This is without a doubt the hardest post I’ve had to write yet. When I shared a little more than four months ago about my sweet father-in-law’s glioblastoma brain tumor diagnosis, I never imagined come June I would be writing that he passed away. As a family, we were not ignorant of the statistics of this type of cancer (combined with his age – 76), but we had hope of time with him. So we are reeling a bit, as you would expect.
Even though this is not the usual scope of my blog, I hope you’ll bear with me as I reflect a moment on an exemplary life well-lived.
The very first time I met my future father-in-law (at an Oregon Duck football game!) I quickly realized where Brian got his sense of humor and love of life. And that bringing chocolate chip cookies was a good idea. He enjoyed laughing and joking, and yet was a scholar who had earned a Fullbright Scholarship that took him to Turkey before returning to a career teaching math to high school students for more than 30 years.
Then, when he and my mother-in-law ‘retired’ from teaching here, they moved to Kuwait and then to Bahrain to teach more – perfectly living out how God and people were the two most important things in their lives. When they moved back, missions remained important to them and they continued to support and encourage people to think about missions.
And how we have been blessed by his attentive and caring ways with our kids! Not only was he a fun grandpa, he also joyously taught them truths from the Bible while living these same truths out as an example for them to see.
Have I ever mentioned that both my in-laws spent months preparing and planning a week-long summer camp for their grandkids? We would all meet down at the Oregon Coast for “Camp Mil-Mar” (named for a house built by Brian’s grandparents – Millet & Marion – that we would gather in) where the kids would do crafts, learn about famous Christians (Jim Elliot and Eric Liddel, to name two), memorize Bible verses, and learn to waterski on the lake by the house. And they did this for more than 10 years.
Maybe blessed is an understatement.
We felt the effects of his generous spirit throughout the years, too. Whether it was gifting us with a used car, helping us dig a new trench for a waterline, or paying for our summer family get-togethers, he did what he could to help support us and show us his love through time and whatever resources he could afford.
Since he worked his whole life as a teacher and was careful with his money, we did not take any of this lightly. A generous spirit goes beyond monetary value – if he had nothing to give but his time, he would’ve done that for anyone who needed it.
My daughter and I were talking about how grandpa lived his life for God and to the fullest. We realized that if he knew last June that he only had a year to live, he probably wouldn’t have lived it any differently. He loved God and people, invested in relationships, and shared his beliefs up to the moment the splitting headache changed his (and our) world. He had no need for a “bucket list” – he traveled and did the things he felt God called him to do his entire life and didn’t wait for a “perfect” time.
That’s an example worth following.
Thank you so much, sweet friends, for your uplifting words and amazing kindness over the last months (and over on Facebook – wow) as our family has walked this path. Really, from the depths of my heart – I felt a great virtual hug and it really did help. Hold your loved ones close and spend as much time with them as you can!