I was blessed to have wonderful in-laws. My father in law was an undertaker – a kind and caring man with compassion for everyone. His job was not an easy one. Add the fact that they made their home in the upstairs quarters of the big mansion which housed the funeral home.
He passed away at 56 years of age. It was far too young for this man, but many years of hypertension and cigarette smoking took him before his time. He died as he lived – peacefully. He never lived to see his grandchildren. His wife suffered greatly at his loss and grew more and more paranoid and disturbed as time went on for her.
During his short life, he accepted the occupation of his father, and carried it forward into a time when the neighborhood had become run down. It was the location in Milwaukee in which many race riots occurred in the sixties. Still, he persisted keeping the business going and doing the best possible job he could. He was determined, dedicated and had a genuine sympathy for the families that came to him for service.
He was active in his church. Took his children fishing and swimming. Taught them how to be independent, with great people skills. He also gave them a Christian upbringing, a quiet sense of humor and enjoyed a good laugh.
I never got to know him well in the short years I knew him, but his legacy was passed down to his children. Both my husband and his sister have the ability to work through difficult times, stand tall in adversity and have an amazing work ethic because of the example their father set for them.
The greatest gift he gave his children, was his love for God. Their home was only a block from the church, so there were no excuses for not attending. He came from a German heritage, with strict upbringing, but his gentle spirit made him a great dad, because he had the best of both things.
I wish my children had known him, but they see him in their own father. He continues to live in him and the lessons they’ve learned will be carried on to their children as well.
We tend to immortalize those who have passed before us, but I sincerely believe my father-in-law had a great influence on me, even though I didn’t know him for long. I thank God everyday for producing the son that would eventually become my husband and for giving me a chance to see the beauty of the relationship that grew through them.