Last night we attended a small retirement party given for him by some of his coworkers. He has been in the MD school system for 37 years as a middle-school teacher and principal and recently as a pupil personnel worker. For a few minutes last night, I followed my sister-in-law, Deb, around as she tried to "dig up the dirt" on Dad's school life. It was all in fun, mind you. You know what? Nobody had anything bad to say about Dad! Granted, it was his party and we wouldn't expect any downers in the crowd. However, not only was there nothing bad to say, but there were consistently positive comments. "When I got married last fall, Bob made a big sign for my office door when I returned." "Bob never had a bad day - he is always so happy and encouraging." "Bob leaves me notes about what a good job I did when I had to complete a new task."
What is so cool about all of those comments is that I was not surprised by anything anyone had to say about Dad. Whether it was about his happy and optimistic demeanor or whether it was about him making someone's day by encouraging them to step up to a new level of success or whether it was about his team-building skills through water-gun battle, I was not surprised. I can imagine my dad doing all of those things for all of those people and hundreds more who weren't present. This is because that is who my dad is. He is optimistic and encouraging in his core - it's who he is with his coworkers and it's who he is with his family.
My dad is outnumbered in our family - although he shares in the 4:1 ratio of college math majors, he is on the low end of the ratio when it comes to "People persons" vs. "Task persons." I'm not a people person, so to hear how great of one he is from people who are with him every day at work, was a really neat experience. I know that he's supportive of his family - he makes up games for us to play when we get together, he calls me at work a couple of times a year just to say "Hi," he always asks how our lives are going (and he really wants to know), etc. But to be convinced that he is a light not only to his family members but also to everyone whose life he touches is a really cool thing.
Yeah... I'm so proud of my dad.