As I am sitting and writing this, my heart is broken. This week, I lost a very important person in my life. Until his passing, I don't think I ever really understood how much my father-in-law (Mickey) meant to me. Right now, my heart breaks for my mother-in-law...she has lost her husband and best friend of 56 years....it breaks for my wife because she has lost her father...and for my children who lost the grandfather that helped raise them.
My parents were separated and divorced early in my life and MY grandfather became the major "father figure" in my life. He passed away only weeks after our wedding and it was, arguably, the most difficult moment of my life. My wife helped me deal with something I had prayed would never happen, but knew that eventually it would. We bonded in a way that I'll never be able to explain...but something else happened as well. As my life with my new bride grew, my relationship with her father did as well.
One thing that has always stuck with me, and I mention this with warmth and love...Mickey never tried to be a replacement for my dad or my grandad, but what he did do was take me into his family and make me feel like I'd been a member for my whole life. He and I were as different as daylight and dark...he grew up in the country...I grew up in the city...he was never interested in sports (...except when one of his grandkids were playing)...I've been involved in sports my whole life...We DID share a love of westerns and John Wayne, but we differed on politics, religion, and a host of other topics...but that didn't matter, because he NEVER made me feel like my opinion didn't matter. I remember, more than once, my mother-in-law and wife telling us to hush or take a walk if our "discussions" got a little too spirited.
As it turns out, no matter what was said, or how spirited these discussions were, he never let it affect our relationship and he certainly NEVER held a grudge. The fact is, the next time I would see him or talk to him, it was like nothing had ever happened. That's just the kind of man he was. He never held it against me because I couldn't chop firewood, or use his bush hog to clear the field, or because I didn't share his passion for growing a garden.
My fondest thoughts of Mickey are his unyielding devotion to his wife, his love of his children (and their children), and his simple, practical approach to life. I don't mean that in a derogatory way. You always knew where you stood with him...he didn't beat around the bush...he told you like it was. His faith and love of God was without question, and he taught me much about the way a husband and father should conduct himself. This will live in my heart until my dying day.
One more thing that I want to say...from my heart...Thank you Mickey for being a part of my life, not just for what you taught me and how you influenced me. Thank you for my wife and our children! They are a living continuance of you and I can think of no greater tribute to you...my friend forever! I will miss you, but you will always be in my heart!
PEACE & LOVE
Husband, father, sinner saved by the Grace of God, old teacher, wood-worker, bad golfer, USM Golden Eagle (forever) and MSU Bulldog lover (It's a daughter thing)