Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Remembering Kevin's Grandpa

Jon's Dad recently passed away on June 24, 2014.

Jon, Kevin, and I went to church the following Sunday. The second reading was from Timothy that day. This reading has a lot of meaning for me because it has been used for several funerals in my family. I have also been asked to read this same reading twice, for my Grandpap and also for my Uncle's funeral. Jon's Dad requested that no funeral be held for him although we did have a lovely private graveside service. It felt like divine intervention that this Timothy reading was read (by our good friend Ms. Louise) at church for us to be able to say good bye in a way that is familiar to us. 

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

My Father in Law
10/23/1944 - 6/24/2014

I don’t remember exactly when I first met Ron and Jackie but I know it had to be our first year at Ohio University after Jon and I met. That would have been 1992 - which adds up to be 22 years ago! 

I was always included in their visits with Jon. Ron and Jackie would drive the four hours to OU, stop in Jon’s room long enough to drop off a couple cases of pop (if they had just been down south it would be CheerWine and SunDrop), take us out to eat (usually Ponderosa), and then drop us off on campus and go back home. I remember it feeling odd to me that their visit would be so short, there were rarely hugs (if there were hugs it was purely for my benefit) and certainly never any tearful goodbyes (like when I was with my family). I quickly learned that they were not an emotional family, but it was also quite clear that Jon came from a good family, who showed their love in other significant ways.

One of my favorite stories to tell about Ron, is from our Junior year, moving into the College Inn. I found Jon and his Dad outside unloading the Jeep truck and Ron had been grumbling (I’m being nice because he was really swearing) and then he saw me and immediately changed his attitude and gave me a real friendly greeting and then turned around and went back to grumbling. 

It wasn’t until spring break, our Junior year that I finally made my first visit to Brockway Road in LeRoy. Ron took us out and showed me all the area sights of their little town of LeRoy, the big city of Cleveland and Lake Erie, and even the Amish with horse drawn carriages. On another visit, he welcomed both me and my sister when we made the long flight from the Dayton airport to the Cleveland airport to go to Sea World.

When they began sending me birthday cards, I did not believe Jon when he told me it was his Dad that bought, signed, and addressed the cards. And it also surprised me when I discovered that Ron did household chores, like vacuuming. When I mentioned this to my Mom, she made a comment that she hoped Jon would do household chores like his Dad because that would make a good husband. And he has - his Dad has positively influenced the man, husband, father, son, and successful businessman that Jon is today.

Only about a month after Jon and I were married, Ron’s Mom Cobie, passed away. At the funeral, Jon and all the grandkids were escorting the casket out of church and I had this brief moment of feeling awkward because Jon wasn’t by my side and I was left alone with his parents, but as we exited the pew my new father in law very thoughtfully put his arm on me and made me feel included and a real part of their family. 

Ron was still working at Sears when we moved into our house and he was able to get us some great deals and generous gifts on the many new items needed for our home. He retired not long after we moved which benefited us greatly as he was always willing to help us with our many projects (which were always in between his own home projects after they moved into Cobie’s house). Ron and Jackie were with us for countless hours helping us build our front porch, for many other home improvement projects, and many projects for Kevin’s program. He was always willing to help us and never overstepping boundaries. And when he was at our house he always greeted and made light conversation with our neighbors, which they remember to this day.

Some of the fond memories I have of my Father in Law include the times we traveled together. Just a couple months after we were married we traveled to North Carolina for a Carroll family reunion. While we were there he made sure I got to see all the key sights. We also traveled to Myrtle Beach for my first visit which afterwards they bought their own condo and generously let us use anytime we wanted. And one of my favorites was our trip to London. With Kevin, we also made a trip to Myrtle Beach while they were at their condo, and made some good memories with a trip to Oglebay and Niagara Falls. And of course all the times they traveled to Philadelphia to help Kevin during our visits to The Institutes and later The Family Hope Center. I have always appreciated the support both Ron and Jackie showed us when we made the decision to get help for Kevin with our friends in Philadelphia.

Other ways I have spent quality time with my Father in Law was during my pregnancy when he was recovery from heart surgery. Jackie had recently retired from teaching but was substitute teaching. I would come up to visit with lunch and ask Ron to show me photographs and tell me stories about his family because I was making a Family Tree Scrapbook. I loved hearing tales from when he was stationed in Europe, which is where he met Jackie, and all the fun adventures they had traveling around and in that corvette. Another time was when Kevin was a baby and our house was being renovated. Kevin and I stayed with them at that time. 

A few more recent favorite memories with my Father in Law include Ron and Sarah’s wedding, birthday celebrations with Kevin (even though he didn’t celebrate his own birthday), just hanging out at their house on a Sunday or holiday always feels like a mini vacation to me, Kevin’s many overnights at their house to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa without me hovering around, they would go for car rides and Kevin would get to sit on Grandpa’s tractor, the train he bought to put around the Christmas tree for Kevin’s delight, and I absolutely loved our last Christmas together, Ethan being almost one made it lively and fun. My last visit with my Father in Law was about a week before he went to the hospital. Kevin and I came up to visit on a Friday afternoon. Kevin had recently just began wearing the Mollii “Super Suit” and Grandpa had many good things to say to Kevin that made me feel encouraged.

So now it is time to say good bye to Ron (a husband, a father, a grandpa, a brother) and just like when I first met him 22 years ago at OU, this good man would want to keep it short with no tearful goodbye. Maybe it’s a helicopter or maybe it’s an old corvette but he would just want to drive away.