A couple weeks ago my amazing dad retired after 40 years with the same company.  I think that kinda makes him a legend. I don’t know anyone who stays with a company that long anymore.  Then again I don’t many companies that work to KEEP people that long anymore…but that’s a different post.

My mom threw a little shindig at the house on his last day and I wanted to make a speech, but everything I thought of made me cry because my dad is just so amazing and has given and sacrificed so much for our family.  Instead, though, I decided to go with something a little more light-hearted and to save all the mushy stuff for the wedding (38 days)!   Here is the story of how I found out what my dad REALLY did for a living.

(This is the speech copied word for word so please excuse the double intro)

So I really thought hard about what I was going to say today and in true Mark Hampson form I made a spreadsheet, drew several diagrams and even put together a powerpoint presentation on potential topics I could cover about my Dad and his successful career.  Instead, though, I decided that I would tell you the story of how I came to find out what my father did for a living.

It was 1996, I was 7, and we had moved here from Cairo, Egypt, and for as long as I can remember my dad had slept with this walking stick next to his bed.
It was an odd piece of decor, but I was 7 so who was I to question it? I had not discovered HGTV yet.   I had asked about the walking stick several times and my dad told where he bought it and that it was some kind of souvenir he had picked up on a business trip or in one of the many places he lived as a kid.  I don’t remember the specifics, but what I do remember was that he continually told me, ” Do not to play with it!”
So one day 7 year old Jessica wondered into my parent room and decided I was going to play with the walking stick.  I sat at the end of my parents bed and started fiddling with this gold ring close to the top of the stick.  After a couple twists of the ring I soon realized that the stick came apart and with one small tug I unveiled a giant sharp sword had been hiding in this “walking stick”.
In a panic, cause remembered then I shouldn’t have been playing with it, I quickly slammed it back together screwed the gold ring tight and placed the sword back by my father’s side of the bed and ran into my bedroom.  I shut my door and sat on my bed in shock for I finally knew his secret.
My dad…Mark Hampson…was a ninja.
He had us all fooled.  He claimed to of been driving 45 mins every day to this place called “Baker Hughes Inteq” Or “Baker Hughes Oil Tools”.  He really was a bad liar as the company change names like 6 times.  He even went on a secret mission and was put on a project called Project Renaissance.  I knew this was just code for a mission vs. the in-house task force he claimed it to be to my mom.
He then started having to do worldwide missions to Venezuela, England and other parts of South America to give training classes.  This all made sense to me cause these countries didn’t have very many ninjas so they needed to bring in some external resources.
Fast forward a year or two to a Christmas party where I was standing with my mom and a lady, whose husband also worked at “Baker Hughes”, said to my Mom, “I heard about Mark,  I am just so glad he is ok…”  My mom baffled and a little confused by this statement said “what?”.  The lady continued,  ” I heard about Mark getting mugged in Venezuela a couple weeks ago.”
Turns out a guy on a mope-head had driven by my dad on the streets of Caracas and stolen a gold pen my mom had given him out of his front pocket, ripping his shirt in the process.  The worst part?  He tried to hide the shirt and the story from my mom so she wouldn’t worry.
And that was the day folks, that I found out my mom was an assassin and my dad was next on her list…
Dad- you will forever be my ninja.  Congratulations on an amazing 40 year career.  I can’t wait to see what you and your dojo get up to next.
I love you dad and I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished in your career.  You have provided an amazing life for my sister, mom and me, but more importantly, you have been the greatest “life teacher” in the world.
Love you to the moon and back!