On October 17th, friends and family came together in honor of my stepfather’s retirement which concluded with a roast. I had not planned on speaking but I am my mother’s daughter. After hearing a couple of folks gently prod at some of David’s well-known habits, I had some gems that I just had to share. What follows here is my best recollection of the impromptu speech. It may not be that amusing to strangers, but it hits the funny bone of those who know him well.
Several years ago, my wonderful and patient husband spent 7 months living with my parents while he started his job here in Maine and I stayed in New York to sell the house. In that time, he came to realize where I’d gotten many of my habits. Sometimes, he would see something in my mother and say “Oh, that’s where you get it!” but many times it was David’s influence that became clear.
He understood why I’d always been very particular about my tools. When I moved in to my first apartment, David gave me the requisite toolbox including a prybar he’d found in a crazy pink/purple color. I borrowed his etching tool and etched my initials into the various wrenches and screwdrivers. Early in our relationship, Aaron borrowed a screwdriver from me and didn’t get why I was so upset when he threw it in the trunk of his car and it got a little rusty. Aaron also knew why I always asked where I might find the tool I wanted before I went into our garage, where his “organizational” system was a little more fluid than David’s.
He finally knew why he’d suddenly find himself in a dark room. When I was a child, David had a jar and we had to put in a quarter every time we left a light on. I got very good at turning lights on when I was done with them, though that didn’t always mean that everyone was done with them.
He realized why I was so smitten with our bank’s budget tracking features and sometimes spend hours making a spreadsheet to estimate the month’s spending. Unlike David, my spreadsheet is never accurate to what we really end up spending. Also, mine is a Google worksheet. I’ve forgotten about Lotus and moved on from Excel.
After 7 months of living with my parents alone, I was finally able to join Aaron. Unfortunately for him, it took us another 7 months to find a house. In that time, much to his chagrin, he could not help but pick up some habits of his own. When we got our first cast iron pan, he took charge of caring for it and always made sure it spent the required number of minutes on a burner to dry after washing. I leave it to him, since I have my mother’s unfortunate habit of leaving things on the stove too long. Occasionally Aaron remarks that it would be good to have hooks above the sink for drying our cutting boards. When I point out where he got these ideas from, he laments “I know but… he’s right!”
When he and Mom were close to their retirement date, I kept asking Mom “What can I get David? What can I get him?” I knew how excited he was for that day – I’d seen the spreadsheet with the automatic countdown. She told me that what he wanted most was for everyone to attend his retirement party. It was really important to him that his friends and family were there to share in his celebration. He’s very hard to buy gifts for because he’s always valued presence over presents, something that he’s modeled for us kids.
His love and support have been better than any physical gift that he’s ever given me… including that really righteous pink prybar.