I wrote this speech for my Dad's retirement party. However, I was not able to attend. But since I think it's one of my best written works I thought I would post it. I'll take even odds if Dad cries reading this.
I am thankful for my Grandparents John M. (Ray) Long, and Betty Long. They raised three children during tough times, and always strived to make a better life for them. While parents are never perfect, I admire the fact that they personally worked to learn and grow to be better parents and human beings. Truthfully, I couldn’t have asked for better Grandparents, and that’s the truth.
He had the wife. He got the bank loan, and got the house. Then came a very important goal and one reason to live in Florida. He was able to get a lot of hunting and fishing in. That’s right, freshwater, saltwater, brackish water, shallow water, river, sand flats, mud flats, deep water, deep sea, under bridges, and off the pier, there is a lot of fishing to be accomplished. Here’s a true story, all the relatives said that Dad’s fishing days where over now that he got married. Well, my Mom told them “No they weren’t, and that she would go with him.” Armed with a fishing pole, fishing license and the smallest blue bikini that may or may not have been legal at the time, my Mom always went fishing with my Dad. That’s a true story, and here’s another. In all the years of fishing, my parents were only stopped by the marine patrol once, and that was when Mom was wearing that blue bikini. Let’s be honest, the marine patrol only has an hour’s worth of work to do a day, and has to kill the other seven hours doing something else. Who can blame them?
There was adventure. I remember him taking me to a swamp that looked like something Indiana Jones would only dare into. Truthfully, I was only five or six, and we went fishing down the Hillsborough River. But remember, to a kid it was an amazing adventure. I remember Dad driving his Army type Jeep in a huge forest. In actuality, he had a short bed Ford pickup truck that was green, but to me it was Jeep. That huge forest was actually Croom Wildlife Management Area. In that amazing adventure we had somewhere between 10-12 deer (all does) walk right out in front of the truck, and just stare at us for a good two minutes. Again, I was about six, and had an orange toy ray gun. I managed to shoot every one of those deer many times over. I was just a very young kid, but I shot a dozen deer that day.
When I look back in my life, there are two days that I can clearly say were the greatest days of my life. I never went out, and planned for them to be great. They just were. If you remember what I said at the beginning of this speech, this could be the greatest day of your life. You don’t plan for it, it just happens. Well the one day I can’t tell you about… for personal reasons, but the other day was when I was fourteen. Dad, myself, and our friend John Wease went fishing at Tarpon Springs. It didn’t start out as a great day. The waves were three feet high, and I already felt like puking. However, after an hour the water became like glass. What made this fishing trip special was that the Spanish mackerel were passing through Tarpon Springs. We were all doing pretty well fishing, but I was having real good luck in particular. As the sun came up, both Dad and I kept noticing a big black shadow swimming underneath the boat. There was one cast that I kind of screwed up, and started reeling it in. That’s when I saw the shadow. I just let my lure sink underneath the boat. It was then my rod completely bent over, I set the hook, and two foot of line got dragged out. Dad immediately yelled, “Let him take it…” However, I had other ideas. I turned my reel twice, and jerked as hard as I could on the rod. It was then that a giant Spanish mackerel came flying out of the water, went ten foot high, and landed in the boat. All of this happened in less than two seconds. Actually, I think the fish spent more time in the air than in the water. It got some good hang time. Well, my Dad gave me that irritated kind of look, and said, “Well, didn’t feel like giving him much of a fighting chance did you?” I couldn’t blame him for being irritated. I mean, he did almost get hit with a flying Spanish mackerel. For the record, I did get nine mackerel, many trout, and a couple of black sea bass that day. That’s a good day. Correction, that was the greatest day.
There are those people who wear the t-shirts that say, proud parent. Well, my Dad didn’t wear the shirt, because he proved it by his actions. He never said, “Get good grades or else!” No, he just went down to the school, and talked to the teachers and principals. He would ask them, “Adrian needs improvement here. What can we do, and what can he do to improve?” He took an active role in parenting. He also did something that only a true proud parent t-shirt wearer could do. He attended every single one of my football games, and track meets. He also made all the important orchestra concerts that I was in. Think about that, that’s dedication.
As my Dad has been here at the Post Office for almost 25 years, there are a lot of co-workers who have been great friends or made life a little bit easier along the way for him.