Monday, March 17, 2008


Growing up, St. Patrick's Day was the day my grandma made corned beef and cabbage and forced me to eat the vile concoction. As I got older, I never thought much about it. I always made sure I wore green in high school so I didn't get pinched, but that was about it. And then, I met my husband...

I didn't realize until I met Mike's dad what an EVENT!!!! March 17th was. Mike's family is Irish and his dad always took St. Patrick's Day very seriously. It seemed bigger than Christmas, or even his own birthday. He loved a good party, or a good reason to party, and therefore, St. Patrick's Day was perfect for him.

In January of 2006, my husband's step-mom gave us a call with news that my father-in-law wasn't doing well. He was in the hospital with pretty severe intestinal issues and wasn't expected to live. We rushed to Kansas City to see him, knowing that every minute things were getting worse and that we may very well never see him alive again.

However, when we arrived, he was still alive--unconscious, but alive. His liver and kidneys were failing due to the large amount of poisons that had spilled into his blood from the intestinal problems. The prognosis was grim, he was on life support, and after a couple of days, Mike and his step-mom were forced to make the decision to take him off life support.

You see, my father-in-law loved two things in his life: alcohol and his family. Unfortunately, he couldn't see that the alcohol was alienating him from his family and he missed out on a lot of things in my husband's life because of that. The alcohol that he loved so much ended up being his demise because it has damaged his liver so much, his body couldn't help him recover from the intestinal problems.

As we stood next to his bed watching his last breaths of life, I watched my husband sob as he grieved the loss of a man that he loved and wanted so much more from. Not more materially, but more in the area of a relationship. I prayed silently that God would spare my children the grief of ever having to watch me die and that he would take Mike's dad quickly because I wasn't sure if Mike could watch this for very long. And, within 10 minutes, with everyone he loved surrounding his bed, my father-in-law passed away.

My relationship with him was cordial, but not close. Until recently, I didn't realize how angry I was with him for letting his son down. All Mike ever wanted was a close relationship with his dad and he didn't have that.

I am a terrible packrat, which Mike hates, but the other day as I was going through old cards that I'd saved, I ran across the card his dad had given him when we graduated from college. I opened it and there was his precise, all capital lettered handwriting stating how proud he was of Mike and that even though he hadn't been the best dad, Mike was the best son in the world. My heart hurt as I read it and I was so thankful that it wasn't ever thrown away. Because that proclamation is all my husband has to know how his dad felt about him.

So, here I sit on a rainy St. Patrick's Day and I think of my silly, crazy, frustrating, but incredibly kind father-in-law. I want my children to know the good about their grandpa. I won't sugar coat his addiction because I want them to know that the need to be careful since it runs in both mine and Mike's families. But, today, on what was their grandpa's favorite day, we're having a party. I've made Irish stew (no corned beef for me, thanks), we're having green kool aid mixed with 7 up and mint-chocolate chip ice cream for dessert.

I think my father-in-law would be proud.

1 comment:

Angela said...

(HUGS)... that post really knocked the wind out of me--it was very good.