This week, my husband went to visit his stepdad at the hospital. When he came home, he told me he wasn't well, but he thought that he'd pull out of it. A couple hours later, we found out that wasn't going to be the case. While Keith's death wasn't expected, it was not exactly a surprise. Ever since my mother-in-law lost her battle with cancer almost 7 years ago, Keith had slowly lost his spunk in living. If ever a man loved his wife, Keith loved Faye. He thrived taking care of her, insuring her happiness, and loving her big family...well, big.
David's family is kind of huge. He is one of five boys. All the boys have families and his mom was married to his stepdad longer than she was to his dad. David's dad called Keith his "husband in law" and we all got together in the same home for the holidays. While that may seem a little crazy, it worked. In fact, after Faye's passing, Keith and even his new wife would attend family functions at the Henleys. For all the things I gained when I married my husband, what I gained most is family. A family that loves immensely, looks past what society says when it comes to how you should respond to situations, and just accepts everyone. We fill up several rooms, sit at cafeteria style picnic tables and there is no more laughter to be had when our family gets together.
When David and I were about to get married, his mom's health was really deteriorating, and we spent a lot of weekends in her and Keith's home. A lot of times, the three of us (Brent, too), spent nights in the "vasement" (Brent's four year old nasal voice was so cute) of the Johnson house. Keith loved Brent. He was his PawPaw Keith... and not his step-grandpa... He was the real deal. He gave him piggyback rides, rode him on the Gator, let him feed the fish in the Koi pond, all those wonderful things grandpas do. He and Faye accepted me like a daughter, even before David decided he wanted to make it official. They gave the biggest hugs, let me sit on their couch when I'd had a bad day at work (they lived closer to my school than I did at the time), always had snacks and drinks, and always loved me SO big.
This week when I realized Keith was gone, it was almost like losing David's momma all over again. Keith was like our link to how life was she was here. He loved like she would have. He would rub my girls heads at Christmas and talk about how crazy Faye would have been about having two more granddaughters after a whole lot of little boys down the bloodline. He was our family. Even if he didn't have to be. He chose us; even when he could have moved on.
Memories are what we have when time moves on. And death is a reminder that time really does move on more quickly than we have control over. I'm just forever grateful for the example of big, unbiased love that I was lucky enough to receive from a man who probably didn't realize how much we really loved him in return.
|P.S. Don't get married in August... It's hot as hell. Our smiles are fake, but the love is still real.|