Thursday, April 21, 2011
My father-in-law died late last night.
His role in my life began in 1993, when he made the decision to take early retirement from Westinghouse (now Northrup Grumman). I had already dated his daughter once a few years earlier. One ex-girlfriend and a few other what-might-have-beens later, Sandy and I were rebuilding our friendship. Anyway, he and my mother-in-law opted to take the early out money and move to Reno, Nevada. We stopped over their house as they were holding a yard sale at their old Catonsville house; I got hold of a desk of theirs. One of the catalysts for my relationship with Sandy was her invitation to come visit them with her after they'd moved.
When we visited them, I found out he didn't mind throwing down a buck or two at the casinos, although he stuck mainly with slots and video poker: I don't remember him playing many table games. He also showed us that many of the casinos had great restaurant deals, and the first place he took us was the steakhouse at Western Village in Sparks. We would visit him and my MIL in Reno several times over the years.
My FIL was always a pithy man. He and my MIL took many trips Back East to see family and for their own sake; their typical itinerary involved Baltimore, Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Lancaster County, PA. He loved going to Jennings Restaurant in Catonsville for chicken, and G&M's in Linthicum for crab cakes. We met them once at Willow Valley Resort outside Lancaster, and that was when I asked him for his permission to marry Sandy. His response was, "Well, I don't see why not; you two are mature adults . . . Hey, what do you think about the Notre Dame game this afternoon?"
At the wedding, I practically had to make him give me a hug after he walked Sandy up the aisle. At the reception, MIL told us via the videographer, "And I hope you have lots and lots of grandchildren!" He replied, "Shouldn't they have children first?"
We enjoyed taking walks together, usually just around the neighborhood or a nearby lake. And we would talk about mostly sports or politics, nothing too deep (as if the Willow Valley conversation wasn't an indication of that). And he surprised us all by taking us to Hawaii in 2005; it was a surprise 45th anniversary present for my MIL, and as an added surprise, he brought us along. We treated it as an early 10th anniversary trip.
In early 2008, we decided to move to Nevada. Almost immediately afterward, we found out he had colorectal cancer, which made our moving out here all the more necessary. Sandy is their only child. The four of us dined together frequently, and we also took them to a Reno Aces baseball game.
His condition steadily worsened over the last month. Just under two weeks ago, as he began hospice care, we managed to take him and MIL to the Western Village steakhouse . . . the same place he'd taken us back in 1993.
That was the last time I saw him alive. Now I pray for the repose of his soul.
In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.