My Father-In-Law and Me

I always used to be the last one left sitting at my in-laws’ dining room table after meals. It would be just my father-in-law and me. He’d be talking, and I’d be listening. Everyone else would’ve gone (some with eye rolls), but I would stay put and hang on his every word.

A couple of times I tried to share something about me, or my kids – his grandchildren. But he didn’t want to hear the mundane details of our lives. We weren’t “interesting” enough to him, I suppose, which is a guiding principle in his life.

Caught in the thorny bramble of his endless thoughts, he only sought a constant audience in the warm body seated before him: me.

It took me years to recognize why I sat there, sole witness to his droning monologues. I desperately wanted an active, loving father figure in my life, and I wanted him to be it.

The thing is, he never applied for the job, and I never directly asked him to fill it.

Releasing my dreams and hopes for a dad has been a process, but I’m willing to let both him – and my fantasies – go.

I’m willing to allow him to be himself – warts and all – and to free myself from this yearning. Because you see, I had a lot of energy tied up in it. Energy that’s now more available to me for living.

So now he sits, still droning endlessly on, at the head of his table. He is like a king, with others who choose to sit and keep his court, for their own reasons.

Others – while I am off living and writing.

Others, but not me.

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A Cemetery & Chocolate: Remembering Faith

Today we visited my mother-in-law’s grave, still so new the headstone has not yet been placed.

It was outside of Albany, New York. We were passing through, driving home from a relaxing vacation in the Adirondack Mountains. Mechanicville is the name of the town where she was laid to rest. It’s also where she grew up in the 30s and 40s.

What I saw of the outskirts of this town was nicer than what I expected: something resembling the depressed village of her youth.

The cemetery was tiny and tucked away, up a shaded hill. We found her grave easily, and those of her kin.

We had no flowers. The stop was impromptu. But then I remembered I had something better than flowers. Something she would have appreciated and loved.

Chocolate.

In our car were some chocolate chips. Half a bag – six ounces to be exact – of semi-sweetness.

We each took a handful and scattered them across the crabgrass growing on the mound of earth that covered her coffin.

I imagined she burst out laughing at our offering. That was her way – to find the humor in almost every situation.

I whispered a prayer as I stood there, watching the chocolate chips melting in the sun:

Blessing on your life, Faith.

Blessings on your death.

Blessings on your journey, rest in peace.