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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

Retirement Begins!

Well, yesterday was quite the day! A fairly massive day for our family, actually! After a 40-year career as an elementary school teacher and administrator, "Mr. S" retired! Yep, yesterday was Dad's VERY LAST day of school!

Even though he begged and pleaded and downright DEMANDED that no celebrations be held in his honor, there were two low-key activities scheduled yesterday.

The first was a ceremonial tree planting at 10:15 AM. The entire grade school was paraded outside where a maple tree was waiting to be planted next to Mr. S's each-day-and-every-day parking spot. But, wait - there were two trees! ?? Because Mr. S wouldn't be able to see "his tree" (since he'd no longer be at school), a matching maple tree had been purchased for him to plant at home! (A very sweet idea!)

Anyway, Tom and I had shown up to the tree planting as a surprise (to Dad) alongside Mom. Before the principal made her introductory / congratulatory / retirement speech for Dad, she asked the kids, "Did you know that Mr. S has a MRS. S?!" Little heads rotated as one towards us, and the principal asked, "Mrs. S, would you please come up here to share this with your husband?"

Poor Mrs. S! ;)

Then, the principal continued, "Aaand, did you know that Mr. S is a FATHER?!" An immediate "YEEESSSS!" emanated from the crowd of little urchins at Tom's and my feet as all eyes swerved to us. "And, did you know that her husband is here, too?! Weslie and Tom, will you please come up?"

(No one was safe. Thank goodness I'd worn something decent!)

So, with Mom and Dad savoring their center-of-attention-ness (HA!), Tom took his usual (in these circumstances) wide-legged stance next to them, hands joined behind his back, black sunglasses permanently affixed to his bald head - looking for all the world like Mr. and Mrs. S's own personal Secret Service agent. I, meanwhile, managed to sneak away from the limelight so that I could document the day on film! (Thank goodness for excuses!)

It was really a beautiful, and fitting, ceremony. The weather was perfect, and the kids seemed genuinely tickled to be sharing the whole experience with Mr. S. The tree planting was well-organized, and before we knew it, the maple was in the ground with pink impatiens planted in a circle around it.

With the local newspaper's reporter / photographer documenting it all, Mr. S made his thank-you speech (short and sweet), we all clapped, and then - the neatest part, I thought - the kids absolutely swarmed him with hugs and handshakes (from the brave young men who were "too old" to hug anymore) and lots of love.

P.S. Speaking of "lots of love", the high school (HIGH SCHOOL, mind you, not elementary) yearbook was dedicated to Dad this year with a full-page photo spread and life/career chronology. We were trying to figure out last night if he's taught three generations or if it's just two . . . but, at any rate, every single one of the graduating seniors had gone through Mr. S's classroom at one point in their lives - whether they were lucky enough to have him as their homeroom teacher or "just" their science teacher.

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