My wife’s Dad died this year from cancer. He was 93 years old. Her Mom passed away last year. She was 87. For the first time in our married lives—and of Lauree’s entire life—New Year’s Eve will not be spent with the extended family gathering around Mom and Dad (just Dad last year) at “the farm” in northwest Pennsylvania. It’s the end of an era, but not an end to their legacy.
I have many precious memories of Lauree’s parents. Before we were married—in fact before we even dated seriously, I would sometimes take bike rides in the country and stop by at the farm. I’ve always been a bit of a morning person (the opposite of Lauree), so while waiting for Lauree to get up I’d sit in the big country kitchen and talk to her Mom while she bustled around cooking, baking, canning, cleaning...whatever. There’s always lots to do in a farm kitchen (Lauree inherited her Mom’s great cooking skills). We would do the daily crossword puzzle together. Lauree’s Mom was sharp, and always interested in everything that was going on. I liked her, even as a teenager. We miss her.
Lauree’s Dad was quite different than her Mom. While her Mom could walk into a room full of strangers and just start up conversations with whoever was nearby, her Dad was a quiet man. He didn’t say a lot, but he loved deeply. When Lauree and I were young and money was tight, her Dad loaned us money to buy our first non-rental home—a trailer in a mobile home park. He loaned us money to buy a car. He refused to take interest, actually giving it back when we tried. He loaned money to other family members, in fact we joked about him being the family bank. He wasn’t rich, but he wanted to help.
Our kids loved to visit the farm. There was always something to do there and Grandma and Grandpa were there. They have special memories of playing in the hay loft, Easter egg hunts, New Year’s Eve celebrations, playing with the kittens, haying—the list goes on and on.
Just a couple of weeks before Lauree’s Dad died, our whole family went to see him. Though his health had declined considerably, he was still Dad. When we were getting ready to leave he recalled with us special memories he had of our kids. The scene is forever etched in my mind. He loved the kids. He loved his family. We loved him.
Lauree and her two sisters were at his bedside as he slept in the bed he shared with her Mom for more than 60 years when he took a deeper breath than usual then exhaled for the last time. He was gone. The patriarch of the family; a quiet, unassuming man that everyone respected, and everyone loved. I could not have asked for a better man for a Father-in-law.
His funeral focused on remembering his love. The family asked me to play my guitar and sing a country song I never heard of before, but one that captures the legacy he left behind—Long Line of Love. The song is the story of a family’s history of love between Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, and continuing into a new marriage between the son and his sweetheart. The chorus goes like this:
We come from a long line of love.
When times get hard, we don’t give up.
Forever’s in our hearts and in our blood.
You see we come from a long line of love.
Lauree comes from a long line of love. Those of us grafted in through marriage became part of that line—her Dad’s love was big enough for all of us. Lauree and I cried at his funeral. My daughter cried too. Even my two sons—one a young man in his mid twenties, the other still a teenager—wept openly. We’ll miss Lauree’s Dad.
His love is his legacy.