Monday, May 16, 2016

A Passing Generation

This past Friday, my father-in-law passed from this life into the next. He had been in an assisted living facility for a year and a half after falling and breaking his hip. A little over a month ago, he celebrated his 95th birthday and it became increasingly clear that his life on this earth was nearing its end. He became unresponsive on Thursday, and on Friday took his final breath.

There has been grieving, as is normal when a loved one is no longer there, but there is also a sense of relief and a knowledge that his suffering is over and he is now completely whole and at peace. There is also a sense that things are now different, as the last of our parents has passed from the scene. This generation has been called the "greatest generation," and there is a sense in which this is true. They defeated the greatest threat to the world up to that time, and came back to build a country that became the most influential on earth.

My father-in-law was a good example of that generation. Charlie left a small town in Iowa to move to Washington, DC and begin a career with the FBI. He began as a clerk, going to school at night to get a college degree in order to become a special agent. This career was interrupted by war and he joined the navy and served in the Pacific as a signalman on a troop transport. His ship was torpedoed by the Japanese and survived a typhoon. After returning to the US, he was promoted to special agent. He served in that position for twenty four years.

After retiring from government service, Charlie spent a few years as head of security at a local bank. I met him after he retired when I began to date his youngest daughter. From the start, I felt completely accepted. I was made to feel like part of the family. For some reason my father-in-law thought I was pretty special. When he moved into the facility in 2014, I hung some plates on his wall. I have a decent eye so I was able to hang them pretty straight without using a level. Charlie was always telling people who came in to see him that I had done such an amazing job of hanging them straight by just eyeballing them. He continually told me what a good son-in-law I was and how glad he was that I had married his daughter. He was always a huge encouragement to me..

Charlie's sense of humor was a source of amusement for all of us. From him, we learned how a crow lights on a limb. We also learned that if you didn't know where someone was, they were probably on a night train to Memphis, and we also learned the answer to the question, "Think all this rain will hurt the rhubarb?" (Answer: Not if it's in cans) My father-in-law, along with my mother-in-law got along very well with my parents, so it was a joy to be able to get to together with all four of them when we visited, and later when all four moved to be near us.

Charlie Parkis is at rest with his Savior. I am grateful for the way he accepted me as if I was his son and for the encouragement he was to our family. He will be missed, but we know we will see him again some day.  


KC Bob said...

Loved what you wrote about your father-in-law Fred. It was such a blessing to have an older man like him in your life. Asking God to comfort you in this time of transition and grieving.

Fred Shope said...

Thanks Bob!

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