I remember the very first time I met my father-in-law. It was early in the morning. My husband had picked me up from Miami airport at around midnight and we drove all night to his parents’ home in Ormond Beach. I was so nervous because I didn’t know how I would be received.
My husband’s father emerged from the hallway with a huge smile and his arms were out to hug me. He was so happy to see me and I felt so welcomed.
Even though God is my Heavenly Father, I think He knew that I needed to have a father who could show me what a real father ought to be. Over the years my father-in-law did many of the things I imagined a father would— he showed me how to make spaghetti sauce and to roast red peppers, he shared stories from his past, and we would go to the local Farmer’s market and thrift stores.
My father-in-law was the father figure I never had as a child— he gave me encouragement and accepted me. I think God blessed me with him because my other earthly fathers fell short—my biological father had basically abandoned me after my parents divorced, and my stepfather was a pedophile.
I felt more like my father-in-law’s adopted daughter than his daughter-in-law, and I called him, “Dad,” because in my heart that’s what he was to me. I wanted him to be proud of me— for being a good wife and mother, and for my personal accomplishments. He died before I received my doctorate degree, but I know he would have been proud.
Today is his birthday and I mourn his death, but I am thankful that he was in my life—“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father…” (James 1:17, NLT), and I know one day I will see him again. God is good!