My father in law was a bar man. He owned and had a hand in a few places.. he knew funny stories about everyone in the town. He was known for being someone who always liked to have a good time. It seemed like almost everyone who found out I was Mike VanGundy's daughter in law, told me what a cool guy he was. And he was just that. Cool.
He was a straight shooter who loved jokes, watched ESPN on the loudest decible possible that he blew the speakers in his work television and loved golf. Boy did that man love golf.
When I first met my husband, he and his father were not close. I wouldn't say the didn't like each other, but I think estranged might be a good word. They talked, but sometimes it seemed as if it was though it was because they thought they had to. They had just drifted apart.
I don't remember how it happened, but over time.. my husband and his father mended their relationship. I think it was because my husband had realized that overtime he had be led in away from his father, for reasons that weren't really his.
As the years went by, I saw my husband and his father reconnect in a way that changed them both. My husband flurished having a man in his life that truly loved him for HIM not for what he did or who he was or what he could give. His father loved him for just being his son. And his dad turned into a father that I don't even think he thought he could be.
I watched his pride as he saw me walk down the steps in my wedding dress and took me so carefully to the country club where his son was waiting to walk me down the aisle. "Girl don't you get that dress dirty!"
I watched his pride as he saw Brett grow into an independent man, who didn't need anyone but himself to accomplish his goals.
I watched his pride as they chatted at my father in law's little car dealership on the corner and how proud he was to introduce people to his son.
They both had alot of things in common. Those eyes. Their hands. That grin. That they both clean their hands with Windex. (I know gross right?) It's all the same. All father and son.
He always told Brett in these past few years how much he loved him. He was one of the few people in my husbands family who said he loved him and you could see it in his face how much he ment it. The both loved each other so much.
When we told my father in law that we were leaving for Alaska he was the one of the few people who fully supported us and encouraged us to go for it. He was SO PROUD that we worked for something we wanted and went out and got it. I always joked that he could come sell snowmobiles instead of cars.. But he never was having that.
He was always just so proud.
He closed every conversation I ever had with him on the phone with "take care of my boy" "I love you kids so much.."
I wish I could go with my husband back home, to bury his father. Sadly the airline industry has made that pretty impossible. I feel so helpless and frustrated that I cant go with him and help him through this. I've sat here for hours trying to figure out at way to make the numbers work, but as the time goes by the prices get higher and I don't know how else to make it work. Im just so mad I could cry.
But I know that my husband is strong. I know that his father is up their somehow figuring out at way to help him through all of this.
My father in law was a good man.
I was lucky to say in this life I had 4 fathers. My real, grand, my step and my father in law. Not many girls get to say that.
I will miss you Poppa.