The Sound of Music lyrics popped into my head tonight as I reflected on the idea of my dad retiring tomorrow. I’m writing this because I want to remember exactly how I am feeling as a proud daughter tonight and also to share with my kids one day the legacy their Papa leaves behind. And also because my dad is humble and would never make a big deal out of this major accomplishment in his life.
My dad is the first man I ever knew and really knew well. He talked to me as an adult when I began to experience teenage things that made me feel like the world was coming to an end. He was always real and raw. Sometimes taking my breath away with the truth and life lessons that just simply hit home.
Fast forward six years to my college graduation and the dilemma of finding a job. I was a communication and journalism major and was convinced that I was going to be the next reporter that somehow found a way to become relevant in a dying industry. Omg was I foolish.
But when I was having my daily chat with my dad on the way home from one of my three jobs in college, my dad suggested I apply to State Farm. His company. Our family’s company. The only place I ever knew as an option for employment because that was my life from existence. Absolutely not I said to my dad. No way was I going to get a job doing what my dad does, just because I couldn’t make it as a journalist at the prime peek of the recession. Little did I know, it didn’t have jack crap to do with the job- it actually had everything to do with excellent advice.
I ended up beginning my post graduate career at the company I use to visit as a child. The company where I met adjusters who had just worked Catastrophe losses that wiped out homes in the coastal regions of North Carolina. The company I met House Representatives who knew that State Farm was a strong political platform for influence. The company I was able to draw on a chalkboard during a retirement celebration with every single color a little girl could ever dream of having at her fingertips. The company I saw my mom repeatedly dress up as the Good Neighbear to pass out “click it or ticket” stickers because she cared and believed in my dads purpose working as a Claims Manager at State Farm. The company I saw my dad lead in an environment where he made a difference. The company that I saw my dad repeatedly go on storm duty for months at a time because he believed in helping people. The company I was excited to visit and now, the place I call my home.
It took me years to even mention that my dad worked for the company I am now a proud employee of- in a new city with my own goals and purpose. Obviously I didn’t want the perception to be that I was handed anything and did what was easy. But recently, as I experienced my 10th year with this amazing company and where my brother is now an integral part of as well- I started to share stories of my childhood around regional State Farm offices and share, proudly might I add- that my dad was my role model for my career. He paved the way for me. For my generation and for all those people out there that feel that deep purpose in their job. He is a little rough around the edges and I love that I inherited that – sometimes, I loathe it but it does make me down to earth as some may say. Ha! He is the typical baby boomer that is ready to have his toes in the sand, play golf, and leave the vision execution up to the next class act of State Farm. He inspires me. He inspires my brother and he inspires those that want to hear his words.
So with your retirement tomorrow Dad- please understand that I am beyond proud of you. But a little sad that my role model, my mentor, my friend – is no longer green on Skype. I love you and thank you for everything you have taught me. Most importantly, I’m grateful that you worked hard, lived hard, and loved hard. Eastern North Carolina Fire Claims will never be the same without you. But because of you, we are all just a little bit better.