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Rest in Peace, Daddy Dale

December 9, 2014

My father-in-law, the man I call Dale here in this journal, died yesterday. His health had been declining for quite some time, and after his most reent hospitalization in late September he went into in-home hospice care. I last saw him at Thanksgiving and wasn’t able to interact with him in what felt like any meaningful way, his sight, hearing, stamina, mobility, and other faculties all having been all greatly diminished by that point. To my eyes and ears, he was weaker than my own dad had been before he passed, so I thought I wouldn’t be surprised when word eventually and inevitably came that he’d died, yet somehow when Mr. Karen told me, I was a little shocked. I guess since he’d lingered this long I thought he’d just keep at it while longer. Mr. Karen’s mom Joan once told me that the secret to their long marriage was that they were both stubborn, and I suppose at some level I thought Dale would be too stubborn to leave us before being around for one last Christmas at least.

But now he has left us. His memory will live on, of course, in family and friends and parishioners from his decades in the ministry, and also in the memoir he wrote after he retired. We have a printed copy of the July, 1998 version on the shelves in our living room; he continued to write updates after that, though up through which year I’m not sure. I pulled it off the shelf this morning and paged through some of the chapters. It felt comforting to know his version of the family stories was documented there, not lost like so many people’s are.

My FIL's memoir

In some ways, this doesn’t feel like my loss to grieve. I’m family by marriage, not nature or nurture, and didn’t have an especially close personal relationship with him. Still, there is a hole in the fabric of my life now that he’s gone—I went on more vacations and attended more family reunions and church services with Dale than I did my own father, though my dad had the edge in phone conversations and letters (remember letters, on paper, with stamps?). Before glaucoma took so much of his eyesight, Dale read this journal, something my dad never had a chance to, since he left this world before I started writing here.

But the hole in my life left by Dale’s passing is miniscule compared to those of the people closest to me who knew and loved him. My heart hurts for them. For Joan, especially—she and Dale celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past June. That’s more time together than most couples get, which I suppose might be some comfort at some point, once the pain of losing him is less fresh. I hope that we who love her do half as good a job of supporting her in her grief as she did supporting Dale at the end of his days.


On this date in 2013: No entry
2012: Candy Is Dandy
2011: Flaky
2010: Now I Know My ABCs
2009: No Vaccine for This
2008: It Was Okay
2007: Contrast
2006: Run Like the Dickens
2005: Winter Count—March
2004: Stressed
2003: TP
2002: No entry

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  1. Mary Says:

    I’m so sorry, Karen.

  2. KarenD Says:

    Thank you, Mary.

  3. Melanie Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. KarenD Says:

    Thank you, Melanie.

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