He was a family man. He beamed with pride when he spoke of his two sons. So proud of what they had become and the lives they were leading.
He was compassionate. Always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it. To a fault, in fact.
He was a leader of the community. A teacher of children. And he loved to make people laugh.
This was my father-in-law, before Alzheimer's took him from us.
It was almost four years ago that we began down this awful path. The disease was stealthy and started with small signs--minor forgetfulness or not remembering which end of a wrench to use. It moved quickly though, and in a short amount of time, the man we knew had disappeared.
He sobbed when we left the doctor's office after those first tests. He didn't cry for himself then. He cried for his wife--they were married 46 years at that time--and for the children who would see him change.
And change he has. He's not the man we once knew. But he is still the man we love.
Family meant everything to my father-in-law and I know that he would burst at the seams with pride to see his two sons in their new fatherhood roles. (The Man's brother has a baby just two-months younger that LM.) I can just hear him bragging about his new grandsons, and imagine him pulling out photos during his daily 5 a.m. coffee with the guys.
He taught his sons things like: if you commit to something, see it through; always return a borrowed vehicle with a full tank of gas; be charitable; be quick with your wit and your smile; they can name just about every make/model of car known to man; eat with gusto; be loyal to those you love; real men DO wash dishes and do laundry; take pride in your work. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
There are days that we are angry. We miss him terribly. We miss talking to him, getting advice, having him ask "How was your day, Babe?"
I wonder, just what kind of world is this that people are stripped away slowly, one memory at a time, from the world?
And we have shed many tears over the fact that Little Man will never know his grandfather the way we did.
On those days, I try to remember the legacy he has passed on. The Man and his brother were lucky to have him as their father. Lucky that he taught them so many good lessons that they, in turn, pass his lessons onto their sons.
I see so many similarities between The Man and his father. The way he can make people laugh. His kind heart. His love of animals.
Perhaps that's one of the most amazing things about fatherhood. No matter how much time you have with your father, it just isn't enough. But the lessons they teach you can last a lifetime.
You are loved, RLG.
To my Dad, I'm thankful every day that I have you in my life. I love you!
And to The Man, I admire the father you are, and look forward to watching the father you will become.
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