My father-in-law, Jack Glass, died on New Year’s Day.
We had known he did not all that much time left — he was suffering from pneumonia after being hospitalized for a stroke. He had spent a lot of time in the hospital following a bad fall in February, and was still weak. Nonetheless, as with any death, when you get the call telling you, it is hard. Losing a parent is horrible, as I well know.
I think all of us expected Jack to pull through: there had been so many times in the past that we thought he was done for, and he recovered. Jack was, if anything, a fighter. I expect that when the Grim Reaper showed up, Jack kicked and hollered the entire way. The man did not give up.
My relationship with my father-in-law was, for a long time … complicated. From the start, he and I disagreed about just about everything. Over the years I think we developed mutual respect and affection, even though we still disagreed about everything. (Except football.)
I learned a great deal from my relationship with Jack:
I learned that it is still possible to love people with whom you disagree. Even when you disagree about important things.
I learned that it is important to recognize that people on “the other side” really aren’t — there is only one side, and all humanity is on it. We ignore this at our peril.
I learned to recognize that what we share with each other is more important than what we don’t.
I learned I’m not always right about things. I learned I need to listen to people more. I learned that being judgmental is bad for me.
I learned that even if I disagree with someone, I can still enjoy being around them, especially watching football.
I learned that what people do is a better indicator of their character than what they say.
I am glad that I visited him on Christmas Day, and that the last words I said to him were “I love you.” (One of the things I learned from Mom’s death was that it is important to tell people that.) I wish I had told him how much he had taught me.
Jack Glass was a good man. I will miss him.