Saturday, October 30, 2010


So pleasant and warm and cozy and quiet beside the fireplace right this minute . . . life has been . . . well, life . . . so busy and active, and then something life altering causes it to come to a sudden halt . . . take a minute . . .

My sweet Father in law has passed away. He was such a character. A brilliant man. A staunch defender of the faith. His silliness, spirit and his faithfulness will pass down through generations forever more.

He looked just like Santa Claus. I'm not kidding you. Even had a costume made . . . If I can find a picture, I'll show you later. One Summer afternoon when Sam was about six years old, one of his buddies came flying in our front door, heading straight up the stairs . . . you could almost hear his brakes screech as he came to a stop midway on the staircase . . . pointed to the fellow napping in our living room, and yelled, "What is SANTA doing sleeping on your couch!?"

My kids thought they were the luckiest kids in the world. Santa Claus was their Grandpa!

Have I ever told you that I married the boss' son? . . . I did. {sheepish grin here} Technically, we were engaged before I was hired, but we hadn't told his parents yet . . . but still . . .
We told them the day before I started work . . . he introduced me to every single patient as, "This is Debbi. She's going to be my daughter-in-law . . . unless I can talk them out of it."

All of the boys at our high school went to him for their sports physicals. He guest lectured the science classes. This is what I first knew of the man that I would someday call Dad.

Once when I was a teenager, my parents let me camp with boyfriend's family since the girls slept in the trailer with the parents . . . {Yep. We were high school sweethearts.} I shared the table/bed with my future husband's sister. Dad woke up at 4:30 . . . 5:00, or some similarly unheard of earliness, and began to make himself some breakfast. Note that I hardly knew this man at this point, and I was painfully shy . . . he turned the gas burner on . . . remember how that sounds and smells? . . . a gas burner in a camp trailer, from three feet away? Soft, gentle memories, perfect. . . . He buttered both sides of some wonderful nutty bread, then toasted one side at a time in a skillet . . . aware that he woke me, he served me first. Breakfast toast in bed. Just the two of us were awake in that trailer. Whispering. He told me how he needed a little something on his stomach so he wouldn't be ill when they took the inflatable Avon boat out into the ocean to dive for the abalone and rock cod that we would enjoy for dinner that evening. I still love toast made that way.

That very trip, he bought a piece of property there, at the ocean and with his boys built a vacation home. We visited it for many, many years. Happy, happy memories.

Years and years later, I have a photo of Dad . . . with tears in his eyes, wearing a bright yellow "Super Grandpa" Father's Day gift t-shirt, as he held his two day old first grandson. {Who, incidentally, looks just like him.}

Twenty-ish years ago, Dad began participating in medical missions . . . with Friendships. He had such a heart for missions . . . especially for Ecuador. He brought back little trinkets and dolls for our daughter from wherever he travelled to help those in pain . . .

He travelled to China . . . carried in boatloads of Bibles.

What a beautiful legacy he has left for his children and grandchildren.

Almost three years ago, we visited him in the hospital . . . we were told not to expect much from him, he was in a coma . . . and suddenly, on hearing our voices, he awoke. . . . wanted to know all about the kids, especially youngest Grandson, who was spending a semester at Oxford. So we told him. We told him how Sam's classes were going, how he was enjoying the British Isles, and . . . that he had met a girl. A local girl . . . in England. For the next hour, periodically, Dad would shut his eyes, giggle, shake his head, and say . . . "Had to go all the way to England to meet a girl from Rocklin. Had to go all the way to England to meet a girl from Rocklin."

Dad was too ill after a stroke to attend their wedding.

We did not live near him. In all honesty, his Grandchildren had very little opportunity to know him well . . . but they dearly loved him, all . . . and he loved them. I think one of his happiest thoughts was that all of his grandchildren are faithful Christians . . . and both of our sons are finding their ways into ministry . . . Zacharia, our eldest . . . that first Grandchild . . . is part of a medical mission team heading to Haiti very soon . . . Samuel is in Seminary.

Now, in a couple of days, we will bury him. Bless his soul. Our daughter Elizabeth's four year old son, Christian . . . comforting his Mommy after the news said, "It's okay, Mommy. He's with Jesus. I bet he likes the gold streets!" I'll bet Christian's right.


  1. oh, what a treasure of a father in law! i'm so sorry
    for your terrible loss. i adore my father in law, too,
    and can't bear to think of his passing on. :(

  2. Debbi, what a absolutely beautiful post. What more could any Father ask for but his son to marry a wonderful girl (you) and raise their children to know and serve the Lord. Grandpa must have felt so blessed. Thank you for the sweet stories of you and your Father in law. What a sweet man he was to you. You are also so blessed to have been part of the family. How wonderful, you have made my evening. I love stories like you have just shared. Blessings to all of your family. Love, sandi

  3. Debbi--Today three friends from church drove me the three hours to Auburn to clean out Dennis' room. We left at 7 a.m. and returned after 8 p.m. It was a sad and tiring day. Then I read your memories and it brought back the sweetest of times. I had forgotten about the abalone, the look on his face as he held Zach with such wonder and love, the vitality which was his. You have restored him to me, Debbi. I needed to see him healthy and happy again, not just by picturing him in heaven, but with the truth of what has been. Thank you. Much love, Carolyn (Dennis' wife of 33 years)

    ~This is Debbi, I have posted this for my Mother-in-law. She had no accepted profile, but wanted to make the addition. Which explains why her link will take you back to my blog.

    Love, Debbi

  4. Thank you, all of you. It means so much to me that you read and understood what I wanted to say. And, thank you, too, Dede, in case you see this, for your sweet email. You are all so dear.

  5. Debbi, I'm so sorry for your family's loss. This is such a beautiful post and I loved reading about your father-in-law. I don't think I ever met Elizabeth's Grandpa, although, that wasn't his cabin that we stayed at in Gualala that one year at Thanksgiving, was it? If so, then I did kind of meet him in a round-about way. I have really fond memories of that trip.
    I can tell you all were close to him despite the fact that you didn't live close by, and I know you look forward to seeing him again. I'll be praying for you and everyone in the family. I would love to hear about his mission work some day.
    Much love ~Ri

  6. Yes, Ri. You're right! He's the very one that built that house. I'm so happy that you share our happy memories there! Thank you for your sweet words! Love! ~Debbi

  7. Oh Debbi, so sorry to hear of your Father in law's passing. Out of the mouth of babe's....Christian said it perfectly, didn't he? Please give your dear hubby our condolences as well. With much love, Deb