Yesterday was my dad's 53rd birthday and also the day of his going away party after nearly 20 years as a St Joe ER doc. I started off a little wary of going to the party considering I would be the only person under 30 and a bit self conscious of my vagabond life plans not measuring up to the expectations of a room full of medical field-types. But, I decided to go anyway because 1) I had already bought a dress for the occasion, 2) I never turn down a meal at the Corndance, and 3) I would be supporting my dad in the process.
The party started off a bit awkward. Forced, choppy conversations and empty introductions began to set the tone for the evening. Beside that, my dress wouldn't stop sticking to my tights, I had a huge zit on my face, and I was dizzily hungry. But, I figured I would suck it up and use the situation to work on my polite chit-chat skills, which paid off. I ended up talking to the lady beside me (very possibly the next youngest in the room) about environmental education and camping for a while and a retired doctor about photography and Africa after that. It was actually a lot of fun.
My favorite and the most beautiful part of the evening, though, came when my dad gave his goodbye speech. For those of you that don't know Dr. Bruce Wayne Speicher, I would compare my dad to a giant grizzly bear. He is a large, usually quiet man with strength in both his gentleness and power. His hugs are the absolute best because you are completely engulfed and protected, but he also somehow has the power to scare the goobles out of you when he is mad. As he delivered his speech, his gentleness radiated through the room. He spoke of how proud he was of the work he had accomplish while working at St Joe, how he treasures the friendships he made despite disagreements among the staff, and most importantly, how he couldn't have done any of it without the love and support of his wife, my mom.
It was so sweet and heartfelt and really made me so proud to have the parents I have. The Speichers are not known for having impeccable communication skills, humility or showing of affection, but when we do, it is from the deepest, most sacred place of the heart. It was really good to see and a great reminder of what is important about a family and relationships. If only for a few choice moments, I am very. very glad that I went to that party and was able to recognize its beauty.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” -St Francis de Sales