It's the craziest thing about this Air Force life. The comings and goings of life long friends and the ability to pick right up where you left off. 

He brought his daughter, Kym, along and it was awesome to reacquaint with her. I think the last time we saw each other is when we were five or six, maybe? It was basically like meeting a new friend and she just happens to be a photographer. It was awesome to talk shop!! Her husband just joined the Air Force, so I am crossing my fingers and toes that he'll be stationed at Langley. 

Michelle, I still can't believe you're going to have a baby. We really didn't think you'd ever had a kid. And now that you are...the whole family is shaking our heads/weepy with excitement. Seriously, I can not WAIT to meet that kid and watch you and Mike grow into your new roles. Greatest thing ever.  
My shy Aunt Lorie. 
My favorite picture EVER of the three of us. Color coordinated and everything!
I'm not sure what kind of BS my dad was peddling here, but the crowd looks mighty skeptical...
Aunt Lorie being a wall flower again. 
No pun intended. 
After stuffing our faces, we all moved inside for the movie I linked in the previous blog post. 
The video sounded way different on the big screen than it did on my computer, but it was a hit. Everybody laughed and cried in all the right places.
At some point in the evening, the guitar came out. My mom, uncle, and Simon played. 

I hope somebody got better pictures of this group. Crappy cell phone pictures and all, it gave me pause to see four of the six here like this. I imagine my own kids, a few decades down the road, and wonder how their lives will intertwine. It was so neat to see my dad in the role of brother. Their history and inside jokes and similarities and differences and how they all weave together to make them who they are as individuals and as a's fascinating. 

My brave mama, playing for the crowd. 
Uncle Louie
My mom

That was just the beginning. My dad had no clue what else was in store for him. It's SO MUCH that I have to break these posts up just to process it all myself. :) Stay tuned...

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