October 5, 2010

Some Things I Learned from my Father-in-Law

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

Linda and I started dating when I was a senior in high school; she, a junior. It wasn’t too long after we began dating that I learned a few things about her dad. As I brought Linda home rather late one Friday night, he emerged from the house as we pulled in the driveway. Before I had shifted into “Park”, he was sitting in the car with us.

“The day”, he said very matter-of-factly, “ends at midnight.”

I learned that this was not subject to discussion or negotiation. It just “was”.

And I learned that principle mattered to him.

As Linda and I spent more time together, I began to learn more about her family. Her parents were unable to have children when they married…and, after 13 years of marriage, she was adopted as their first child. They adopted her sister about 15 months later.

And, several years later, their perseverance was honored as they were blessed to be expecting a son of their own. Two years after that, they were expecting again. Another son.

And I learned that faithfulness mattered to him.

Before long, I was invited to join them for dinner. Always a family affair, dinner time was among the most important of family events at their house. Everyone was expected to be there. Everyone was expected to share about their day. And everyone was expected to stay at the table for devotions

And I learned that family togetherness mattered to him.

His Bible was well worn – tattered, some might say. Devoted to prayer and daily reading of the scriptures, he was exemplary in spiritual leadership to his family. I learned that he sang tenor in a gospel quartet. I learned that he was actively involved in the leadership of his church.

And I learned that his faith in God was profoundly important to him.

A US Postal Service letter carrier for 40 years, he spent the first thirty years walking twelve miles a day delivering mail. Instead of retiring after 30 years, he switched to a rural mail route and worked for 10 more. He was my mailman long before he was “my girlfriend’s dad”…long before he became my Father-in-Law.

And I learned that he really disliked Minnesota winters.

Asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage, I learned that he wasn’t too excited about having the first of his flock leave the nest. But I also learned he welcomed me as another son into his family.

And as our own nest began to grow, I learned that he loved being a grandpa.

Two days before his 77th birthday in late July, Grandpa Pete was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Weekly visits home lasted only five. We were at his side as he breathed his last. I waited until the funeral director came to the hospice house; Linda and her mom had gone home, spent. In the quiet of that room, I paused to ponder the faithfulness of this couple who were told they could not have children nearly 56 years ago.

With four of their own, four more of us who married into the family and ten grandkids, I was reminded of what I had learned from him a long time ago: they have been truly blessed.

And so have I.

Remember Well.

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