Monday it will be six weeks since the phone call. My father-in-law died suddenly at 58. We cried, packed, and prayed, then jumped on a plane from South Mexico to Kentucky, USA.
Kevin died of a massive heart attack. It happened on the way to work, while he was taking his morning nap. He always let one of his employees drive so he could catch a few extra Z’s. That was our Dad.
There is a small amount of peace knowing that Kevin didn’t suffer. He just fell asleep. The most difficult part of this death is the fact that none of us knew it was coming. He wasn’t overweight, he didn’t smoke, he was a full-time trim carpenter, he rode his bike 24 miles two days before, and even his yearly check-up didn’t show any signs of heart trouble.
The grief our family is feeling is deep. I can’t even explain it. I didn’t know how special this man was to me till he was gone. My heart breaks for my mom-in-law, my husband, and all of Kevin’s large and loving family. I especially hurt for my children who loved their Papaw so very much.
A Terrific Dad
Now I have an awesome dad myself. Kevin was not a replacement father for me. Instead, over time, I simply inherited a second father. My parents have been married for over forty years. For the longest time, I heard them call their in-laws “Mom” and “Dad”. I often wondered if I would ever feel that inclined with heartfelt love to call my in-laws “Mom” and “Dad”.
It took more than 15 years but when it happened to me, calling my husband’s parents and even grandparents, Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa, felt natural. Now I have two moms and two dads whom I love very much. When I called Kevin “Dad” I hope he understood how special that one little word is to me. Only two men have earned that title in my eyes.
Now you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with a wax ball. Well, I wrote a little story for Kevin’s family and friends that was read at his Memorial. The writing was therapy for me. It reminded me how real and special this man was, and how much faith I have that his grandchildren will play with him again.
The Wax Ball
Did you know our Kevin?
Did you know the last few months Kevin has been using the wax from Becky’s favorite cheese to build a giant wax ball? When we were visiting in the spring Misty and I were sneaking him wax under the table. Now it sits on his desk and I am still adding wax to it. I don’t know why but I can’t throw the wax away.
Did you know that Kevin took longer getting ready than Becky? Yep, he took longer grooming and primping and Becky would be waiting to leave, reminding him of the time.
Did you know he loved reading science fiction and he loved to gaze up at the stars? When his boys were small he took them outside to sleep on top of his old work van and they watched a meteoroid shower together.
Did you know he loved to go on bike rides with his close friends and his sons? Becky will swear that Kevin had the best lookin’ legs this side of the Mississippi from all those long bike rides.
Did you know Kevin read books with his grandkids, ate popcorn, and said prayers with them every night they stayed at his house? It was a bedtime tradition for all of them to pile into Mamaw’s and Papaw’s bed before going to sleep.
Did you know he was a bit of a hoarder when it came to his tools? His sons named his garage Frankenshed because they were four sheds combined into one garage. It was like navigating a maze to find the right tool for the right job.
Did you know Kevin saved jokes on his phone so that he wouldn’t forget them? Then he would surprise his friends with corny hillbilly or hippy jokes.
Did you know Kevin prayed and studied with his wife on a regular basis even when she was feeling down? He told her every day that she was beautiful. They fell in love at 16 and maintained that love over 40 years.
Did you know he was always there for Bradley during his arm accident and his brain injury and through all the painful healing that followed? The same goes for Chad and his Crohn’s disease. In the hospital, Kevin took Misty to the side and said a prayer with her. He loved his daughter-in-laws.
This man was not a man of many words but perhaps that is what many of us loved about him. Kevin had a sensitive heart and he loved his family, friends, and his congregation. You don’t always need words to express your love. Actions speak louder and Kevin’s actions spoke volumes.
We know he loved Jehovah God from the years he spent in service to him. His record was exemplary. Kevin taught his sons to love Jehovah, and they in turn will teach their sons. Sawyer said a prayer for our family the other night before bed. He said “Please Jehovah help Mamaw, Uncle Chad, Aunt Misty, Dad, and Mom. Help us to not be sad. We will see Papaw in paradise.”
May we all learn from Kevin’s example.
- Make a wax ball if it makes you feel good, no matter how dorky it may seem.
- Eat popcorn and read books with your grandkids before bed.
- Save corny jokes on your phone to lift someone’s spirits when they need a laugh.
- Tell your wife she is beautiful every day and say a prayer with her before bed.
- Teach your sons to stay faithful, never give up, and be good fathers.
If Satan can’t break your integrity he’ll try to break your heart. It breaks our heart that Kevin is gone. But Satan will not win. Our power comes from Jehovah. As long as we remain faithful we will see Kevin and ALL our loved ones again very soon. Kevin is safe in Jehovah’s memory.
As a very good friend once told us, “Jehovah fix!”
When Kevin is resurrected he will ask what happened?
“I was just sleeping. I was dreaming about Becky, my kids, Alexis, Taylor, Sawyer, and Tristan. Then I woke up here.”
After we scold him for leaving us, we can give him a big hug. Maybe the wax ball will have survived the Great Tribulation and we can show him our progress. I know his face will light up in surprise and laughter over his crazy red ball of wax.
That was our Kevin. He would want us to smile and laugh and be happy. Most importantly he would want us to be faithful and endure till the end.
When Kevin wakes up in Paradise he can play arredador with his grandkids, he can beat us at a game of Ticket to Ride, he can start a new home improvement project with Becky, he can finish teaching Chad how to build curved staircases, he can take Sawyer on that backhoe ride, and we know he will help Jehovah rebuild the Earth. Maybe instead of gazing at the stars he can explore them with his family beside him. This hope is the real life.
What Does “Jehovah Fix” Mean?
For me, everything. My faith, (that Jehovah God will fix this world), is the only hope I have for my loved ones that I have lost to death. I just wrote this paragraph about death, (with minor edits), in an interview for an expat site I may, or may not, collaborate with.
Death. That is the hardest part of being an expat. You might be thinking, “Everybody dies eventually.” Yeah well, I am not referring to your death. I am talking about the death of people you love. This death is worse. These people live over 2000 miles away from you. Maybe it’s your 94-year-old grandmother, your 80-year-old grandfather, or your 58-year-old father, but either way you can’t be with your loved ones during their last days in this old world. It might be cancer or a very unexpected massive heart attack. Maybe you said good-bye over Skype, in-person, or maybe you didn’t have the chance to say good-bye at all. Either way, I can tell you from personal experience, (because all of this happened to us in the last nine months), it stinks. Sometimes being an expat isn’t a glorious, fancy, affair. Actually, most of the time it’s not. It is just life. A different life. And sometimes it stinks.
My faith in a better future provides me with strength and courage to face obstacles in my life and defeat them. It helps me get through the good days and the bad days. Sometimes defeating obstacles may be more like climbing up a mountain of nails on my hands and bare feet, but in the end, it is still defeat. Jehovah fix.
I have said it before and I will say it again now, “This blog isn’t a place for me to preach to you.” Yes, I am doing missionary work with my family in Mexico, and yes, I have faith. But this blog; it’s simply a place for me to write my thoughts and to share my love of photography. And maybe, just maybe, make you laugh or inspire you with positive thoughts, along the way.
Life goes on. Kevin would want our life to go on. He gave his family a legacy of love, respect, and hard work. He was a terrific dad. We will see Kevin again. We will welcome him back with smiles and tears. It will happen. Hopefully with that wax ball in hand, for a few hearty laughs.
This is my faith, my courage, and my hope. And all of the above is my tribute to a terrific dad. Signing off, Tina
P.S. For more information regarding my Bible-based beliefs you can visit JW.org.