When I think of heroes, a quiet, gentle man with a police badge comes to mind. I was three months old when my dad entered law enforcement. Over the years, he served as a lake ranger, patrol officer for small towns and large cities, sheriff deputy, and chief of police.
This month, my dad, who the locals call Officer Bartlett, retires from a 40-year law enforcement career. Not too shabby for a man who just celebrated his 70th birthday.
Lipreading Mom salutes all police officers, but especially Officer Dad. Here are my reasons.
- Dad was the first member of his immediate family to graduate high school and the first to attend college.
- When writing my first book, Lip Reader, I modeled the courageous police officer in the book after my dad.
- As I now write the sequel book to Lip Reader, a photograph of my dad as a young man still inspires the courageous police officer character.
- My three children know that when their Grandpa Bartlett comes to visit, they are guaranteed a 70-year-old devoted playmate.
- Dad and I were both raised as the middle child. He understands me.
- His favorite philosophy, which he often repeats in his sweet Oklahoma accent, has calmed the family many times: “It’ll all work out in the washin’.”
- He is the spitting image of the late actor Steve McQueen, the King of Cool. My Dad is cooler.
- Dad has earned the respect of not only every police or sheriff’s department he has worked for—but the mayors, city council members, and civic leaders.
- We both share the same sky blue eye color, Irish heritage, and hearing loss genes (Dad hears much better than I do, though). It makes for interesting conversations.
So thank you, Officer Bartlett, for faithfully executing the job of being my dad. I salute you today and always.