I really hate the initials FIL. They stand for father-in-law, and I don’t really feel that they represent how I feel about you. The word “Law” represents what is recognized in court, so I prefer Father-In-Marriage. Why? Because God sanctified my marriage and therefore forever sealed you, Papa, in my life through your son, Billy.
I went on a run this morning after 5 days of some serious grieving and processing. Running is where I relax. I know that it worried you and Sue at times that I always go so intense and obsessive with my sports. You knew I was very ADD….also very prone to ramblings and run on mouth. I know it drove you crazy at times and at others, when you were in that classic “Bill M.” form, we could talk and laugh until tears were rolling down our faces and we could not get words out. I loved our morning chats. I
want need, you to know that when I exercise, my brain slows down and I am able to think more clearly. It clears away the cobwebs that everyday life can coat so thickly with oppressive weight and it grounds me. That is why I do it, so no worries.
So, this morning, after an emotional send off to you this weekend and the days in its wake that had me close to losing it after writing your obituary, I finally ran. I ran hard, punishing my muscles, sweating and thinking of you and your beautiful life. I thought about how you stepped into the role of father to me 21 years ago when my own father passed on, and took over where he reluctantly left off. You did good, Papa. If he could thank you I know tears would be involved.
As I ran and the heaviness left me, I had the silly thought, that if you were a vegetable, it would be the wild, sweet onion. No, not because it stinks. See, I beat you to it! ;*) Nor because it makes you cry. No, it was because getting to know you was like pulling up a wild onion from the soft earth and peeling off the first sweet layer only to find another more beautiful, shimmering one underneath it. As a whole, those layers were opaque, but each one on its own was transparent and beautiful.
You were a man of so very many layers. Mostly there were layers of laughter and fun that bubbled up and tickled us like the effervescence of soda.
There were layers of love that you shared from the depth of your very soul. So very much love!! You were an affectionate and demonstrative man, which is rare indeed in this world. Your hugs were the best and Quinn has the best memories of making “Nap Forts” with you to slumber away the afternoons at the ranch. When we would get off the phone I would say “I love you” and you would say “Love YOU!’ every time.
As with any person, there were also layers of complexity that had us in tears with frustration. Just like your son, you had your quiet, and private ways at times that were difficult for those who loved you. We could get so very angry with your abrupt nature….your need for order and to be apart from us. But listen to me……it was a frustration fueled from disappointment because we wanted to be with you. We were drawn to you and loved you so much. We wanted to know each and every layer of your being because we had, so many times, peeled off the sweetest and most wonderful ones from your soul and we wanted more of those.
Over the years we created layer upon layer of memories, most wonderful and some hard, that formed a foundation upon which this beautiful family grew.
I had a moment of clarity as I looked around the room on the day of your 81st birthday, the day after you left us. You do know that we threw you a grand party with your Mama Woofie and almost all of your baby Woofies gathered for the first time in many years under the same roof? I’m pretty sure you were there. There was Mexican food and ice cream for Pete’s sake. Of course you were there!
Anyhow, I looked around at all the children, spouses, grand children and your little great-grand daughter and thought “One man started all of this.” It is amazing to me that a family this large began with you…a young, brilliant doctor with glasses who had a couple of children in his first marriage, then married the love of his life in Sue, gave us another beloved sister and from there things just multiplied into a family that, on your last day on earth, literally climbed onto your bed beside you to walk part of the way to Heaven with you. We were all there in that place that is neither here, nor there, but between….we were on Holy ground with you. I hope with all of my heart that you knew we were there and felt the absolute love present in that room as we took that walk in the clouds with you.
What an honor and pure blessing was granted to us to be present as God called you to join the chorus of angels and saints.
As we each start our walk on earth without you….missing you so much… we will remember all the layers of your beautiful heart that made you uniquely you, Papa.
A heart that was beautiful, complex and deep in its layers, but always transparent in love.
I’ll love you forever Papa.
Oh, and don’t forget to give my father a huge hug for me…one of those that neither of you can let go first. He’ll know it’s from me.