I am getting personal on the blog today. There are no food pictures and no funny stories of my latest kitchen disaster. Today I would like to express my feelings for someone who has made an incredible impact on my life, my father in-law Paul. He is a strong man who has been fighting Multiple Myeloma for six and a half years. Aside from some down days he has maintained his positive attitude the entire journey. He has been through a battery of transplants, clinical trials and assorted chemotherapy concoctions while maintaining his determined spirit. This past week, with the support of his doctors and family, he decided it was time to stop fighting the cancer and choose to enjoy the time he has left.
How do you express your feelings to a person who is dying? How do you explain the magnitude of what they added to your life? I guess there is no correct answer for that so I chose to do it in the best way I know how – in writing.
The first memory I really have of you was at a time in my life when I felt lost and alone. I was 22 years old and was told by my then stepfather that my family was moving out of state in two weeks and they were taking the car I used for work and school. I had no idea how to buy a car, what to look for or how to even go about paying for one. Patrick took me to look at them and asked you to come along to guide my naive younger self and help me make a sound decision.
We found a used car at a great price and I was on my way to signing my first car loan when we ran into a snag – I was required to pay some sort of down payment. I was embarrassed not only due to my lack of knowledge but also because I could not scrape any money together. Only seconds after the sales person left to “give us a minute” you turned to me and said you would loan me the $500 required and I could pay it back in installments over time. I sat there, dumbfounded that such generosity existed. I am pretty sure I began crying because let’s face it, I am a crier.
Generosity of spirit was the first of many lessons I learned over the 12 years I have been blessed to know you. The first Christmas that passed with my family out of state, I was welcomed into your home and shown the same graciousness. You have never hesitated to show me unconditional love, you never hesitated to make me feel part of the family and you never hesitated to teach me life’s lessons and assume the father figure role I so desperately needed in my young life. I will never be able to thank you enough for the role you have played in my life. I am forever grateful to you. I love you.
I decided to get personal today not to search for sympathy, but rather to honor my father in-law in the best way I knew I could offer. I cannot express how grateful I am that we have been blessed to have him with us for as long as we have following his diagnosis. It does not make the process easier in an emotional sense, but it does allow us to celebrate his life in the way he wishes and allows us the opportunity to reflect on our memories together and express our appreciation for what he has added to our lives.
This Father’s Day we will have steak and sweet potatoes as dad requested, along with his favorite desserts, Key Lime Pie and Carrot Cake. Life is too short – two desserts should always be involved.
My Grandma’s Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
1½ cups vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups shredded carrots
1 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
8½ oz can diced pineapple, drained
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 pan.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs well and combine with sugar and oil. Set aside.
- Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg mixture, stirring to combine.
- Add carrots and pineapple and combine well. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.