My 89 year-old father-in-law died Monday. My 90 year-old mother-in-law died today, less than 60 hours later. It wasn’t heartbreak as much as an inexplicable cosmic coincidence that they damn near crossed the finish line side-by-side.
How do you fill the void?
They were from Two Harbors, Minnesota, a ‘Grandma’s Marathon’ north of Duluth on the edge of Lake Superior. They spent most of their lives in Southern and Central California before moving to Washington State five years ago. They were married for 67 years.
I never saw them get angry at each other. It was a 1st Corinthians love. Somehow, they mastered the whole marriage thing, remaining extremely close until the end.
I couldn’t have asked for a better father-in-law. “It’s about time,” he said when I told him I was going to marry his daughter in a Marie Calendar’s bathroom in Long Beach, California.
Ron took me to a lot of good golf courses and always paid for my green fees. He would brag about my golf game even when it was nothing to brag about. He trusted me with his BMW which Lynn and I would take to the San Luis Obispo swimming pool. He loved that car and pushed it a little harder than I sometimes liked. He took great pride in his citrus trees and he was an oenophile. A rare, down-to-earth oenophile. Despite his professional and economic successes in California, he was always small town Minnesota. There wasn’t a pretentious bone in his body. Just. Like. My. Dad.
Peg never took me golfing. And if I’m being honest, I wasn’t as close to Peg as I was Ron, but we grew fond of each other in the last decade. And for that I’m grateful. I’m especially grateful for the childhood she provided Lynn. With Ron, she chose her in a Los Angeles hospital and sowed many of her clothes among innumerable other acts of love. Unlike me, she was quite formal and proper. So much so, Lynn’s brother absolutely lost it the first time I swore at their dinner table (must have been the red wine).
Less obvious was her physical and emotional toughness. I suppose it’s hard not to be tough growing up on the edge of Lake Superior. In that regard, she was Just. Like. My. Mom.
I am forever indebted to both Ron and Peg for picking Lynn and providing her an unconditional love that so obviously lives on in her. And I am forever indebted to them for the profound love they had for Alison and Jeanette. That lives on through them too.
Maybe that’s how we fill the void. By loving others as we have been loved.
Blessed be their memory.