My father will turn 80 this Friday. It’s a little disconcerting to me because if he’s turning 80, that means that I’m…uh…getting up there as well!
He’s in the front on the left
Senior picture, 1955
That’s us Thanksgiving 2017
I’ve been planning a family party for him for the past month. At Christmas, I told the rest of the family that I was planning a party to celebrate his 80 years on the planet. I told him too, and he said, “It’s just another day and I’ll be working that day.”
Yes, my father is still working. He has retired three times but he just keeps going back to work because he likes being around people. He’s a school crossing guard for an elementary school here in Texas. He told me last week that it’s his favorite job ever.
I went to watch him work one day last year and I understand why he likes it so much. He gets treated like a Rockstar at work. The kids call him “Mr. Paul” and they all high five or fist bump him as they cross the street…even the younger siblings in their parents’ arms stick a little fist out to him as they go by.
Parents stop and say “hello” and call and wave to him from cars. Kids show him their new shoes and backpacks and school projects. One little girl even showed him how she could do a cartwheel while they waited for the traffic to clear.
My dad takes his job very seriously. One extremely cold week not long ago, I asked him if he would be okay outside in such frigid weather and he said, “I have to be there to keep the kids safe.”
So, this weekend, our family will come together to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. His grandchildren are flying in from Michigan and Indiana and bringing two great-grandchildren along. (He almost couldn’t believe it when I told him.) My brother and his family will travel from the Austin, Texas area to be a part of the celebration. And now that it’s all happening, my dad is very excited about having a birthday party, even if it is just another day!
What he doesn’t know, is that family and friends from across the country have sent cards and notes and favorite memories of him that we will read at the party. He also doesn’t know that the school where he works is doing a little something for him to mark the day. And, there will be lots of other surprises because turning 80 is a pretty big deal!
Author’s note: The hardest part of planning a party for an 80-year-old, is that the stores don’t carry birthday decorations for anyone older than 60. Do they think we stop having birthday parties at 60? I searched every store in the area and only found a few “80th” birthday cards. Finally, I went online and was able to find some decorations and paper products on Amazon. I also found some fun decorating ideas on Pinterest. I’ll post pictures from the celebration next week!