Dad – aka Dadamo Dad, Pa, Iron Mike, Chokeleski, M.C. (get it, emcee? M.C. Mike Chmieleski. Is this thing on?),
Today you will retire. It is a day you’ve looked forward to. It will bring with it vacations, golf, family time, new activities, volunteering, and the chance to sleep in (will you even be able to?).
And as much as you will have the opportunity to no longer work, I doubt you will stop working. It seems a part of your DNA as much as the name “Chmieleski” is. So although you will retire today, I believe the work will continue.
With that, I want to honor you for working hard on behalf of your family. I have been, and continue to be, a recipient of your faithfulness and effort.
Dad, here are several lessons you have taught me through the years:
* You taught me to work hard. Many people work. Few work hard. You taught me the value of working hard.Thank you! I have seen many who did not have this example. So, thank you for modeling this for me.
* You taught me to work hard without complaining. So if few work hard, then even fewer work hard without complaining. I can’t recall a time where you griped and complained about working hard (my memory could be failing me, after all I did inherit that trait from you). You went to work. You came home. You repeated. Over and over again, for years, without complaints.
* You taught me that work doesn’t end when you arrive home. You worked hard away from us. And you worked hard when you returned to us. You tackled everything from wood rot to old cars to yard upkeep to pool maintenance to updating computers to painting the house to paying bills to siding replacement to building birdhouses to assembling Pinewood Derby cars to oil changes (remember the time I screwed in the plug crooked and you came out to a floor full of oil?) to helping your dad/aunt/sister/friends/neighbors. You worked hard around our house.
* You taught me the value of family. More important to you than our house was our family. Amongst the busyness of life, you never made me feel like you were too busy. You wrestled. You taught me to water ski. You helped with my math homework. You were present at football and basketball and baseball games. You played catch and shagged balls. You golfed with us boys (I know that you life golf too. But because I now caddy for Drew and Isaac I see how much work this was for you!). You hung out in the pool. You watched sports and movies. You gave me your time. Thank you.
* You taught me the value of not quitting. Life provides many opportunities to quit. But quitting is not something you did. Things don’t always get fixed the first time around (When it happened to you, I might get entertained by you with a “well, for crying out loud!”). Friendships go through seasons of ups and downs. Sports games don’t always end in a fairytale. In these circumstances, you taught me well to keep on going.
* You taught me the value of staying flexible. You’d say, “Stay flexible and then you won’t break.” I’ve never forgotten that. Jill quotes you on that too. I’m sure my boys will hear that from both of us for many years to come.
* You taught me the value of loving my wife. You loved Mom. You brought her flowers. You’d kiss her in the kitchen when you arrived home. You’d write gushy love stuff in cards. You’d speak well of her in her presence and absence. You’d protect her in those moments when her boys were less than 100% respectful. Thank you for so loving your wife so that I might better love mine.
Dad, on this day, the day of your retirement, I salute you.
I toast you.
I thank you.
I praise God for you.