Forty-three years ago, my daddy (and yes, I still call him daddy) began working for a large grocery chain. He was very young, extremely broke, newly married with a child on the way, and just barely a high-school graduate. Suddenly at eighteen, he was responsible for a wife and baby that would arrive come September. The year was 1969, and gone were any chances of going to college. Any dreams he may have had for his future were replaced by the demands of necessity. Necessity demanded that he make enough money to support a family. Necessity became the commander of his life.
My mother always told me that their parents had politely and succinctly told them that the day they graduated from high school, they were on their own. The words, “you made your bed, now sleep in it,” were part of her story. It was the time, it was simply the way it was. It was the sixties in the south, and youthful dreams quickly took a backseat to reality.
My parents were so young but they were never young to me. They were parents regardless of their age. They fed, clothed, filled the den with toys on Christmas morning, disciplined when we needed it, instilled great manners, but more than anything, they loved. My parents had abundant love for us given how very young they were.
Through moves, through divorce, through remarriage and more children, my daddy stayed on with this original company. He worked long, hard hours every one of the forty-three years he served this business. Knees were injured, hernias erupted, but with a tenacity many young people have never heard of or experienced, he endured. He stayed, he worked for every cent he made, and he never lost his ability to love.
Today, my daddy is retiring. Today is his last full day as a working man! I guess starting out young gives one the opportunity to work for a very long time. The true blessing is even after working for forty-three years, daddy is still young enough to enjoy a long, thriving retirement. My celebratory wish is that he enjoys every single minute of it! Thank you, daddy, for giving your all, for holding on even when circumstances seemed insurmountable, and for never losing your ability to love and the joy in your heart . Those things will be your legacy to us all.