And Then I Blinked

This blog entry will need an intro.  I wrote this piece on the occasion of my daughter Bailey’s marriage to her fiancee, John on July 17th, 2011.  My goal was twofold.  I wanted to have a chance to recollect some of my favorite memories all the while impressing on Bailey and John as well as their guests just how fast life can move.  I wanted to impart on them that it was important not only to make the memories, but to remember them and to retell them on those special occasions life offers.

Bailey and John promised me a chance to tell a story, provided I kept it to 5 minutes.  But there are too many to tell.  Better time me.  With a slight apology to Kenny Chesney, here goes.


It is April 21, 1984 and I am standing in the delivery room holding my baby girl.  22 hours of labor, and a C section to boot……… you were already stubborn then.  But what is her name I am asked…….”Bailey”. I respond with unimaginable pride.


And then I blinked….


I am standing along side my brother in his wedding party looking for you and mom in the front pew.  Seems you decided to make a bigger scene than the wedding and mom in her “patient” manner made you walk the 2 miles back to the farm…. before the wedding even begins.  A little of that stubborn streak again?  Oh by the way, you were far more elegant today babe.


And then I blinked….


You are suddenly 3 and I am ransacking the sitter’s house looking for your other shoe.  Seems I have fallen victim to the “hide the shoe” delay tactic.  I think this is when you started mentioning going to Shopko to get a new dad.  What aisle is that in and was I a blue light special?


And then I blinked …


I think you are 5 now and we are sitting on the couch together.  Mom needs you to say you’re sorry but you don’t think so.  Bernstein Bears to the rescue.  And it works… too well… from this point forward “sorry” is the easiest word in your vocabulary.  It will even get you in trouble later in High School.  Laps I think, for the whole team I believe!  There’s no sorry in softball.  But that’s another story.





And then I blinked …


When did you become this young lady?  You are ready for high school but not before you travel to Washington DC.  Even I hadn’t been there, but I felt like I had when I listened to your stories of the adventure.  That will become a theme with you.  Everything becomes an adventure.  Sure hope John is adventuresome.


And then I blinked …


You are in high school now and two sports have spurred your interest, Softball and Golf.  In softball you want maximum involvement so let’s be the pitcher, and golf….Really?   Can you pick more stressful sports for us to watch?  I had to spend your first golf season sneaking around the course so you wouldn’t see me.  By the second season we had developed our very own sign language.  And Softball, Just throw strikes, for God sake just throw strikes!


And then I blinked …


You’re in college now, about to realize your ultimate goal.  Hi dad, remember that goal of getting to ride the Zamboni, guess I’ll drive it instead.  You got to actually make the ice for the Badger practices at the Shell.  Badger hockey games would never be the same.  Now we evaluate the Zamboni driver’s skills during the intermissions.


And then I blinked…


You’ve graduated from college and you just finished your first interview.  How did the interview go? I think pretty well dad…. They gave me the job.  And another teacher is added to our family.  Good choice of subject by the way!  You had never wavered.  You told us in first grade you would be a teacher and now Verona just made it real.


And then I blinked…


And then there was John.  We’re at the Packer game and I am fired up for the game to begin, but who’s this guy that’s come down to our seats for a “visit”?  I’ve met several would be boy friends but there is something different this time.  I’ll need to keep an eye on this one.


And then I blinked…


And it was today and your arm is in mine and we are standing at the doorway to the rest of your life.  And you are beautiful and you are ready.  And I am incredibly proud to be your father.  I place your hand in John’s and I pray and I know that it is right.


John, I entrust you with my daughter, she is my heart, full of all the love and pride a father can have.  She comes with no instruction manual.  It is for you to figure it out, but feel free to ask for advice now and then. Take care of her heart and take care of each other.


In the words of one of my favorite singers “Live, Laugh and Love”  Always Together.  Just don’t blink.


Please raise your glasses in a toast to my daughter and my new son. 


May the love that has brought you together and the marriage that makes you whole, sustain you all the days of your life.  Cheers.

Retirement..What’s a guy going to do?

After a lot of discussion and long consideration, I decided I was ready to retire.  I know how much I will miss many of the people I have shared office space with and I certainly will miss my clients and the opportunities they have given me to solve their problems and to be part of the planning for their future and often their retirements.  But the time had come and I knew that if I could take a year to say goodbye, I could move on.

It seems that once you announce your retirement you get one of two reactions.  The first comes from those who have gone before.  They tell you how great it will be and how you never realized how many things you never had time for.  The second group wants to know what you will do.  They are fearful, I suspect, that I won’t feel fulfilled.  I found myself detailing out my retirement and wondering if I was just making this stuff up to appease them.

I have decided to take a different tack.  With apologies to the writers of Sleepless in Seattle, here is how I am going to start answering their question.  I’m gonna get out of bed every morning….breathe in and out all day long.  Then after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out….and, then after a while, I won’t have to think how I had it great and perfect for a while.

The problem is, I can’t tell if people send you through this maze because they are jealous of your decision or if they are genuinely worried about you.  I am hoping for the second.  I have had a great career, twenty five years of teaching children the beauty of math and its ability to solve problems and then nineteen years of working with adults, helping them lay out plans and encouraging them to stay on track.  In between, I managed to do over 12,000 tax returns, work on construction crews to build dozens of homes and apartments and even spent a couple of years as a bartender.  The common thread in all of this was all the interesting people I met along the way, that I learned their stories and enjoyed the opportunities to assist them in any way I could.  I have had a rich career and I doubt I will fail in retirement.

I am going to heed my own words.  After a short vacation, I will come to appreciate that I have no obligations and in that freedom I will follow my passion.  I will volunteer when I need to be fulfilled.  I will travel when I need stimulation and I will write when the mood strikes me.  But above all I will try every day to fill my life with memories just as I have for the past 44 years.  Hopefully I might even succeed in writing something somebody will enjoy reading.

Stay tuned…I have just begun to be.