That's a hell of an opener isn't it? I think he's sixty-three years old. Yeah, think. For some reason I think he was born '57. I say that because my aunt was born in '57 and I'm pretty sure they would have graduated together.
He dropped out. He would have graduated with her I think.
He dropped out because his dad died. That's what I was told. There was the farm there was no dad he dropped out. That's it.
My husband grew up with his dad. His mom exited when he was very young. She made her choices and left. We can judge mothers all day for this but until you know the situations you should really keep your mouth shut. I learned that the hard way, I guess. But this post isn't about a mom in 1985. Its about my father-in-law.
To say I married a daddy's boy is a slight understatement. His dad has been his hero, his number one, his go-to for as long as he's been alive. He was with him through single dad times, married dad times, dirty divorce dad time, etc etc etc.
They have memories that I know nothing about. They have a history that is deeper than deep and bruised and also filled with immense dad/son laughter that I could never understand.
Never, ever could I comprehend.
This world is small and this county is smaller. My dad knew his dad when I would have been very tiny and my husband would have a been a year tinier than me. They played golf together on Sundays. That really translates to a bunch of rednecks on the golf course killing Budweiser and smoking cigarettes and probably saying words not fit for Sunday.
I only learned this nugget of information after I shared that I had met my husband.
The first time I met my father-in-law he was smiling. He looked like a scruffier version of Sam Elliott. But that's only because he has matching hair on his head and the same facial hair. And they are both pretty small guys.
He didn't say much at all and neither did I.
I don't remember my first thoughts of him. I guess I was indifferent because this was a just a guy I was dating (his son) and it probably wouldn't amount to much.
Much to our surprise that first meeting would lead to fourteen years of knowing one another. And still fourteen years of not much talking.
But I like that.
Here's what you may not know about me - I prefer quiet over mindless banter. I'm just fine in a silent room than in a busy one. If there are no words then there are no words and there is no problem whatsoever with that. Sometimes its good to just be.
I think he felt that way too.
The father-in-law that I knew...what do I remember most?
I remember him being the best man on the day I walked down the aisle to marry his son. And now I realize what a big deal that was. He suffered from social anxiety and I did not really know this until a year or two later. He could not stand a crowd and it just so happened we had a crowd of about eighty in the church that day. But he did it. He stood there beside his boy. He held it together.
I remember him loving that first grandchild of his. Our daughter. The thing about scruffy dudes that are dads is that they generally become mush when a baby is around. But that baby has to be of some relation to them! I remember the night she was born and when he held her. There is a look that comes over a new grandparent - I saw it on my mama's face, my dad's face, and my father-in-law's face.
It was the same look that he had when he held our second child, his second biological grandkid - a boy.
I remember him having some hard times and him asking me to help him a little. He was embarassed but sometimes we hit a rough patch, no matter who we are, and we help each other. I couldn't get what he lost back but I could help him not get in that situation again.
I took a job teaching at the community college. He signed up and took the class. It was how to opearate Windows. The class was filled with his peers and they were more afraid of those desktops than kids of the boogie man. But we had fun. He was a good one for me to pick on during class...and he didn't mind.
Our early years in our marriage were riddled with bumps. My father-in-law kept his dad perspective and when his son didn't want to man up he treated him like a boy and reared him back up to closer to being a man. I know that this paragraph sounds harsh but I promise you my husband would agree.
He never hated me. If you know my in-laws then you know that that is a big statement.
My father-in-law was a very simple person. He wasn't brilliant, he wasn't reaching for stars, he stayed in his lane. He enjoyed his son and his cows and time on his tractor. He liked to go to Topsail and ride bikes. He liked pizza but was a meat and potatoes guy. He enjoyed playing basketball back in the day with his son and his motley crew of friends. He loved to watch the kids unwrap their presents on Christmas Eve. He also enjoyed sitting in the beating down sun watching that first grandkid play softball even though he was undergoing some trying chemo treatments. And I remember a freezing morning last fall when he came out and took on way too many steps to watch the youngest grandkid run around like a wild hooligan on the soccer field.
The man loved Pepsi like no one else I have ever known in this world.
He always had a pot of coffee on (we were born to be friends.)
He had his chair and he had his ways.
My father-in-law is dying. He's in a hospital bed in intensive care with one lung in his thoracic cavity. The other one was removed nine months ago. The one that remains cannot manage and is riddled with bacteria and fungus. An internal vent has been placed inside him.
My father-in-law - the quiet man. Of all the things I can write in this post or say in person I just want him to know I respected his ability to quietly take it all in. I enjoyed his quips when he did decide to say something. I'm thankful for his son because God knows I would be bored if he hadn't had that boy.
Today as I type this I send up a prayer to the God I revere and the one that he denied - have mercy on that man and let him just be so that he can have peace.