I had it all figured out. Post #200 was going to be a little bit sad and a bit uplifting, steeped in parental poignancy. And I was in rare form; I had the pictures ready to go before I even began a rough narrative. (Photographs are normally an eleventh-hour pursuit for me.) I was ready to write.
But then life happened. I haven’t written that particular post (but pics are waiting in the wings, though…yay); it will just have to wait. Something else needed to be written and posted first, still sad, and also uplifting:
Do not put off the things on your bucket list. Start doing them. Someday you will not be able to do them. Don’t be the one saying, “I wish I had.” Be the one saying “I am so glad I did.”
These are the words of a wise man. A man who didn’t just dole out this advice but chose to live by it. This man treated each and every day of his life as a gift and made everyone he met better for it. His resume is impressive: U.S. Marine. Iowa State Trooper. Boy Scout Scoutmaster. Author. Contributor to the Special Olympics. World Traveler. Husband, father and grandfather. Big kid. Especially the big kid.
When this incredible man, one of the original good guys, breathed his final breath, his only regret was he wouldn’t see his grandchildren grow up.
My father-in-law lived a full, selfless life. He made the world a better place and did good for the sake of just that. He expected no praise or recognition or payback. He gave of himself because that’s just who he was. He has left a legacy, a torch of humanity to pass on. With or without the intention of doing so, he set a high bar for the rest of us to follow.
It’s a bar worth rising to: Give and be kind. Live life fully. Kick that bucket (list) to Kingdom Come.
Each day is a gift. Unwrap it, embrace it, and
don’t waste it.
And fill it with humor. A week before he died, he was featured on the national news, having had a reunion with a young man whose life he saved 30 years ago. The last text thread I shared with him was this:
That was my father-in-law. He always had a joke in his back pocket.
He has been an inspiration. Without his example, I doubt I would have seen pulseonparenting,com to 200 posts. I doubt I would have posted the personal stories, the mistakes I’ve made as a parent, and the sometimes contrary opinions for a far-reaching internet audience. In the 30 years I knew my second dad, he taught me to grasp the bull by the horns and live a full life and to fire his pistol at oversized zucchini from the family garden. That’s just the kind of guy he was.
Miss you so much.