Monday, March 26, 2012

Greatness is not defined by how much you have, but by how much you loved.

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much..." ~ Luke 7:47

My father-in-law Joe was called home today during the hour of mercy (3:40 p.m.). Last Monday evening, on the feast of St. Joseph (his namesake), Dad had a severe intercranial hemorrhage (stroke).  He woke up paralyzed on his left side.  My mother-in-law Kathy was able to get three of her sons and their families on the phone with Dad.  We were all able to tell him how much we loved him, and he us,  before he slipped into a coma less than thirty minutes later.  We experienced many signal graces over the past week, as we surrounded him with love and faith.  As I think over the last twenty years that Joe has been part of my life, I am honored to have shared so much with him.  He is one of the greatest men I have ever known.  I wrote Dad a letter the day after his stroke; I had to put all my feelings into words.  Below you will find the letter, and I hope that as you read it you are able to get a feel for the man that so many of us have loved.  If love is the test of greatness then Dad has excelled in this life.  He is a man that would go out of his way to help you and always made you feel important.  I ALWAYS knew I could count on him.

Dear Dad,

As I sit here thinking over the past twenty years that you have been part of my life, I am filled with gratitude.  I am so thankful for the many hours I got to spend with you on our “projects”.  Whether it be building the deck at the lake home.  Moving massive China hutches/furniture, or the complete remodel we did on Steve and I’s house in Sioux Falls, we always worked well together.  I remember in the dating years with Steve, you made it quite clear that a little girl couldn’t be lifting on those things, and doing those kinds of jobs.  However, you changed your mind quickly “once you saw me in action” as you once told me. I still remember your reaction when you and I moved your China hutch from the bedroom to the kitchen.  You smiled at me and said “you are one tough girl, that is my girl”

I am just so thankful, because you and I just understood each other. Even the times we didn’t see eye to eye, never seemed to drive a wedge in our relationship.  You have been a father to me in so many ways.  You are truly my dad.  It is not very often in life that someone gets to have two fathers.  You always took the time to ask about me and my family. My other dad always speaks so highly of you.  He always tells me how much he liked you and the times you got to spend together. You always took the time to help Steve and me if we needed anything.  Some of my favorite memories are of you and Mary snuggling on the couch when she was a baby.  There was times when no one could seem to calm her, but you put her in papa’s arms, and you guys would watch TV and out she would go.

As I am sitting here thinking about you.  I am sad because the time I got with you wasn’t long enough, but I am happy because my life has been blessed to have you in it. I’m a stronger person, mother, daughter, wife, and friend because of your influence.  When I was younger, I needed a father figure, and you gladly filled that role without hesitation. I always knew I could count on you.  I am thankful for the many conversations we have had.  How you shared with me about Grandma Castles journey with cancer, and that I had to promise you that when it was your time to go, I wouldn’t let them put any of that crap on you, that we would just let you go. I never thought that would be the case that we actually would have to decide to let you go.

Dad you have always been a provider and a protector of your family, and you gladly pulled me under that umbrella.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for being my dad in all the ways you were.  Thank you for the wonderful memories, Thank you for your son.  Thank you for asking me at times if I wanted you to kick said son’s ass. Thank you for being a wonderful papa to my children.  Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for being you.  I love you with all my heart, and when I think of you, I don’t think father –in-law.  I think Dad.  You are my Dad, and I will miss you.

Love, Your Girl,

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