My father-in-law passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last Sunday, March 18. While we are heartbroken and sad, I want to note the amazing blessings that somehow surrounded us in his last few days, blessings that will comfort us in the years to come.
John and I only get to Wichita Falls to visit his family a few times a year. Since Tony was the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus at his church and also created their monthly newsletter, he always included pictures of each of the granddaughters in it. Parishners always joked with us about seeing our daughter every month in that newsletter. In the newsletter, I read about the weekly Lenten Fish Frys and felt a strong desire to go. John’s busy weekends left us two options — March 16-18 or March 23-25. My bookclub was scheduled to meet on March 17, but since that was Spring Break, I polled my bookclub members about changing the date, and the majority voted to move the meeting the March 24. So we planned our trip to Wichita Falls for the weekend of March 16-18. John took the day off Friday so we could be in town for the Fish Fry. We made it into Wichita Falls just as the fish was frying, so we went straight the the church. Tony wanted the girls to call him “Grandpa” but it became quickly evident that the two toddlers, Caroline and her 16-month-old cousin Kate, would be calling him “Pa Pa.” He had a wonderful time snapping pictures of the girls, bringing them food, holding them and following them around the parish hall. Someone even managed to snap a picture of Tony taking pictures of the two girls. (Steph, can I get a copy of that?)
Saturday afternoon, we video taped Tony reading a story to Caroline. I’ve been trying to tape different family members reading stories to Caroline, but I didn’t get to tape everyone in Wichita Falls as I had planned. I did get that tape of “Pa Pa,” though.
We were staying with my sister-in-law and had not planned to attend the church bbq and dance on Saturday night. I could tell that Tony had assumed otherwise, so we decided to go to the dance. Caroline and Kate had bbq with us in the parish hall, and Tony shared a bowl of ice cream with Caroline. Then we took the girls to the nursery and headed to the dance. We had a nice time. Tony and Mary danced. We talked and laughed. After heading home, we stayed up late visiting with Stephanie, so John, Caroline, and I slept in a bit Sunday morning. Tony had been there waiting for us for over an hour. We visited that morning; he played with the girls. Tony had also completed some sketches of Caroline (and Kate, too). Stephanie noticed that morning that he had not signed all of the pictures, so we made him sign them just before we left around noon. We were about an hour and a half from home, around 4:00, when we got the call. We turned around and went straight back to Wichita Falls.
I am thankful that plans worked out so that we were there for a wonderful weekend, that we got the video tape, that we had the pictures signed, that we went to the dance and dinner. I’m thankful for the time we had. God is good.