Husband, Christian, Artist, Singer, Musician, …and Daddy.
To say I’m not close to my own father is, well,… the father of all understatements. But, I was blessed to have a father-in-law who made sure I knew I was loved. This week, with no warning, my loving gentle father-in-law passed away. Our family is left in a state of pain and disbelief. I want to share about the amazing man who, in many ways, was the backbone of our family.
I met my father-in-law when I was twelve. Actually, I met him the same day I met my husband. When I was twelve, he was ‘Mr. Gary’. When Liam and I began to date, Mr. Gary became Gary. After we married and had kids, he became Granddaddy. I never called him Dad or Daddy, even though he was certainly the father in my life. When he called, he always started conversations with, “Hey there! This is Dad.” It always made me smile, not only because this caring wonderful man thought of himself as my dad, but because there was no way anyone could mistake his deep mellow voice. Although once upon a time, I did.
When we were young and cell phones hadn’t taken over the world, Liam went to stay with his parents. I called their home phone and a deep voice answered with my husband’s customary, “Heeello!” I immediately responded with, “Hey, Sexy!” There was a resounding pause, a chuckle, and a deep gravely, “Before you say another word, you need to know who you’re talking to!” I think my blush might have been audible through the phone!
Gary was always ready with advice, support, a parent’s need to solve my problems, a heartfelt hug (that often ended with my hair velcro-ed to his five o’clock shadow), and a “we love y’all”. I’m so grateful for the love he showed and the value he made me feel. Far beyond his paintings, he was a wonderful artist. His daily life, love for his family, kindness to others, and absolute adoration of his wife painted the most beautiful portrait of the love of Christ.
I’m grateful for every hug, every story, and every “I love you.” I’m so very thankful, he welcomed me into his family and his heart, but there are many other things for which I’m grateful. You see, I know I owe him more.
- I owe him for every time my husband has chosen to look past my faults and love me anyway.
- I owe him for every door Liam has opened in the last thirty years.
- I owe him for every shopping bag that’s been taken from my hand with an “I’ve got it.” or “It’s my job”.
- I owe him for every tear my husband has wiped away, every sadness soothed, and all the laughs we’ve shared.
- I owe him for every time that redhead’s temper has flared and Liam’s jaw muscles started to clench, because, someone dared hurt my feelings.
- I owe his artist’s heart for my husband’s appreciation of beauty and willingness to simply stand basking in a perfect sunset.
- I owe my father-in-law (and equally amazing mother-in-law) for every prayer prayed in my home.
- I owe Gary for giving me a husband whose favorite place is by my side.
- I owe him for the loving, protective, and Godly father my children have.
Although I would (we would) give anything for one more ramble through an antique shop, one more slow deliberate story, one more hymn sing-a-long, one more heartfelt hug or I love you, I know I’ll see him again. Not only in a Heavenly setting, but I’ll see him on a small farm in East Texas. I’ll see him in the love, humor, occasional (very protective) temper, and gentleness of my family. Gary’s artistic heart and Godly spirit shaped them all. I’m proud to see him shining from my husband and children. I’m also proud that for thirty years, I got to share an amazing Daddy.
When I’m stressed or sad, I tend to write poetry. The structure gives me the chance to distract myself and the creative task helps me work through my emotions. I’m one of those people who has trouble allowing myself to feel and express emotion. So, in order to avoid it building up and causing eventual meltdowns, I write my way through the hard times. Below you’ll find the poem I wrote the morning after my father-in-law’s death. Please, take the time to call, hug, and tell your loved ones how you feel about them.