I guess it is time to write this post . . today was Andy's last official day in the office. He will preach his last sermon at Trinity UMC on Sunday morning. I've been in denial - pretty sure. We went to the roast; I planned the surprise lunch (pictures below); I've known it was coming. Grief comes in many forms and I experienced one of those forms today. Andy and I talked about hanging pictures and talked about a sermon binder . . but we didn't say any good byes. On my way home, I called my mother-in-law and said, "why does grief have to physically hurt?" I look forward to the future and to partnering in ministry with Brian but there is a tad of looking back, too. Andy took a chance on me and asked me to come in and interview for a job back in the spring of 2004. Here we are over 11 years later and he is retiring. I'm wondering how many of us will make it through Sunday's service without crying. I'm trying to be joyful for Andy and Dawn - they are starting a new chapter - retirement - together. They have trips planned and Andy has even purchased some new books. See you soon . . not good bye.
So here is the party. We booked the private room at Fish Market downtown. They know Andy by name there because he and Dawn have eaten there so many times. We started planning months ago!! I wrote "lunch with preachers" on his calendar and when he questioned me about it, I just told him that they all wanted to go out one last time.
I had to deliver food to Church of the reconciled so I was able to slip out of the office and take the decorations to the restaurant. I thought we had pulled off the surprise but Hans, one of our maintenance guys, walked right in front of the car where Andy was a passenger . . in the parking lot of the restaurant. Now if it had been ANYONE else in the whole world, that would not have been suspicious. Andy would have just thought to himself, "guess they are coming here for lunch.". But you see, Hans doesn't drive. ding ding ding
So Andy is a huge Alabama fan. It pained me greatly as an Auburn fan, but all the decorations were red and white and houndstooth. Aubrey even made an Alabama Best Wishes cake for him.
Here is some of the group assembling beforehand.
We had a really cool room - all to ourselves.
David Thompson made a prayer bench for Andy. He is so talented. I am surrounded by very talented people every single day!!
Here is another view - cross and flame of the UMC.
We had a special menu with a choice of several yummy items. I had shrimp and grits - one of my all time favorite meals. YUUUMMM!
This is the happy retirement banner I made using my silhouette.
We were waiting at this point . . we knew they were in the parking lot. What in the heck did we do before texting? Really? We filled the room to capacity.
Andy started walking in through the curtain and you could see the confusion on his face.
He actually looks back at Brian. Wonder if he was saying, "Bobby is not in here. It is a bunch of crazy people."
Andy told me that I lied about Church of the Reconciled - but that was not true! I went there first!!
Nathan wrote a funny history of Andy's ministry and he and Brian took turn reading the story. You cannot let a minister loose with a captive audience. They just gotta preach.
George Sarris, owner of The Fish Market, came in to wish Andy well.
And then George said, "take my picture with the new one.". I love his thick accent!! I love to hear him talk!
I think a good time was had by all. The food was good. The fellowship was sweet. Goodness gracious, Andy, we are going to miss you!!