behind the uniform

There are many jobs that require uniforms. For example:

Baseball Players
You're welcome for throwing it back to the George Brett 80's era. 
But really, this is what major league baseball players go to work in. Pretty sweet gig, if you ask me. 
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Big Wigs:
Ya know, the CEOs and other abbreviated titles that require expensive suits and cuff links. 
This could be consider their work uniform. 
google images

 Youth Pastors:
Admit it, this is funny because this is actually the youth pastor uniform [guitar and facial not-quite-beard included]. 
google images
Doctors/Nurses/ Medical Personell: 
I.E. the people that get to go to work in their pajamas. Can you say it with me, "Not fair!" [except that I, essentially, go to work in my pajamas whenever I want now. And also except that they get vomited and bled on, so really I guess it's fair]. 

google images
In my life there has been one constant with uniforms, and it is that my dad has always worn one. 
It switched from gray to blue over the years, but it was always with shiny shoes, a gun, handcuffs, and bullet proof vest that my dad walked out the door for work. 

Because my dad has always been in law enforcement, I'm sure there are plenty of ways that I look differently at the world than others. A few examples: if in an unfamiliar location, especially at night, I take wide angles around the corners of buildings, as I've been taught you never know who may be lurking. I also have shot a variety of guns at a variety of targets. Self defense lessons often took place in our living room, and he only made my mom pass out once when showing her where pressure points were located. Seeing flashing lights on the road typically gives me a sense of security, instead of panic. I have to think in military time to know when to tell my dad to come over. 
With his brothers: Kirby, a city police officer, and Creighton, a corrections officer [yes, can you tell they are ornery?]
some of those moves I was talking about…Brent's a good man
I think most girls feel safe when their dad is around, or they know that their dad will get there quickly if they call and need him. I knew this to the nth degree. I knew if I called, my dad's lights would be blazin' and his speedometer would be, well… up there! [Let's just say he and my mom were the first to arrive at the hospital when I called to tell them Blythe had arrived so quickly!] My dad always has a gun nearby, has been trained to wrestle grown men to the ground, and has been deemed the keeper of the "flying panties" since my sister was little and he rescued her in a dream [from flying monkeys]. And don't disregard this guy's number one weapon he's developed over the years of being in public service: a silver tongue that can convince even the drunkest of people to bend to his will. 

When I would hug my dad as he left for work, the stiff bullet proof vest would be unmoving. I usually didn't think anything of it. After awhile though, and after the reality of the very real dangers of law enforcement reached us with Bob's death, that rigid plate was a reminder of the potential sacrifice my dad was making every day he headed out the door to enforce the law, yes, but to serve and protect to the utmost.  

A lot of little kids, and some older kids, are afraid of uniforms: firemen, policemen, you name it. It was never this way in our family. I know personally that I always felt a kind of kinship towards anyone in uniform; I felt like I understood them in ways others may not. I know some people have had bad experiences, or have unfortunately had to deal with the rotten egg or two that are out there and it has left a bad taste in their mouth towards law enforcement. Trust me, you're not telling our family anything new if you tell us there are some not-so-good-guys that can wear a uniform too. But luckily I've met a lot, and I can say with no hesitation that mostly it's the good guys behind the badges that serve us. My dad, obviously, being one of them. 

It's been fun to see Blythe and Kali's kids realize that Papa comes with a uniform [but more importantly a very cool flashlight to play with]. He somehow mastered the ability to carry a baby comfortably while still wearing all the necessary equipment [Blythe only tried to push the bright red emergency call button on his radio 83 times, but they managed!]. 

 This week marks the last week my dad will be in uniform. 
He is retiring. 

It will be strange to not see the patrol car in his driveway, or know he's out "fighting for the good guys" when I crawl in bed, or see him lace up his boots anymore. I will no longer hear the familiar zchick of the crackling velcro when he removes his vest. 

 But I also won't have to wonder if he's working a routine traffic stop or on a high speed chase after a guy with a known record. I won't have to worry about waking him from his naps after a night shift [I still might accidentally wake him from his naps though, let's be honest], or worry that he's falling asleep at the wheel at 3 AM. I won't worry about him being the one that has to go to some mother's door and deliver the worst news she's ever received. 
I won't have to worry about that bullet proof vest being used anymore. 

At this point in the post, I'm staring at my blinking cursor, wondering if I can really wrap up my dad's career in an adequate way. So I'll just say this: I know that my dad will keep being the man that serves and protects-- the man that seeks justice. I know he'll keep being the man that he's always been, even after he hands in that uniform that has been such a part of our lives. 
[And I know he'll still notice when people don't come to a complete stop or use their blinker or display drunken tendencies. Let's be honest.] 

It's been [mostly :)] fun being a daughter of law enforcement. 
Thanks for being one of the good guys, Dad. 
When it's time to be done, it's time to be done. And though I've enjoyed rooting for you behind the uniform, it's time to be done. And that's a good thing too. 

Happy retirement! 
I know, without a doubt, that it will truly be a happy one!
[and your retirement present will be ready for you in, oh, about 5 weeks ;)]

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Melinda Moss said...

Love, love, love this one. So very glad that it's time to be done, too.

Jeannie Griffin said...

This is a beautiful tribute. :)

Roger Sherman said...

Very well written!

Brent said...

I'm happy to be test dummy for arm bars and restraining holds. Although it looks like Kyle's nose is in an unfortunate place :)

mesoextreme said...


Your writing and summation of your father was an awesome piece of writing. It was from the heart and factual on what our kids go through with parents as law enforcement officers. THANK YOU and your family for sharing your Dad with the rest of us. We are ALL better for knowing and working with him.

L. Corey Sloan and family
Prior Chief of Police / Police Officer
City of Cameron, Missouri

Lori Sandy said...

Very nice and "touching."

Kyle said...

Thanks Kelsey, I appreciate your writing too. ( Being in a Blog with George Brett was cool also.) Thanks for taking the time to write it. I'm sure there are lots of Wife's, daughters, sons and extended family members of Uniform folks that identify with what you said. Thanks for being the kind of daughter that I never had to really worry about, unless you count flat tires and taking your expensive teeth into the lane against big girls, that was worrisome. Love ya.

Pink Pamalamma said...

Lovely tribute. Your dad sounds like a great man and father.