Monday, December 20, 2004

Growing Old and Growing Up - Part 1

A little over a week ago, I went with my husband, his mother, and his aunt to the cemetery where my father in law is buried to help light the Christmas lumineries. The cemetery places lumineries on each gravesite and then provides butane lighters so that family members can light the candles within them. Lighting of the lumineries is a positive symbol of celebration for our family. It is something which we very much look forward to each year.

It has been twelve and a half years since my father in law died from a heart attack. He was seventy four at the time. He had suffered his first heart attack at the age of fifty and had undergone a multiple by pass surgery about a year before he died. He had not been well the last year of his life, but no one other than the family knew how really sick he was.

This year's lighting of the lumineries happened to fall on my in-laws wedding anniversary, thus making the trip to the cemetery even more important to my mother in law. Unlike some of the other gravesites there, my father in law's is regularly maintained by the family. My mother in law ensures that the flowers on the marker are red, which was my father in law's favorite color. My father in law loved to play golf and he lived life to the fullest. Because he was such an avid golfer, he was buried with his favorite putter. His marker now always has a golf ball on a tee next to it so that he can play his latest round.

We all still miss him, especially at this time of year. He was a very upbeat and outgoing man who loved the Christmas holidays. I always thought of him as a jolly elf because you rarely ever saw him without a smile on his face or laughing. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to tell funny stories. Even though we heard the same ones over and over, they still were funny. When he died, the crowd at his funeral was very large. He was not famous, rich, or influencial, but he was extremely well loved by everyone who ever met him. Throughout his entire life, my father in law always had the wonder and enthusiasm for living like a kid does at Christmas.

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