The relatives had either moved or passed away. DH’s uncle to the North had always been sickly. He’d had polio as a young boy and was increasingly crippled because of it. He’d gotten so he walked so stooped over that his back was at a right angle to his legs. He told me he looked like a monkey. Still, he would scramble up and down ladders and do his sign-painting. He took it upon himself to mark all the roads on the mountain. His signs were wood painted dark green with white lettering and they were very professional. He did one for DS2 that still hangs on the wall in their family room. Not long after we moved to the mountain, he painted “I (heart) you, DH” with a large red heart where the word is. If I went to the lower garden and stretched up as tall as possible, I could barely see it.
One day, I missed him. I hadn’t seen him for awhile and I was afraid to go into the house because I thought he might be in there, dead. I went to the service station at the end of the road and asked the owner to go in and look around. He recruited a friend to go with him. They found nothing. I called the hospital on the other side of the mountain from where I worked and found he’d been taken there. My neighbor had discovered he was very sick with pneumonia. He passed away the following Sabbath evening. He was an unusual sort—the kind you don’t soon forget.
I had become the unofficial supplier of music for the funerals of that generation. I played for his funeral in the little rustic (not in an attractive way) chapel where I had gone to church years before. They had a lovely Roland keyboard that was a joy. When the building burned years later, I mourned the keyboard and not the church. The man’s daughter had picked out the music and, for the postlude, she wanted “He Lives“. I didn’t do a rendition quite that rousing but it was lively.
At the cemetery, I got into a conversation with my father-in-law. He was very confused by that time and to call it a conversation was kind of a stretch. He would say something, I would comment, then he might go off on a tangent and start talking about something totally unrelated. I quit trying to keep up and would just agree with whatever he said next. My brother-in-law came up and heard me agreeing and wanted to know what we were talking about and I truthfully said, “I don’t know.” He said, “So you’re lying to him.” No, I was just agreeing with whatever he said. I didn’t see any future in trying to correct him. He might know for five seconds, if that long, what was real but he was living in his own world. I remembered a book that was popular back in the 70s with my friends. It was Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda. That’s what I thought of my father-in-law’s existence. It was a separate reality. Not the strange one in the book but his own.
He was still living with my brother-in-law and my mother-in-law had been moved to a nursing home that was closer. My brother-in-law would take him to see his “Doll”. That was something he remembered and looked forward to.
My FIL’s birthday and the couple’s anniversary were right together so they were always celebrated at the same time. I don’t remember exactly which number this one was but it was ‘way up there. Doll had been done up in her best clothes and family and friends came from far and near to mark the day. In this picture are my father-in-law, DD, me (I’d started gaining weight), my granddaughter, DS1, DIL1 and, in the front of the group, my mother-in-law.
That afternoon, there was a meeting with lots of singing. FIL got up and led the congregation in “He Lives”. Even though he was well past 95, he still had a strong voice and he directed the song with gusto. I have a picture of him somewhere singing up on the platform with his arms outstretched but I can’t locate it. I really need to get organized.
Everyone had a wonderful time that day. It was a time to remember.
DD had finished her first year in college. She had a double major, International Communications and Spanish. The Spanish major involved going to Spain for her sophomore year. I was dumbfounded. My bank account was resting a bit easier than it had before but there was no way I could cover her expenses and I couldn’t expect her to swim the Atlantic. “Rest in the Lord.” I had to continually remind myself to do that but, in this instance, I didn’t see how he was going to bring this one about.