My Dad (In-Law)

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of In-Law jokes; usually negative. Horror stories about Mother-In-Laws or what have you mostly. I’ve never had any of those. 26 years ago, my bride to be’s parents accepted me into their family with open arms.

When I asked my soon to be Father-In-Law for his daughter’s hand, he accepted right away. He shared two pieces of wisdom with me at that time, “she could do worse, and has”, and “there will be times when you want to put her through a wall…. don’t”.

That good man, passed away today.

He was a Marine, a Veteran, a Father and a Husband. He embodied the Marine Corp mascot (the bulldog) in a lot of ways; but, to me, he was a guy who accepted me into his home, and his family in a way that made it clear that I was one of his own.

We did not have a lot in common, but I had a great deal of respect for him. He worked hard. He embodied a work ethic that earned the respect of those around him and a healthy amount of fear from any that opposed him.

When I met Roger, he was the shop steward at the Post Office where I worked. We were on opposite sides of one of those imaginary lines that unions are so fond of. He was the steward for the mail handlers union. I was not only a clerk, but a “casual clerk” or temporary help (a scab in the semi-official parlance). I was constantly in trouble with him because I was tasked with doing a job that was normally a mail handlers job. In addition to that I had a bad habit of hauling cages of mail across the building when they were full. A task that was definitely outside my bailiwick. I can still see him in my mind storming down the middle of the building to talk to my boss.

It was some time later that I would meet the girl that would one day make me a father. It would be even longer before I discovered that the two of them were related.

The day I first went to my then girlfriend’s house to pick her up for our “first date” (we had been friends at work for some time before that), her father met me at the door carrying a rifle. Only later would I discover that he had been cleaning them when I showed up.

When we went back to DC to go through the DC temple, Danielle’s parents went with us. We spent some time visiting the monuments while we were there. The day we were scheduled to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall, I was initially going to wear a tie-dyed t-shirt. I wondered if it would be seen as disrespectful by some because of its association with the hippies of the 60’s. I asked him about it and his response has always stuck with me. “We did what we did, so you could do what you want.” I didn’t end up wearing the shirt, but I appreciated his response and that he took the question seriously enough to respond.

When my daughter was born and my Bride and I were going to school and working, Roger would babysit. When we asked him not to talk “baby-talk” to her, he was immediately grateful and would sit and read fishing magazines to her. It was not a wonder that one of her first words was “fish”.

A good man has left this world. It was a long and painful trip, but he has returned home and is beyond pain. He will be missed. I will miss him.

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