A little over two years ago, I wrote a blog, but was asked not to post it at that time. My father-in-law had just passed away and my mother in law didn’t want anything online that might let the world know she was alone.
I honored her wishes.
Since she has recently remarried and no longer lives alone, I think it is okay to post this tribute to my father-in-law. Here is that blog…
To Everything there is a Season…
As I begin this blog, I am on a train heading north. It is my first ever train ride, and I wish I could share the experience with someone, but I am alone in a car full of strangers. I can’t help but listen to their conversations, every story is different. A young girl and her mother had gone to Florida to see her grandmother and they were heading home. Another person was visiting family. A man was going to a conference in Washington, DC. For some, their journey was only beginning.
Mine? I am going to see my in-laws, but this is not a joyous trip. My father-in-law is dying as I boarded the train. It is a long ride, and as I ride the train through the long night I have plenty of time to reflect on how short life is. Only two years ago, my mom lost her fight with cancer. Knowing how this journey will end brings back all those memories.
I arrive in Philadelphia, tired from my trip, but anxious. Did I arrive soon enough to say goodbye? I want to see my husband, more than ever. I want to hug him and feel his love. I trudge to the escalator, not wanting to wait for the elevator. He is at the top, waiting for me, smiling. If I weren’t loaded down with my bags, I would’ve leapt into his arms.
My husband is tired, but glad to see me. We talk on the way to his parents’ home. He tells me about his mother and how she’s holding up. She is a strong woman, and not denying her strength and fortitude, she is exhausted and has asked for help. We have come to assist in any way we can. It’s what families do.
Watching someone you love die is a heartbreaking thing. At first, your heart desperately clings to the hope that you can still do something. You work around the clock, tending to their needs. They may have periods of lucidness, and you talk with that person, remembering the good times. Nobody ever brings up the bad things during this time. You smile, remember when we…? Always fond memories. The person smiles. You smile.
Bittersweet. You cling to every moment. Each moment ticks by too quickly.
My in-laws both escaped Hungary in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution. A great many of them came to the United States, the majority though Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. My father-in-law was one of those young men looking for a new life in a new place. His bride of fifty-eight years also escaped Hungary, but the two would not meet until they arrived in the United States.
My father-in-law was a hard working man. Filled with the American dream, he and his wife worked hard to raise their three children, all born in America. He was an artisan, his art was in the way he could take a piece of iron or brass and turn it into something beautiful. His works are everywhere. He made beautiful chandeliers that grace many a home. He made many ornate pieces that grace public buildings all over the northeast. I have a beautiful pair of candlestick holders he made out of what he called “junk”. The man had a gift.
He was a strong, vibrant, and passionate man who loved his family and the life he and his wife created in this country.
And I am proud to know this man was in my family. Rest in peace.