If you’ve read anything of mine before, you know of my deep affection and love for my dad. What I haven’t written about is my father in law or I guess, my ex father in law, or perhaps better, my ex husband’s dad. You see, I will always think of him as my father in law. From the moment I met him, helping to lift my car out of a bad situation. And yes I do mean lift, it was 1988 and he was strong. I didn’t know who he was. Just a kind man with a bit of a pommy accent helping me in a church carpark. I was just 18, not a good driver….But I remember him.
If you know me personally then you know to whom I’m referring and if you don’t, that’s ok. Out of respect to him and his family I won’t be naming names.
I was truly blessed to be his daughter in law. Even after I was divorced from his son, there was kindness between us. I will always know that the last time I saw him, our farewell was with a big squeeze of a hug and a ‘love you’ from each of us to the other; just like we always had. I didn’t know then, it would be the last time, but I’m glad it was such a loving moment. Not only did it show love, it showed forgiveness. His son’s marriage to me was over but we were still family. Such a man of grace.
Last year he died; four days before Father’s Day. I don’t know all the details, I know he went to hospital for heart surgery. I know he didn’t live long afterwards. It was heartbreaking, unfair, and it still seems so wrong.
My two sons were with me on Father’s Day last year. My dad had a rotten cough, he was home, tucked up, getting better. We went to visit my mum. She was in hospital. She’d heard about my boys’ grandpa’s death. My mum was sad about it. She sent her condolences and love with my boys as they went interstate for the funeral. I was asked to not attend. I don’t think it was how my father in law would have wanted it but he wasn’t there to guide the rest of the family through the grief. He would have been open and gracious. Of that I’m certain. So much so that I asked my brothers and my sisters in law to be prepared for when my mum would go. Mum had been sick for a long while. We knew she would die soon. Just not how soon. Only 16 days later Mum slipped peacefully away in her sleep. She was home, out of hospital, had a brilliant dinner and been to the theatre that week too. The death notice of my Mum that went in the paper, included all the family, wife, sister, mother to my brothers and I, Nanna to six beautiful grandchildren and mother in law to three, including her son in law.
Out of a heart of forgiveness from my father in law, I wanted to celebrate my Mum’s life with openness and forgiveness too.
So here we are at Father’s Day this year. My Dad has always been good and kind and so supportive of me. I’ll give him a quick call to remind him he’s the best dad I ever had, just like we always do. He never liked Father’s Day. Too many sad memories of a childhood of divorce; a rare thing in those days and being shunted around. My father in law was one of those ‘salt of the earth’ people. His gracious kindness to me was constant. I’m truly blessed to have had him in my life and sad he’s not around still.
But my Dad: I’m so lucky he’s still here. So very lucky to have had the amazing trip through Europe with him this year. Excited to know that he has suggested plans for us to go to Maxim’s in Paris, next time. Next time….what precious words.
And so til next time, as the sun comes back again, spring is sprung, I’m lucky enough to still have my Dad, my boys, and my precious puppy Tiggy.
However you remember Father’s Day this year. I hope you feel some connection and love. Even if it’s a hard day for you, it is a bit hard for me too. But you’re strong and we are brave.