Late yesterday afternoon, we loaded up the kids (minus Ryan because he was already down there) and headed down to Athens. My parents didn’t know it yet, but at the banquet that they were attending, the accounting department at OU was going to honor them as my mom retired last year and my dad is kind of planning to retire this summer. Although in academia-land, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually stop working…my mom still teaches one semester a year, and my dad is planning on doing that as well…when he actually goes through with retirement.
We dropped the kids off with John’s dad and met my sisters before heading in to the “cocktail” hour. I say that loosely because there were no freaking cocktails – silly school-sponsored event :) My dad was very confused. He said he saw our nametags sitting there and just figured whoever made the name tags had just printed all accounting alumni or something. I could tell, even as he was trying hard to socialize and introduce us to people we didn’t know, that he was worried/stressed/baffled about what was in store. When my mom walked in she too was quite confused.
We moved into the banquet room, the president of Beta Alpha Psi said a few words, and we were up to get our food. We ate dinner, and about an hour later the presentation began. There were a couple of awards, including one for my dad for “faculty innovation.” Then they brought up a former student who gushed and talked about how my mom had convinced her to change her major to accounting and how influential she and my dad both were. She then invited my mom to come up and say a few words. Then another student came up and talked about his first encounter with my dad, and how he changed his life forever, and then my dad went up and said a few words.
The rest of the banquet was pretty boring…I browsed Pinterest most of the time :) But afterwards, there were rounds of congratulations, talking to professors that I hadn’t seen in years, and then a family picture. Then John and I left to go pick up the kids and make the hour and forty minute drive back to Columbus.
I was lucky enough to have my dad as my professor for two sets of accounting classes (my mom had not yet begun teaching when I was in school). He was everything everybody said he was. He taught with passion and gave so many real-life examples that really brought the books to life. His most recent achievement is writing the textbook for each year of Accounting 101. He updates it with current students’ names (and also with kids’ and grandkids’ names) and the students seem to love it. I can’t see my dad ever being done with teaching…his heart and soul belong in a classroom. It’s amazing to think that the courage it took to change career paths so many years into a career would pay out in so many ways. My dad went back to school to get his doctorate when I was 5, which would have put him in his late 30’s. I don’t remember my parents making that decision, but I do remember when they were trying to decide between moving from State College, PA to either Peoria, IL or Kent, OH. I was playing outside and they kept telling us they would take us for ice cream once they had decided. I don’t believe we ever got ice cream because they talked late into the night. My mom and I had even gone and visited Bradley University (in Peoria, IL). In the end, they decided on Ohio, where my dad taught for years before moving down to Ohio University in Athens. I was always pretty upset about that move…I was a Junior in high school after all. But I did meet John my senior year and it was very apparent that Athens, OH was where God wanted my mom and dad to be.