Though you won’t read this until Wednesday, January 16, I’m writing it on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. January 15, 2018 feels like yesterday, and I find it hard to believe an entire 365 days have passed already. On this day, one year ago, our family sat in a church and said goodbye to one of the most beloved human beings I have ever known. Even writing that, I have to squint to see through my tears. Some wounds take a long time to heal. Some never do.
The Italian novelist, Umberto Eco, once said,
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom.”
If that is the truth, and I believe it is, then my father-in-law taught us a great many things. He taught us to work hard. He taught us to love life. He taught us to never give up. He taught us to believe in ourselves. He taught us that family always comes first. He taught us to never be too proud to do a job yourself, no matter how dirty. He taught us that God can be found in the most unlikely of places. Most of all, he taught us to laugh–at the world, at our problems, at ourselves.
I grew up hearing people on television make fun of, avoid, and speak ill about their in-laws, and it was never anything I understood. My father and his father-in-law were the best of friends. My father still weeps when he talks about what a wonderful man my grandfather was, what a wonderful friend. I saw their bond and wondered if they were unique or if Hollywood just thought it was funny to act like all in-laws were the kin of satan.
When I became engaged, friends warned me about the power struggle between daughters-in-law and mothers /fathers-in-law. I prayed that I would get along with Ken’s family, that we would love each other no matter what, that we would see past pettiness and be able to enjoy good times together. I hoped for a kind of friendship with Ken’s family–perhaps something like what my father and grandfather had.
What I got was a real, true second set of parents, and not the kind who ground you or tell you what you do wrong or expect you to do everything the way they want it done. I got the kinds of parents I already had. They are kind and loving, fun to be around, and people I genuinely love to spend time with. At the center of the family, for so many years, was Ken’s father, David.
He was never “David” to me. He was always, “Dad.” Almost as much a father to me as my own dad, and that’s saying a lot. I could call on Dad for just about anything, and I did.
When another driver ran a red light and totaled my car, and Ken didn’t have a cell phone (because none of us did back then), I called Dad.
When our oldest daughter was flown to shock trauma after being hit in the head with a baseball bat, and the entire county police force was trying to track down Ken, I called Dad.
Whenever something broke, and Ken was out of town, I called Dad. Or when I needed more firewood. Or when a snowstorm hit, or I needed help hauling some treasure home from the auction.
Dad came to pick us up when Hurricane Isabel hit, and our town was so flooded, we had to leave in a rowboat.
Dad came to help set up and decorate for every celebration, however big or small.
Dad built much of the furniture in our first house and the original kitchen in the house we live in now.
Dad “stopped by to bring the girls some doughnuts.” Mind you, he lived 45 minutes away, but he “stopped by” just the same.
Dad became the rock I leaned on when Ken was traveling. He held me when I cried for my grandmother after she passed. He sat next to me in the hospital when the doctor gave Rebecca 11 stitches.
Dad once walked across the field hockey field, minutes before the last game of the season was the begin, just to give Morgan a Hershey Bar and a hug.
Dad once convinced the girls to eat dog food because it “tastes like candy.”
Dad once won “big” at the casino, spent all of his winnings to buy ice cream sundae ingredients, and invited all the grandkids over to celebrate his win.
Dad must have owned fifteen Coast Guard Academy t-shirts and hats, that he wore EVERYWHERE, just so he could tell people that his grandson was there.
One Easter, dad showed up with PVC pipes formed into “guns” and taught all the kids how to shoot marshmallows at everyone.
And now, a full twelve months after we told him goodbye, I still feel like he’s going to walk in the door any minute with a box of doughnuts, a handful of candy bars, or a homemade cheese danish.
Dad was never a man of great means, but he gave all he had to anyone who needed it. Proverbs 13:22 tells us that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” It’s not referring to gold or silver or a fancy house or an estate or trust fund. A true inheritance is a lasting legacy–the knowledge that you were loved, the understanding of how to love others, and the wisdom it takes to live a truly good and fruitful life. Ken’s father left us all a mountain of wealth. Like author, Ruth E. Renkel said, “Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.”
We love you Dad, and we miss you. Every single day.
What I was writing about a year ago this week: It’s Not Enough.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018.
Amy’s next novel, The Devil’s Fortune, will be released in March of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).