Monday, March 01, 2010

Regrets... the Frank Sinatra hit, "regrets, I've had a few..." - I'm here to share a major regret. We've all had 'em. Things un-done, un-said, left to either fix themselves or remain broken. I don't think anyone over 40 has had any occasion to say that he or she has lived "exactly" the life that was dreamed of. I know I haven't, and I'm a decade+ over 40. My father-in-law died on Saturday. He had fought a long battle with Parkinson's disease and when we were there to see him in the summer, Hubby was very concerned about him. At that point, we could see deterioration, and frankly - during one lunch, I thought he died. After being rushed to the hospital, we found that he hadn't been able to ingest enough food or liquid, and the difficult decision to put him into a facility where he could receive 24-hour care was made. His wishes weren't in that direction, but I can't see him wanting his lovely wife to have to struggle to take care of him. The kids are far-flung and not always able to be home for long periods of time. We staggered our trips during the summer and all of us did what we could. I'm no good with sick people, so I cooked and cleaned. Not that I'm any great shakes with cleaning, either, but I can weed the garden, cook meals, clean up a kitchen and vacuum. My in-laws are lovely people. They're patient, kind, they accepted me into the family without a single qualm. I've heard so many horror stories about in-laws that I was hesitant. They were far away and didn't meet me till just about the week of the wedding! What would they think? My father-in-law opened his arms to the boys and said, "Come here and hug your Grandpa." Still brings tears to my eyes. He was a mechanic. Worked hard all his life. Provided for a large family on a small income and every one of the kids got a great education and has made something of himself or herself. My regret is simply this. We never spent a lot of time with them. Being 3,000 miles away is one excuse. Money is always another - it costs a lot of money to fly 4 people out west and we only had the kind of jobs where you got 2 weeks vacation if you were lucky. I never spent much time on the phone with them. Heck - I never felt comfortable calling them any particular names! But they accepted me and didn't bat an eye. Regrets are hard. Now, I am going to a funeral for a man who, by all accounts, was a simple guy - the kind of guy my grandpa would have loved. A guy who did what he needed to do to provide for his family and who showed the family that hard work is what you do. He taught more by example than anything else. And I missed it. Because of my own ambivalence, because of distance, because of I-don't-know-what. There will be stories told at the wake and funeral. There's an extensive family history, and there are pictures galore. But I will be sad to know that I barely remember the sound of his voice, and have only a faint knowledge of a guy with a wicked sense of humor and a peace and serenity about him that you don't see all the time. I wish now that I had been less of an idiot. And more of a daughter-in-law. Rest in peace, dear father-in-law.

1 comment:

FlourGirl said...

You expressed some lovely sentiments about your dear father in law. I'm sure he heard them. :)