Sometimes the real story lies in how we face mortality and in those we leave behind.
Almost 20 years to the day after losing my own father, we said goodbye to my father-in-law this past weekend. Steve’s father was a man whose faith gave him peace and optimism, whose charm was reflected in his caregivers’ comfort, and whose love resides in the hearts of his grandchildren, one of whom sat by his side as he took his last breath, another of whom raced across the state so that she could see him before his physical self became part of the earth he loved, and two of whom walked with Tom’s sons one last time as they said goodbye to this simple and complicated man, a man who could simultaneously inspire both your laughter and your horror that you laughed.
Even as he lay dying, he joked, appreciated, expressed gratitude and looked forward to seeing those he’d loved and lost, while also assuring us that we too would be reunited one day. At times during the last few days in moments of quiet and peace, he seemed to have already moved on to a better place.
By no means a perfect man, my father-in-law was unabashedly true to himself. At all times and in all situations. He had no shame, which meant he would say anything to anyone, whether it was with love, disdain, humor or compassion. One never had to guess where they stood with him. Honestly, it’s no wonder he’ll live forever in the hearts of his grandchildren, for what better example for their lives than this?