Monday, February 6, 2017
I'd like to tell you a little about my father in law Danny, who passed away a few weeks ago. Danny was a part of my life for more than thirty years and it's hard to imagine a world that doesn't have him in it. Although he wasn't in the best of health, Danny's passing was sudden and very much unexpected. No one saw this coming. Danny had more than his share of health scares in the past, but he always bounced back. This time was different.
You often hear people complain about their in-laws; they meddle, they judge, they complain. I have no such complaints. I've been blessed with in-laws that are loving, supportive and positive. Even when I first showed up at his house as a skinny teenager driving his daughter around on a motorcycle, Danny was nothing but nice to me. Sometimes his niceness was disguised as giving me a hard time about anything from the way I was dressed or how bad I was at playing cards but it was always said with a grin or a laugh. Kidding around and giving people a hard time was something Danny was very good at. It was pointed out to me early on that was how you knew Danny liked you and you only need to worry if he stopped teasing you. Danny was able to find the humor in just about anything. It's not a surprise that as I look through all the pictures of him that the family recently compiled, in most of the shots he is laughing.
As much as he joked around, Danny was a no nonsense kind of guy when it came to working on something. If you asked him to help you with a job, your doorbell would ring at 7:00 sharp and you had better be ready for him or you'd hear about it. He worked hard and efficiently, seldom taking breaks for longer than it took to open a fresh Pepsi. He was an expert painter, but there really wasn't much he didn't know how to do and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and experience. More than once, Danny bailed me out on home improvement projects that didn't go quite according to plan. I got some good natured ribbing along the way, but always with a laugh and a smile.
Mostly, I admired Danny because he did what he needed to do, even if that meant making big changes in his lifestyle. As a younger man he was a drinker. When he decided he needed to leave that life behind, he stopped drinking and didn't look back. A life long smoker, he had health trouble in his 40's that resulted in bypass surgery. The doctor told him if he didn't want to end up back in the hospital or worse, he needed to quit smoking. He quit cold turkey and never smoked again. Years later he was told that he wasn't getting enough exercise so he started walking daily, a regimen he maintained for the rest of his life. The thing is, he didn't really WANT to do any of those things at the time but he recognized what needed to be done and he did it. I try to adopt that mentality when I can, but I complain more than he did.
In the short time since his death, I resumed marathon training with very little enthusiasm. More than once I've found myself in the middle of a workout with thoughts of quitting. Thinking of Danny and his work ethic has helped me to keep plodding along. My enthusiasm is slowly returning but when I'm just not feeling it, I think about Danny and I do what needs to be done.