On June 12, 2013, I spent 1 hour 45 minutes drafting a blog post I wanted to publish for Father’s Day in honor of my dad, known to many of you as Mr. Femling. I had a plan in mind, a vision of what I wanted to do for my dad. But there came a time, even after all the effort I put into writing that draft, that I felt overwhelmed. This was too big of a task for one person to take on. Emotions and uncertainty stirred up in me as I got further into the post. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to complete the post, publish it, and execute my plan, but I just wasn’t sure. So I dropped it.
The blog post has been sitting in my draft archives for a year, but it hasn’t escaped my mind.
One month ago, I approached my husband and shared what I wanted to do for my dad. I considered the possibility of dedicating a chunk of time for it on the blog in June, maybe even make it a series. But the way I had it all planned out in my mind felt too big, required far too much planning, and the outcome wasn’t guaranteed. While my husband appreciated my thoughtfulness, he assured me that repairing this piece of history wasn’t my responsibility, so after much thought, I decided once again to drop the concept.
But the blog post still hasn’t escaped my mind.
I still feel compelled to act.
So let’s get right to it!
Father’s Day is in two days.
My dad has a rare lung disease and recently had a heart attack. He’s not felt well since.
My dad has been retired for eight years, but I think most people would agree that the end of his career as a public school band director was less than ideal. I won’t attempt to explain, but quite honestly, it was a challenging time for my dad and our family. We tried to help my dad process and manage an unexpected ending to his lifelong career as band director, but by the time he officially retired, we were also two years in to the worst of my sister’s battle with addiction and mental illness.
All of this to say that I believe my dad was not given a proper retirement celebration. None of us had an opportunity to celebrate and honor my dad’s awesome career!
Another thing I regret is that I never got to see him direct his last concert. Under normal circumstances, performing and attending his last concert would have been a big deal.
It’s been eight years since my dad’s retirement, so you’d think I would have gotten over this by now. But it’s always bothered me that he never got the celebration and acknowledgement he deserved for all the years he put in as a band director.
I’ve feared that my dad will pass away someday having NEVER heard first hand the awesome ways he touched peoples’ lives through his role as band director. I’ve feared that my dad will pass away someday with sadness remaining in his heart about the way his career ended. I’ve feared that there will never be true closure for my dad or our family. I’ve feared that I will regret having never done anything about it, that I’ll carry this burden to my own death bed, wishing I would’ve done something to honor and celebrate my dad’s career.
With that in mind, my dad deserves one gift and it’s long overdue.
So today, I’m taking action.
Today, I honor and celebrate my dad!
Today, I turn pain into peace, regrets into closure, make wrongs right.
Today, let’s open our hearts and celebrate a man who passionately pursued his career. Let’s recognize a man who showed up at work, with honor, every single day. Let’s give praise to a man who went above and beyond, a man who communicated without hesitation the integrity and excellence he expected from his students. Let’s let him know his passion was worth the pursuit.
Today, I’m throwing a belated retirement party for my dad! It’s happening right here, right now, in this place, on this space, right here on this blog.
Yes, it’s unconventional. Yes, some will most certainly think it’s odd.
Yes, it’s spontaneous and NOT the way I usually do things. I don’t know the outcome and I don’t know if word of this virtual retirement party will spread like I want it to.
But I’m taking the risk anyway – for my dad.
I can’t change the past, but I can change how I respond to it.
Today, I fight for justice, do what’s right for the sake of another human being who happens to be my dad.
So here’s how this is going to work!
1) Please share this blog post on your Facebook page so as many people can read the post and participate as possible. If you know my dad and/or live(d) in one of the three cities where he taught, take special note. I need you to spread the word. Simple word of mouth will work, but you’ll have to share the name and URL of my website, Divine In The Daily at www.amybethpederson.com. Thank you in advance for your help. The more we get this post out, the more well wishes my dad will receive and the more fun memories he’ll be able to relive.
2) Please leave your messages and well wishes for my dad right here on the blog! Write what you would’ve written in a greeting card if you would’ve been invited to a retirement party for my dad. Be brave. Be bold. Be positive and encouraging, loving and kind. Share memories you have about my dad when he was your colleague, your band director, or your childrens’ band director. There are two ways to leave messages for my dad on the blog. (Scroll down a little further and you’ll find the comments below this post.) You can leave a message in the Facebook comments section of my blog. If you leave a message using that method, my dad will be able to see your picture and respond to you directly. If you don’t have a Facebook account and/or prefer to be more anonymous, you can also leave a wish for my dad in the regular comments section!
3) If you feel strongly about maintaining confidentiality, but would still like to send my dad a message, please feel free to email me your letters at email@example.com and I will be sure to forward all messages to my dad.
4) I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to get some pictures from my dad’s years teaching band. If you have a picture of my dad (and you?!) at any point during his band directing years and are willing to give me permission to use it, I would love a digital copy to include on the blog. I realize my dad retired before digital photography became popular, so simply take a photograph of the photograph, and send it to me via email. All photographs can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. *If you email me a photograph, I assume you also give me permission to share it publicly within the body of this blog post! I am looking for oldies, but goodies! Please send as many photographs as you’d like! This could be great fun for my dad. Marching band, pep band, concerts, solo and ensemble contests, jazz bands, staff or department parties, whatever!
5) If you have any other creative ideas for making this even more fun, please feel free to send me a message with your idea(s) at email@example.com. Want to make a cake and send it to my dad? Great idea. Want to bring dinner to my parents or send a gift card so they can go out to eat? Great idea. Want to send balloons and flowers? Great idea. Want to dig up some old VHS footage of concerts and transfer it to DVD so we can have it to view for a lifetime? Great! Have connections and know the person who has footage of the last concert my dad directed? AWESOME. WE WANT A COPY. Please share.
6) Return to the site throughout the week. I will leave this post at the top of my homepage for at least one week, so it will be easy to find. If all goes well, people will be posting new messages for my dad throughout the week. And I’ll be adding fun photographs you won’t want to miss! So come, mingle, peruse, share memories and enjoy the fun!
So that’s about it! As I type this, I admit, I’m more than a little nervous. There are no guaranteed outcomes. But I believe, whether five people respond or 50 respond, they have something to say that will bring my dad joy, peace and freedom.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you in advance for the kind words you’re about to leave for my dad. Because he deserves to hear how awesome he was, how awesome he is.
May this post be filled with words of encouragement, of blessing, of thanks and gratitude for a man whose career as band director was amazing, incredible and remarkable.
And before I leave this space to y’all, I’ll start us off on the right note! Our son started band lessons this week, and guess what he decided to play? Trumpet.
Amy (Mr. Femling’s daughter)
THANKS FOR THE SUBMITTED PHOTOS!
The Marvelous Mirage rock band, together after 42 years! Photo taken October 6, 2013. Submitted by Tiffany Femling.
Photographs of the 1988-89 school year! Submitted by Joel Kosman