This past week was one for memories and tributes to a special man. This man in my life passed away the week before. We celebrated his memorial this past Friday. He was not famous or super wealthy in the way the world looks at wealth. He was wealthy in happiness, humor, and family.
This man was my father-in-law. I must say I was lucky in the in-law department. My in-laws are great people. They have accepted and loved me for almost thirty years. There are lots of them. They brought a sense of crazy, over-whelming family to my life.
I had one sister who passed away when she was seventeen. My husband has five siblings who are active and alive. I am blessed to be included in this world of sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and cousins. I have some cousins on my side but we are not close. I would never have nieces and nephews to love and aggravate without my in-laws. This is part of what, this man brought to my life.
Without him I would not have my husband or my children. It would all be different I’m sure. Maybe it would be similar…or worse…or better…if I had chosen a different man than my husband. I am glad I did not choose a different path.
It’s not been easy. But these people called in-laws made it better including, this patriarch who raised them. He made me feel welcome from the beginning. Before my husband asked me to marry him, this man made me part of the family. I could never be as eloquent as his daughter in giving the eulogy; I will just speak from my heart. He became family to me. It’s not an easy thing to do with me. He was himself and accepted me for myself. He did not change. He was steadfast.
I have grown recently. It struck me during his service on Friday. I have hated funerals since the sudden and wrenching death of my sister. I avoided funerals. I cried when I saw the families in so much pain. I cried for them and myself. I hated seeing and being immersed in so much pain. I did not have to know the person who died. I still wept. It was different on Friday. I only shed a few tears. Watching my family letting go caused me to be sad for them and myself. Death always seemed a cheat, a thief. So unfair we could not choose our end. Many times there is pain within change. Here the change is wrought from many years of pain. However, I have not wept for my father-in-law. I have not resented the taking. Here is why.
His death was the long slow quiet death of Alzheimer’s. It was so hard to slowly lose him over the last few years. I felt he slipped away from us many moons ago. In this case I understand death as a release, a freedom. I believe in an afterlife. It is good, we will see him again. I have come a long way from selfish girl to understanding a little more. I have a higher power in charge from the beginning to the end.
I am happy-sad. Sad for us left behind to wait; to again hear his quips making us laugh, and advice to move us forward. I am happy for him. This virile active man, who worked well into his seventies, is now free from his physical restraints. He is hale and whole. He is with the love of his life in a special place I call heaven. Thank you my Lord for this man and this change in my soul.
Godspeed dearest gent, make those angels laugh, and enjoy eternity till we join you!