Friday, August 22, 2014

TToT40: Loss

My family lost a good man this week.

There have been events to attend, people to greet, and stories to tell.

Themes have emerged, the finest traits this man possessed: compassion, good humor, intelligence, love of family and friends, and many others.

I only knew this man for ten years. I did not know him as a bright but unengaged student, or as  a man who traveled the country working for political campaigns, or a press secretary to powerful men. I didn't know the details of the bills he helped write, or the work he did spreading democracy worldwide, or the classes he taught in his retirement years. I knew him primarily as a father-in-law and grandfather. And I am thankful for those ten years.

I do not believe my father-in-law ever met a person he could not like. People the rest of his family would avoid, he embraced for the good he found in them. He was an example of how to make the world a better place by spreading kindness. He lived for society, and he found good in every person he ever met. He accepted me into his family without question; I was his daughter, not his daughter-in-law.

He could never stand for someone to be unhappy. If others were putting a person down, he would step up to defend that person. He did this for me once when I was feeling alone and misunderstood. He didn't make a fuss, but in my presence and others', he spoke up for me. One small statement that meant, "I'm with Sarah; if you're against Sarah, you're against me, too." There was more, also, that I didn't know at the time. Emails in which he defended me. He may not have agreed with me 100%, but he was sure going to assume the best about me. I was family.

He did not give limited compliments. If you did something he considered kind or resourceful or admirable, he was unstinting in his praise. You were absolutely the best he'd ever known. Scrambling an egg, oiling a hinge, assembling a piece of furniture--these were absolutely astonishing skills in his mind, and no one else could have done it better.

He loved his grandchildren profoundly. He was devoted to them as babies and would eagerly volunteer to be the walker, until his shirt was soaked with drool and the baby was asleep. Whereas I watched for milestones with some impatience, I believe he witnessed them with some disappointment. Every crawl, climb, or step subtracted a little time from holding and cuddling. Nevertheless, his praise at each milestone was absolute. There was never a  baby more amazing, more impressive, more talented!

As he got older and slower, his pace matched my children's so perfectly. They walked to the park at the same speed and got just as excited as each other at the sight of a squirrel or a leaf blower or their shadows. He would sit and read the same books all the other adults had gotten sick of, and he'd feed spoonful after boring spoonful of puree long after I'd moved to serving small chunks of fruits and vegetables. He was more than happy to make sound effects on demand and flip the light switch over and over and over long after everyone else had left the room in annoyance.

This was a good man. We mourn his absence but celebrate his life.

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  1. Oh, sniff.... what a wonderful tribute... really heartfelt. He looks so happy holding the baby... thinking of you and your family... so hard to lose someone so close... Im sorry , Sarah! Take care, xo z

    1. He was always so happy holding a baby. Thanks for your kind words, Z.

  2. Oh Sarah, this is such a beautiful post. He sounds like such a very, incredibly, amazingly Good man. And you are lucky to have had those ten wonderful years of knowing him. This is an awesome tribute, and I'm very sad you've lost such an amazing chap :(

  3. Condolences, Sarah. He was a man who clearly left a legacy of kindness and compassion that endures. My thoughts and prayers.

  4. What a beautiful tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss and hope you find solace in these lovely memories.

  5. Oh, Sarah, I'm so sorry for your loss! This is a gorgeous tribute to your father in law, one I'd bet he didn't think he deserved (but he'd be wrong). Big cyber hugs to you and yours.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to your father-in-law is beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. May your wonderful memories of the man sustain you.

  7. Oh Sarah, I am so sorry to hear this. I'll be praying for your family. How fortunate you are to have known him and be a part of his family for those 10 years. He sounds like a marvelous man to know.

  8. I'm so, so sorry for your loss, Sarah! But I love how you celebrated your father-in-law's life here. He must have been a wonderful person! I hope you all find consolation in sharing his life with each other.

  9. You already know how much you all have been in my thoughts and prayers of late, this week especially.
    He sounds like one of the greats - I would like to have introduced him to my Grandfather. Something tells me they would have gotten along famously. :D
    Hugs to all of you. XOXOXO

  10. Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. You wrote a beautiful, lovely tribute. He sounds like a wonderful man.

  11. I am so sorry for your loss - this was truly a beautiful tribute, it is evident that his spirit lives on in you and your family. sending you my deepest sympathies and condolences to you and your family.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. What beautiful words you've written here in tribute to such a generous man. I'm sure your family appreciates having them written down here. Take care in the days and weeks ahead.

  13. Sarah, I am so sorry for your family's loss. This reminded me so very much of my own father in law who we lost in 2010. He had so many of the same incredible traits and was a great, great man. If you are lucky like I am, your husband will carry on those same wonderful traits. How blessed you are to have had such a wonderful man for those ten years. I will keep your family in my thoughts.

  14. How fortunate that you knew this wonderful man for as long as you did. I am sure that you will always remember his goodness and your memories of him can only make you smile. Take care of you and yours in the coming weeks, you will need each other to carry through.

  15. Oh Sarah!! This is just so beautiful!! What a man. Oh what an incredible man he was. I am so deeply sorry for your loss- and so filled with joy for the gift of having someone like this in your life! I can only imagine his son is just like him. :)


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