Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today is my father-in-law's birthday. I never knew him. He died in January of 1968, the day his fifth child, his first son, my husband, was two weeks old. He was already in the hospital, having had a heart attack, when my mother-in-law went into labor. Another heart attack took him January 29th, when he was just forty years old. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for my mother-in-law, burying the love of her life with four little girls and a newborn fresh in her arms.

By all accounts he was a wonderful man. Funny and loving, obsessed with cleaning, all genes he passed on to my husband. My mother-in-law would laugh as she told me about an apartment they lived in that had a sliding glass door. He would clean it until it sparkled but, with so many little hands in the house, inevitably the sun would shine though to reveal many new little finger and hand prints (as well as nose and lip prints, if they were anything like my children) crisscrossing the glass. And so he would shine it again. A never-ending battle that my own husband continues to fight.

She told me about how her dad, who had a bicycle shop, thought he was a nice young man and introduced him to his teenage daughter. It wasn't until Hope was born and had blue-grey eyes that we found out he had had blue eyes. The only photos we have ever seen of him were in black and white. My mil and all five of her children had brown eyes. She had hoped that one would end up with his blue eyes, but that would have to wait for the next generation. Even then, it wasn't the intense blue that she spoke of, but without that coming from him, Hope and Lydia would have one of the shades of brown of my other kids.

His first name was Abraham. Our son, Abie, is named for him. With a two-syllable last name that starts with 'L' and ends with 'N,' we thought it was a bit Lincolnish and shortened it to Abram. People mistakenly call him Abraham often enough that I sometimes wish we had just gone with the whole thing. Emma calls him Abraham sometimes, anyway.

When my mother-in-law died, it was a small comfort to think that after 32 years they would finally be together again. I'm not sure where I'm going with this other than to say that it's weird, missing someone you never knew. I wish I had had a chance to have a father-in-law. But more than than, I am sad that my husband never had the chance to know his dad. That his dad never had the chance to see, here anyway, what an amazing person his fifth child, his first son, my husband grew to be.



Blogger Angela Martínez said...


This made me all teary eyed. Very sweet of you to reflect on him this way. You say you never knew him, but it sounds like you meet a little part of him through your husband and children every day.

10/17/2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

What a beautiful tribute. I am sure he appreciates your loving thoughts.

10/17/2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Pearls Mother said...

What a gorgeous tribute,
Your FIL is always with you in your husband and children.
A big hug for a special day.

10/17/2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Now you are forcing me to comment!

I love you.


10/18/2006 7:04 AM  

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