Meet my father-in-law. This is his trademark (shaka) pose.
My father-in-law is an example of a blessing that can unexpectedly come out of a bad situation. The photo of him above wearing the bright yellow shirt is one of my favorites of him because he has what I like to call the 100% pure happy smile. If you look at these photos (and I have dozens more like these), you’d think this has been him his whole life. The truth is that my husband rarely saw his father smile or laugh most of his life until a few years ago.
When he dropped us off at the airport as we headed to the New York City to start our new life, I saw my husband with tears in his eyes as he said goodbye and I love you to his dad. Later I would learn that my husband was bothered by the fact that his father didn’t show any emotion or say I love you back. It’s not that his dad didn’t love him, that’s just who his dad was, and many dads we know of his generation were like that. Months later we’d see his dad again back in our hometown, except this time it was at the hospital when he had multiple bypass surgery, and then a stroke, and then lost his vision, all at the same time.
Although it was a very difficult period for everyone, especially for my mother-in-law who took on the role of full-time caretaker, something wonderful happened as a result: my husband’s father had a rebirth of sorts and the family is much closer now. He laughs regularly. He and my husband now say I love you to each other all the time. My husband finally got to say all the words he’d been wanting to say to his dad his entire life but never could. He’s playful. He’s emotional – each time we leave to come back to Seattle, he cries at the gate. He makes you feel loved. He makes us smile, especially when he dances like this.
My father-in-law literally got another chance at life, in more ways than one. And my husband got a chance at a new relationship with his dad, the kind he’d probably been craving his whole life. And the beauty is that my husband is at the period in his life when he can fully appreciate it, and I can only assume his father is equally grateful for his second shot at fatherhood. Transformations and new beginnings are what life is about.