Monday 5th February 2018
On February 1st, I was sitting alone in our family room, looking up through the skylights at the brilliant blue sky (unusual for England, especially in winter) and said aloud, "Dad, if you're ready to go, this would be a good day for traveling." Not ten minutes later my husband, who was out walking our dog, called to say his father had 'just passed'.
My father-in-law had been a widow since 2016. Boxing Day night he suffered a fall culminating in hip replacement surgery three days later and after two weeks in the hospital, he went to a care home, where he knew he would live out his days. He never really regained his strength—or his will—to go on living after the surgery. He was tired. He kept saying he wanted to go home—home to God.
My father-in-law was an amazing person. Humble, funny, kind, loving, romantic, appreciative, practical, creative, musical. He lived his life as it was dealt to him, without complaint, never wanting to make a fuss. Born shortly after the end of World War I, he enlisted in the RAF at 18 to serve in WWII. Having never travelled farther than 60 miles from his home in the northeast of England, he was sent on a troop ship around Africa to Port Sudan, then to Alexandra, Egypt, and finally Ancona, Italy. His close friend in Italy had shown Dad a picture of his sister, Daphne. When his friend was killed in a plane crash, Dad brought his effects home to his family. He met Daphne. They fell in love and remained in love for their 70 years of marriage.
Dad's life story could be said to be the foundation for all my books. My stories always involve ordinary people facing the extraordinary. My books are not biographies, but they do evolve from listening to the experiences of the many fascinating people I have met who were either challenged by life events, or created life events that became challenging. My father-in-law. The petite, delicate lady who drove a Model T from Maine to Venezuela, the elegantly attired lady who taught school in the 1950's in Labrador. A US math teacher who was part of a skiing unit committing acts of sabotage in Norway during WWII. Just to name a few.
Dad grew up in a poor household, and in his later years he was always comfortable, but he was not wealthy. However, I will always think of him as a rich man because his was a life rich with experiences and with the challenges he'd met. His was a life lived to its fullest. An ordinary person facing the extraordinary.