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Nov 30

Love and Evolution

People die. When they die unexpectedly, those who were close to them are left shocked, dismayed, upset, and missing a piece of their heart. That is where my family finds themselves as we mourn the loss of someone who was close to all of us recently. My wife’s uncle passed away from a massive heart attack. He was 57.

To simply state that he was her uncle does not accurately explain how important he was to my wife, or his family. He was the person that brought the family together. He was the father figure that my own father-in-law had failed to be in my wife’s adult life. He was a great guy, one of two people in the world that I ever allowed to call me Chadwick without a cross look of disapproval. No. My wife is not the other.

His role in my wife’s life was revolutionized as she graduated high school. Her own father’s destructive behaviors became embarrassing, upsetting, and at times vile. He stood up to his brother, her father, when she needed it most. He went on to play the buffer role between them. Once space was made, he took on the role of father figure to her, even if it felt like he was so far away. Whenever he was in town, life stopped so that they could have time together.

I have a profound amount of respect for him. He wanted his niece to do more than dream her dreams. He wanted her to achieve those dreams, and be the woman that she desired to be. Without him in her life, I doubt that she would be who she is today. He didn’t mold her to be who she is, but he definitely provided affirmation and support along the way.

I’m not sure if he consciously took on the role of father figure to my wife. I don’t know. I can’t say for sure. I never had the chance to ask him.  I can say that I witnessed their interactions pre and post  the “moment that shaped the relationship”, and there was a change.

He evolved as a man, his relationship with my wife was revolutionized. He was amazing. I thank him for that.

This brings us to my wife, who is somewhat skeptical of my opinion. She changes people. If you spend enough time around her, she will change you for the better. I guarantee it. She changed me. She changed her uncle. She changes anyone that is around her who pays attention. It’s her gift.

I don’t think that was lost on her uncle. I truly believe that was why he “threw down” with his brother. It wasn’t “just” that my wife was his niece. He could have done plenty of other things to stand up for her against his brother that night. But he took the stand that needed to be taken, not the stance that was easy, or convenient. He took a very big stand. And I think that if he hadn’t, my wife wouldn’t be the same person that she is today.

I’m thankful for his place in my wife’s life. My wife changed me. I have evolved as a human being purely from being around my wife. When she is at her best, she will challenge your ideals, she will push you to answer questions that you may not want to answer. She has expanded my horizons. She has expanded how I handle things. She has made me a better man. To an extent, without him, I don’t think I would be who I am.

She helped me evolve. She has made me a more accepting, caring, loving man.
She revolutionized her relationship with her uncle. He became more than a “favorite uncle”. He became her father figure.

But, for the evolution that I’ve seen, I’ve seen de-evolution as well. But that’s not her fault. My father in law is a drunk. At times, an insufferable, crude, teenage drunk. I could go on and on about the things my wife has told me. I could write 1000 words about what I’ve witnessed. I could write you to sleep, and still not cover everything. But, I wont do that. I will try to keep it short and sweet.

When my wife and I got engaged, I sought our her mother’s blessing. I knew that it was more important to have her mother’s blessing than her father’s. So, it came time to tell my father-in-law to be that we were getting married, and oh by the way, congratulations, you’re going to be a grandfather! We settled on going early, the goal was to get him while he was sober. Get him out of the house. Get some breakfast, and have a decent time.

Unfortunately, 8:30 am was too late in the day to catch him sober. We showed up hoping to take him to breakfast, and tell him the news. When we walked in, the pyramid of Natural Lite Cans was already started on the coffee table. He was good and sauced. Not only did we not get the chance to take him to breakfast, we didn’t get to tell him we were getting married. We didn’t have a chance to tell him he was going to be a grandfather. And, we never told him either. That was my wife’s choice.

I believe that day was probably the last chance my father in law had at gaining some foothold in her life as her father. From that moment on, he may have been the man who gave her the DNA that made her who she was, but he was never going to be dad again. He was never going to be the guy she hoped he would be.

Which from all accounts, is almost a tragedy. My Father in Law, was supposedly a pretty good guy when my wife was a kid. He was a good father. He was a funny guy. He was charismatic. He was cool. And my wife was a daddy’s girl. But, when it came time to choose who he wanted to spend his time with, he often chose Natural Lite over his daughter.

The de-evolution of her father, gave rise to the evolution of her uncle, and the revolution of their relationship. And that relationship wasn’t marred by the distance between them. It wasn’t marred by the time that they didn’t get to talk on the phone. It wasn’t marred by anything. If he was in town, normal life stopped. It was time to spend the day, an evening, whatever, with Uncle Larry. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was everything that you need in an in law, and not much of what you didn’t.

And here we are. Remembering the man he was. Celebrating his life. Sitting in our home, that we were so excited to show him. While we are happy for the time that we had with him, and I celebrate the man he was, and the impact on my wife’s life, we are deeply saddened by the man we lost.

2 comments

  1. Linda

    Wow Chad what an amazing piece! I can’t stop crying not just for the loss of a wonderful man but on your insite to the whole situation. Thank you so much for being my daughters husband but for also being her friend and love of her life. You are one amazing, wonderful man and I am so happy u are in my life!

  2. Athena

    I will never understand why you love me so much, but I am so happy that you do. I couldn’t get through this without you.

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