My father-in-law turns 89 tomorrow. We’re celebrating his latest trip around the sun with a trip to a restaurant tonight.
I really do like my FIL. He has his moments of cranky-old-man-ness (who doesn’t?) but when he’s “on,” he’s nothing short of delightful.
He’s still in possession of all his faculties, though he has always been a little flaky (he’s literally a Mensa genius – and a Ph.D. – I’ve always just thought of him as the typical absent-minded professor). He’s got a quirky sense of humor, he’s quick to laugh, and he’s able to tell an engaging and complex story (I particularly like the stories he tells of traveling in Europe with his young children).
He loves his family dearly, though he’s not particularly demonstrative. He supported a significant portion of addition without his wife’s knowing; he’d slip checks into my husband’s pockets and silently admonish him to keep it between us. He’ll consent to be hugged, but he would never instigate such an act. He has been known to quietly well up at Christmas dinner. I’ll whisper that I love him as I’m giving him a goodbye hug, and he gives me a characteristic wink and nod which I interpret to mean that he loves me, too, though he’s never said so in words.
It occurs to me that I may not have too many more years to celebrate my father-in-law’s presence in my life, so I’m going to this birthday dinner with a heightened awareness. I intend to listen more closely, to look more carefully, and to make sure he knows, on no uncertain terms, that I care about him very much.