First we recieved a phone call from the superintendent, then a formal letter came and as some of you might know, my dad is being honored by the school board he worked for the last 17 years at their homecoming/Thanksgiving Day high school football game. This is a really big deal, in general and especially to my dad who just keeps asking about it and talking about it.
Aware of the limited time frame, the board also decided to honor my dad at a meeting of theirs as well because they "wanted to make sure he could enjoy it".
This evening at the board meeting, there was a special section in their agenda just for my dad. The superintendent stood up before everyone (a very crowded room, actually of teachers, parents and students there to be honored as "students of the month") and asked my dad to stand up with him. He said that the school may not have won every championship, but the grounds never failed to receive compliments from everyone that played there. After saying that when he first came to work for the school system there, no one exemplified pride in the school like my dad, the superintendent took the school pride pin off his jacket and gave it to my dad.
The president of the board also presented my dad with a beautiful clock with a personalized plate that reads:
In Recognition Of 17 Years Of Dedicated Service As The Groundskeeper For Clayton Public Schools.
The Clayton Board of Education Wishes You Much Happiness And Success In Your Retirement
November 9, 2009"
... and my dad received a standing ovation.
After the principles' minutes, there were cookies, brownies and a cake for my dad as well, which obviously the kids there loved! It was a very nice evening and I distracted myself taking pictures enough to not cry much, but it does make me cry now.
String the story of my dad's life together and last night was the stuff of dreams ... the fact he couldn't genuinely enjoy the honor like I know he would if this disease weren't eating away at the very man he was makes me cry. He was honored like I'm not sure he ever thought he would be and not because that was a goal of his, but because he simply liked his job and doing what was right - like working hard.
For those free and in South Jersey on Thanksgiving morning, my dad will be honored at half time by the board and students at the football game on the same field he lovingly cared for for so many years. This is your invitation from me to join us.