My Father-in-Law

4 of us at our wedding

Brian’s folks with us at our wedding 25 years ago.

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.

biblemen

Grandpa with the kids

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.

the lebaron gift

Picking up the gift of a used car before our son’s first year of college:
Brian, dad, our son, and my brother.

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.

dad

Our sweet dad with the smile he usually wore.

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!

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, Jami, I’m so sorry to hear that. He sounds like a truly amazing human being. And the “summer camps”? How amazing is that?! What fond memories it must have created for all the grandkids. My thoughts are with you and your family during this horribly sad time.

  2.  Mary says

    Jami, what a beautiful tribute you have written to a life lived as it should have been. He is in heaven now, but those left behind are sad and reeling. I know you will miss him terribly. I lost a son last year and my wonderful father-in-law 5 years ago. I miss them every day. Please know you are thought of and prayed for and that in time and with God’s help, it will get better. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3.  says

    OH how I know the pain, sweet friend. I loved that you took the time to share who he was to you and your family – what a huge blessing for you. May his memory bring you joy in the midst of the pain of missing him and will his light continue to shine in what you do to remember him. {HUGS!!!}

  4.  Tracie H says

    I am so sorry for your loss. You and yours are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your family with us!

  5.  nancia13 says

    I have been following your site for only a short while. I recently lost my mother. I know that there is nothing but the love of God to help you get thru this sad time. You are in my prayers that you can find the peace that God can only give.

  6.  Michele Laughlin says

    Dear Jami,
    what a beautiful post about a lovely man. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my father to the same type of cancer 18 years ago. My father was diagnosed on January 22, 1995 and died March 19, 1995 at age 56. I know how painful it is to have such a short time to say goodbye. You and your family will be in my prayers.
    Michele

  7.  Alisha says

    What a lovely tribute! So blessed that you are always going to reap the rewards of the love that he shared with his son/your hubby, and his grandchildren. God is good. May HE carry you all through this time of loss of your loved one. Praying you through.

  8.  Brenda S. says

    Jami ~
    My heart aches for you. I know the pain that you are feeling… My Dad died suddenly and I learned that you are never fully prepared for these type of events. I’m glad that you had the “extra-time” to make more memories with your father-in-law. Writing down your wonderful memories is something that you will treasure in the years to come. What a wonderful man and what a legacy he has left for his family. You can rejoice that his suffering is over and that he can finally worship at his Saviors feet. God will help you to get through EACH moment. I will keep you in my prayers.

  9.  Crystal says

    What a beautiful tribute to an amazing man. Your family has been truly blessed to have shared your life with him. My prayers go out to you and your family!!

  10.  says

    I am so sorry about your wonderful father in law, what an amazing man!!! He will always be watching you and the family with his beautiful smile and loving heart!!

  11.  says

    I am sorry for your family’s loss and the grieving you must now endure. How blessed y’all are to have had such a wonderful example of generosity in your lives. Peace be to you and yours…

  12.  Paul says

    Jami,
    Our prayers are with you and your family. May your father-in-law
    be at peace and watch over your family. God Bless You and your Family
    in this time of sorrow.

  13.  says

    Prayers and Hugs to your family. What an extraordinary & amazing Dad & Mom! Take care. Be strong, I am sure he is watching over you all right now.

  14.  Kerry says

    Jami,

    This is beautiful! He sounds like an amazing man of God.:) I love you guys, and I’ll continue to keep you all in my prayers! <3
    Kerry

  15.  Jean N. says

    Jami, thank you so much for sharing your father-in-law’s story. He sounds like a remarkable man, whose loss will leave a hole in your family, for sure. But it sounds as though you all will have many, many stories and many, many memories to share with each other. I hope those will be a comfort to you all, forever.

    As I have commented several times over the past few years, what I enjoy most about An Oregon Cottage are the family stories, recipes, home projects, and traditions you share with all of us. I’m not a gardener, a do-it-yourself’er, or a crafter, but I do love when you allow us a little peek into your world in Oregon.

    God Bless your father-in-law and your family in this sad time.

    Best regards,

    Jean

  16.  says

    Jami, So sorry for your loss but thank you so much for sharing the life of your father-in-law, what a Godly man he was. You and your family will be in my prayers. I lost my dad in October and I know what a loss it is to lose a parent.

  17.  Casey says

    A beautiful tribute of love! He was a treasure to his family and I’m sure that he’ll live on in each one of you. I know God is smiling right now because his dear child completed a great work on earth and is now watching over his loved ones from Heaven. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.

  18.  Suz says

    I’m so sorry for your loss – thank you for sharing a tribute to someone who was clearly inspiring and living out his love for the Lord.

  19.  Pamela says

    How precious. What a blessing he was to your family and I’m sure you were to him.

    My fave line: “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.” WOW!! What a powerful testimony: to live for God and your family without one regret.

    You are (were) truly blessed.

  20.  Sue says

    So sorry to hear of his passing. We all know that he is in a better place with God. No more suffering or pain. Our prays are with you. He sounded like a remarkable man. Peace be with you.

  21.  Judy Morrow says

    Jami, my heart just aches for you and your family. Thank you for writing such a beautiful post in honor of your amazing father-in-law. If every man on this earth lived such a commendable and honorable life, what a different world this would be. Because of how blessed you’ve been your loss is that much more profound. Please know you and your family are in my prayers.

  22.  Martha Ellen says

    Jami, I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your father-in-law. My prayers are for you and your family in the coming days. ♥

  23.  Leslie says

    Jami, I am so very sorry for your loss. May God comfort you and your family during this sad time. Your post is one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever read. After reading your heartfelt words, I feel almost as if I’d known him. I wish peace and strength for you all.

    Leslie

  24.  Pam in IL says

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memorial to your father in law.

  25.  says

    Jami and family- what a beautiful tribute! He sounds lime an amazing man.

    Please take the time you need tp be with ypur family and support each other. Family comes first! We will all still be here when you are ready to come back.

  26.  Laura says

    Jami,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Having lost my mom less than a month ago I know the depths of despair your family is going through. It truly helps to gather your family close and lean on each other as much as you need. You all know how blessed you were that you had him as long as you did.
    Please know that my thoughts are with you and your family.

  27.  says

    Jami, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know there are many, many differently feelings and emotions your family is going through. Please know that we are praying for guys.

  28.  Vanessa says

    Jami,

    This is not the first time I have read one of your posts, but it is the first time I’ve felt compelled to respond. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with your father-in-law, who seemed like an absolutely caring, dedicated, and generous human being. I am glad that you included that even though many gifts of his were monetary, he also gave very generously of his time. You and your family are in my thoughts during this very difficult time.

  29.  Mary K says

    Beautifully written about a beautiful life. Thank you for sharing. What a challenge to us all!
    Peace to you and your family during these times.

  30.  says

    Hi Jami,
    I am vey sorry to hear the sad news and I pray that God gave courage to go thru this difficult time in life. You will always be in my prayers at all times.
    almas

  31.  mistie says

    Our prayers are with you and your family, especially Sunday, as we know that will be a difficult day. As hard as it is (its been 10 years for us this year), it is such a blessing to know when a saint finally makes it home :) Thank you so much for sharing his life with us.

  32.  Tatyana says

    I live in Russia. I understand your grief. I’m so sorry to hear that. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memorial to your father in law.

  33.  AndiW says

    Jami, I’m truly sorry for your family’s loss. What an amazing reflection of an amazing man. I would LOVE to have known him. I’m thankful that you did and are parted for only a short time. May God strengthen you and yours during these bittersweet moments.

  34.  Bea Hansen says

    Jami, Praying for you friend. I am so thinking about you and Brian and his family. What a wonderful man he was. I am so glad we got to know him. Brian is a lot like his dad indeed. God blessed you with a wonderful family Jami. Let me know if he has a service so we can attend. God is blessed to have him with him in heaven. We love you Jami and Brian.

  35.  Barbara says

    Your father-in-law’s godly sweetness just jumped off my computer screen and into my heart. I wished I had known him. I’m sure you miss him terribly but because of our Hope, you will one day see him again. He has truly left you and your family a priceless inheritance.

    Blessings, Sister,

    Missouri Barb

  36.  Sakura says

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful mans story. I’m sorry for your loss, our prayers are with you.

  37.  Jackie says

    Jami, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for sharing some of his life story. He sounds like he was a truly wonderful man.
    Take care.

  38.  says

    What a beautiful beautiful post and tribute to a wonderful man. I am so very sorry for your loss of this wonderful father-in-law. It sounds as if he fathered many more in his life than just his immediate family.

  39.  Charlotte Moore says

    What a sweet tribute to a man that seemed to love GOD, family, and life to the fullest. What more could anyone ask for? So sorry for your loss. GOD doesn’t make mistakes and nothing takes HIM by surprise.

    Thanks for sharing!!!!

  40.  says

    What a lovely tribute to your sweet Dad. He surely touched many lives with his generous, caring and loving ways. Our hearts go out to you and Brian. ~~~Mary

  41.  says

    Jami, my heart breaks for you and your loss. What a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law! I bet he felt you were as much as a blessing to him as he was to you…
    My thoughts and prayers will be with you…
    ~ Joanie

  42.  Bruce Yuill says

    Sorry to hear this. My mother went that way 10 years ago. She was 71. Fought it for 7 months from diagnosis to passing. I was living in the Philippines at the time and she told me not to come home. It’s tough whether you’re there or not. It’s best to always remember the good times.
    My prayers to you and yours.
    – Bruce

  43.  Patrick Brandon says

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this time of great loss. His spirit and love of life, God, and people, remind me of my own father, and will live on in all of the special people in his life. Thanks for taking the time to share with us the wonderful life of a good man. He was also very blessed to have a daughter-in-law like you to write up such a kind and loving tribute to him. God bless you.

  44.  says

    I only know you through your blog so I hope it will be comforting and not creepy to know that your tribute to your father in law inspired a blog post of my own. It realy made me think about how I am living my life. Thank you so much for sharing him in such a way.

  45.  says

    Stephanie was right, this is a beautiful tribute Jami! Praying for you all as you go through this. I was out of the country when you first posted this, but I lost my dad last year, only in his 60’s, so I know how difficult it is. Love to you all.

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