I had hoped to write this post a few weeks ago. It’s been a rough one.
Tuesday, June 11th, marked the one year anniversary of my Father-In-Law’s passing. I had planned on having a blog post all set so that I could post it on that Tuesday. It just didn’t work out that way.
John Alan Sidlo was born on October 31, 1942, to John and Hattie Julia (Lawera) Sidlo. On September 2, 1956, John lost his father at the age of 13.
John later joined the Marine Corps.
He fought in Vietnam.
He was exposed to Agent Orange.
It was the beginning of the end, but that was unknown at the time.
He came home and did things that ‘normal’ folks did –
spent time with family, friends, etc.
On June 16, 1974, he got married. His bride was widowed and had three children – 9, 7, and 4. He had no problem with an ‘instant family’ that a 31 year old may have.
During the next 38 years, “Papa” would see 2 of his 3 children get married (sorry, Papa – we married in Hawaii without telling you first!). He celebrated the college graduations of his two oldest grandchildren. His daughter went back to school, finished up her degree, got her teaching certificate, and now teaches Special Education.
Papa had 5 grandchildren altogether. He loved to spoil each one. The mailman, UPS, and FedEx drivers all knew who he was. He was always ordering something from some catalog somewhere. Internet? He wouldn’t hear of it until a few years ago when he realized that he couldn’t play his PC games without connecting online for updates.
PC Games? If Papa didn’t have his headphones on, you would think you were in the middle of a war zone. You would be hiding under the kitchen table. Call of Duty was a favorite and my husband and Papa bonded over the games.
Of course, there was politics. Many a family dinner was interrupted with some sort of political or religious discussion. You would hear the rest of us moan. Once, just once, I made the mistake of trying to dissolve a heated debate between Papa and my husband. They both told me to mind my own business! After that, I just left them alone.
He had several pets through the years – Rusty, his latest pet – a golden retriever that he spoiled rotten. Papa and Rusty spent many hours together – paw in hand. Rusty will lay down and just want you to hold his back paw. Papa more than obliged.
Papa had recently celebrated his second oldest granddaughter’s graduation from college. He seemed to be feeling OK, except he was having stomach pains. They continued to get worse. Long story short – he went into the hospital – we had decisions to make – he came home on Friday and by Monday afternoon, he was gone.
This year, on the one year anniversary of his death, we met at a local Steakhouse – something he always wanted us to do, but we never did. We were all there. I created a slideshow/video of all the things that happened throughout the year since he’d been gone. I did the video as if I were speaking to him. I was going to share it with the family after we went back to the house after dinner. One of the last slides stated,
“We’ll be looking for signs that you are with us – we are all together and finally eating at Tom’s steakhouse.”
We all walked out of the restaurant together, laughing and celebrating his life. As we walked out the door, the first car in front of us was hard to miss:
We got the sign – loud and clear.
I love the photo – genealogy coincidences are everywhere 🙂
Thanks! It really makes you wonder…
Wendy, this is a generous and heartfelt tribute to your Father-in-Law. After the tragedies of Vietnam and Agent Orange, he poured himself into a full life, with children and grandchildren and PC games and politics and pets. Wise decisions, all. You describe a man who was able, even after a war, to emanate love and joy to those around him. You’ve celebrated his life to the full.
Thanks so much for the wonderful reply. Yes, he was able to experience many things in his life and he was certainly all about family, especially once the grand kids came. 🙂
He lived a good life – as with many things, those of us left to carry on want him around much longer. He was only 69.
“In-laws” often don’t get along, but you’ve proven you’re the exception, not the rule with this memorial. Sounds like he was as much your Papa as he was your husband’s. I bet he’d love to read this post!
Thank you! Yes, I think of him often since he’s been gone. I also surprised my mother-in-law when I called her ‘Ma’. Not ‘Mom’, which is my mother, but ‘Ma’. No first name. I meant it. I guess I am pretty lucky! 🙂
As always a nicely written essay. I enjoy reading your blog very much.
Thank you so much for your nice comment/compliment! I didn’t want to give out ‘living family’ information so I wasn’t sure if it was going to still come across OK.
I really appreciate the fact that you took time to read and then comment on my blog!