Gary Hathcock

In general, I don’t think a father-in-law is supposed to mean so much to the girl his son married.  I don’t apologize for this, but my thoughts and feelings about him don’t outline the supposed law of ‘father by marriage.’  My parents are second to my husband and then just below my sister and grandmother are my in-laws…as much a part of me as anything physical.

Grateful doesn’t really cut it, because while I will always be eternally in debt for getting to know him as well as I did, I’ll also wish it were for longer.  Grateful doesn’t bring people back.

Honored isn’t right, though it is.  Two of my favorite pictures of him are at our wedding, and I’m honored that he would share his son with me…that he would drive so far for our wedding…that he would consider me a daughter.  Being honored makes the separation harder.

So I sit here in my hotel room with lots of work to do and the sting of his leaving us still heavy on my life.  My promise was never to be good at adjectives or saying how I feel.  I’d never make that promise to myself or anyone else.  But to take a stab at it, I feel lost without him, knowing that our lives will always be different and weird in some way.  Also, other than my parents, I’ve never made a serious goal of trying to be more like another person…we should be happy with our own inconsistencies and achievements.  But I hope to turn a lot of this grief into an education of how to live.  I want to look back at this time years from now and still remember how much he loved his family, how Jesus Christ was the most important thing in his life, and how unimportant the office job is when all things are considered.  I want to remember his laugh, his singing voice, his sense of peace-making among the brothers.  I am writing this down to later recall his old car, torn suitcases, 92 cent flashlights, plaid button-down shirts.  The fact that he’d never write a paragraph with as many “I” statements as this one.  Charles Dickens, chess, intense Bible study, the white shirt he wore to the beach.  Calluses on his hands from hard labor, Tar heels basketball, light looking and M&M cookies.  The lower spot on his side of the bed where he spent hours on his knees in prayer.

I wish more people had known him so that they could have a better idea of how we all should live.  I’m lucky to take his lessons with me, and hope to someday know the peace that he now knows.

And my greatest wish for anyone I’ve ever cared about is that you’ll leave this earth with the life behind you and the future ahead of you that Gary Hathcock claims.

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~ by Lindsey on 14 April 2009.

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