We were not ready. But he was.
Saturday December 30th 2017, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Photo: my father-in-law at his granddaughter’s wedding last summer.

Now that the grandson in Chile has gotten the word I can share the story.

Christmas day, my husband called his father across the country to wish him a merry one. As one does. To his great surprise, his dad was only able to get out a few sentences and then gave out and ended the call.


Richard immediately called his brother, whom Dad was staying with for the holiday, and it turned out he’d been trying to talk Dad into going to the ER. But that was the last place Dad wanted to spend Christmas in.

The next day he simply took him in.

There was some hope of recovery that first day and maybe even the next, and Richard wanted his father to be allowed to make the decision whether he wanted him to fly in to see him in that condition: autonomy is a thing too easily taken away from the elderly. I wanted to book the ticket like right now and he wanted to honor his dad’s wishes whatever they might be and we both struggled over which was the most right way to look at the situation when, as the far-away kids, we knew the least.

You know when the phone rings at 2 a.m. your sister-in-law’s time it was not good news. But he was still with us.

Meantime, I confessed my dilemma to the good woman at University Electric that afternoon as she wrote up the sale and she moved us up in the queue and got that washing machine delivered the next day. (I went back today to buy an extended warranty and so I could tell her in person what a great job her installer had done. She was very happy and proud of him to hear that–but, she wanted to know, how was my father-in-law?)

Oh honey. Thank you. But…

Richard’s sister had called again in the dark hours our time yesterday morning: Dad had slipped away.

He had missed his wife. He had missed his daughter who died of cancer at 48. He was a good man and a funny man and I will forever remember as a kid asking my mom what that word meant when my father declared of his old friend, “He’s the most gregarious man I know!” (The most like Greg? Greg who?)

While Dad seemed past the point of being able to respond, his son-in-law at his bedside named each of Dad’s children and grandchildren by name and told him they loved him.

Spencer told us that when he said Mathias’s name, for the first time, Dad smiled. (Photo: Mathias’s first Christmas, playing with the box.)

That is a gift to my sweet grandson to carry forward for the rest of his life. I am so glad my daughter and her family made the trip from Alaska recently to let her Grampa meet her baby boy. While they still could. Because you never know.

10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

So very sorry to hear this. Please give my condolences to Richard, too.

The decision to go to someone is indeed a hard one. Steve’s father passed the day before he was due to fly out to see him.

Comment by Anne 12.31.17 @ 12:07 am

So sorry.

Comment by Jody 12.31.17 @ 4:11 am

My thoughts and prayers for all of you.

Comment by Afton 12.31.17 @ 4:21 am

Oh, Alison, I am so sorry. I am glad he got to hear that all his family love him. And that he got to meet Mathias. Family really are the most important people in our lives.

Comment by Pegi 12.31.17 @ 5:29 am

Knowing you are loved is the best gift we can give each other. So sorry for your loss. Prayers and good thoughts being sent out to both you and Richard.

Comment by chris 12.31.17 @ 6:48 am

Thinking of you–what a gift to hear the names of all who love you. So glad that happened before he died. Sending you a hug.

Comment by joanne 12.31.17 @ 7:53 am

For you, and all the family, may the happy memories comfort you now. And baby in a box is too cute. ?

Comment by DebbieR 12.31.17 @ 8:13 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy.

Comment by ccr in MA 12.31.17 @ 10:20 am

The words are never enough, but here they are: So sorry for your loss.

We lost my father in law in 2015, and he lived about a mile from us. In some ways it is harder to have someone that close. Either way, you did the best you could. Condolences.


Comment by Lisa Louie 12.31.17 @ 11:08 am

I am so sorry for your family’s loss. And so glad that Mathias could bring that smile to your father-in-law’s face, for both of them, and really, all of the family.
Blessed be.

Comment by twinsetellen 01.02.18 @ 8:20 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>