Not the Party I Had in Mind

Once upon a time, in what seems like an age long, long, ago, two people met and a year later, along with two little girls, began a marriage/family adventure that’s lasted for 43 years, and hopefully will continue on for a long time.

Our parents gifted us a bedroom set for a wedding present then. That same set, though timeworn, still serves us today (a couple new mattresses and new spring though). After we married, we bought a new five-piece living room set (sling couch, sling loveseat, two end tables, and a coffee table), believe it or not, for $200. The end tables and coffee table still adorn our living room to this day, though I’ve made a few tweaks to have them fit in with the sports museum theme of our living room. The china cabinet and buffet from our dining room set, purchased from relatives shortly after we wed, still stand in our dining room, solid as rocks, manufactured right here in Jamestown at Maddox Furniture.

We’re still using appliances that have stood for many years, I’m driving a car that will celebrate its 21st birthday as a member of our family in less than a year, I haven’t seen my upper lip since I grew a mustache back in my junior year of high school (1970), all of this saying, we’ve lived the philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and/or “If it’s working, keep on doing it.” We believe in people and things that last, just like our marriage.

That seems to have carried over with our jobs too these past 43 plus years we’ve known each other. I’ve spent the past 45 years in education, which includes pre-classroom substitute teaching, 31 years in classrooms in Jamestown, summer tutoring, post-retirement subbing, and add coaching and/or officiating for 50 years prior to, during, and after my years of employment, as they too involved working with kids and in some cases, communicating with parents. For three years after we married, Sally had more than one job, sometimes three at a time, to help us stay solvent, and keep that 39 cent a pound chicken on our table, often, five/six times a week. After those three years, though, she decided to make a career change, and chose to babysit children in our home. Her decision also allowed her to be home when our kids got out of school, were sick, or had a day off from school. Her decision meant a sacrifice of no-pay when her kids didn’t come for whatever reason, no paid sick leave when she was ill, no paid school snow days/holidays/summers off, no benefits (life and/or health insurance, or retirement plan, unless we ourselves paid into those things) and for having to pay Social Security Tax, as she claimed her income to the IRS annually.

For the past 40 years, Miss Sally has served youngsters (and I can’t remember how many because it’s been so many), as a surrogate (not replacement) mother, and later grandma to the many children she has helped families raise.

Her business has seen some of the children she’s watched grow up, marry, and have their own children, One former “sittee” had children whom Sally watched when they were also in their pre-school years, earning her business multi-generational status.

I’ve been in awe of the way Sally organized and planned her days with her children, balancing recreational, educational, indoor and outdoor activities, arts and crafts (including holiday gifts for parents) time, quiet time, sing and dance time, naptimes, and TV times, all the while emphasizing responsibilities of table behavior, manners, picking up/putting toys where they belong, sharing, and playing nicely together. She’s even helped parents of her children “P” train many of the kids she’s watched. She had a timeout location, and created routines that she instilled in the minds of the children she’s watched. I’ve seen so much more of how organized she has been in her business since I’ve retired and been home more than when I was teaching full-time. In these words, far too few to paint the full picture of Sally’s career, she has been, and is, amazingly awesome.

Flashback to last Friday, June 24, at 5 p.m., when Miss Sally officially retired from serving children and their parents as that surrogate mommy and grandma she’s been to so many for the past 40 years. I wanted to plan a retirement party honoring Sally for the remarkable influence she’s been to so many children throughout the years she’s babysat. She certainly deserved/deserves to be recognized for her career, but in typical Sally fashion, she told me she didn’t want a huge bash. She did concede to let me take her to dinner, where we ran into a few friends and at least got to toast her amazing accomplishments over the past 40 plus years.

It’s not exactly the party I wanted to throw for you Miss Sally, but big bash or quiet dinner, I could not, or would not, be any prouder of the job that you’ve done and the person you are. Congratulations on a fantastic career!


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