I found myself wandering around in the woods the day my father-in-law died. For 24 years I knew him, and it passed in a blink of an eye. What’s it all for? Life, death, it’s seamless. One day he is here with us, the next he’s gone.
Fred was “The Silver Fox,” quick on his feet, spry, charming, a gentleman with a huge heart, although that was his little secret.
Once early on when I was sick, delirious with fever, and I wanted to have a glass of water by my bedside. Fred kept removing my glass. When I awoke, the glass of water would be nowhere in sight. “I need water. I’m parched,” I told my husband. He would bring it to me, and then zap, Fred would whisk it away. I didn’t know the extent of his OCD then. Later, I laughed.
In my twenties, Fred told me, as he did everyone else, “You’re not all there.” The very first time I heard this, I wanted to cry.
Later I got it. He would say, “You’re not all there,” and point his finger to his head. I then laughed in agreement. You’re right, I’m not all there, Fred. Who is? The sooner you realize this in your life, the easier you’ll breathe.
For those who think “They’re all there,” they’re the most confused of us all. As time passes you by, you realize you know less, not more.
He always brightened someone’s day with small gifts. Me, my husband, his kids, his grandchildren, gas attendants, wait staff at restaurants he frequented, staff at his son’s work….he gave us baked goods, sweet treats, trinkets, statues of dogs and cats, jewelry boxes painted with religious figures, glass sculptures, books, paperweights with butterflies, latch hook rugs with seagulls, condom holders….things that were, uh, puzzling. Okay, things we would never buy for ourselves.
In one of our last conversations, he still wanted to give my sons a present.
He was a giver in abundance. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He just wanted you to smile, shrug off your worries if only for a few moments, and “lighten up” as he would say. It’s just who he was.
I think about my own life and who I touch, who is on the receiving end. How can I give the way he did? I find myself clutching onto fear and worry. Why? In the end, all we have in this life is each other.
I will miss you, Fred.
In loving memory
Thomas Fredrick Reese
December 27, 1934 – March 23, 2013