My father worked 37 years as a public school teacher. When his retirement was near, my wife and I decided that a special celebration was in order, despite our own financial crunch.
We scoured local venues for a place to host a dinner. All the places were too expensive, even if we made it a potluck meal. But we didn’t want to opt for a quiet thank-you dinner at home – it wouldn't be festive enough.
Then my wife got the idea to ask the high school band director to organize a surprise thank-you performance and pep rally.
On one of his last days at school, I met my father with some story about needing to go to Lowe’s for new fencing. When we walked out to the parking lot, I told him that I wanted to see the football field again to see if it had changed much.
Of course it had changed a lot! There was the band in full regalia and a huge banner reading, "Well done, Dad. 37 field goals!" The band played some of my father’s favorite band music, including tunes of John Philip Sousa, which he adores, as any ex-Army officer would.
My father was stunned. He could not believe that all his colleagues, friends, and family were there to help him celebrate. After the performance, the band was treated to pizza and we departed for the nearby state park for a barbecue and picnic.
My father remembers that day as one of his best school days. He was so touched when he saw the banner flying over the football field. He still has it in his garage.