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Friday, March 18, 2016

Remembering My Father-in-Law

I always think of my father-in-law this week of St. Patrick's Day because it is his birthday, and since he has been gone it is a bittersweet time.  He died of complications from metastatic renal cancer, and he was definitely not ready to give up on life.  He was traveling to the end, aware that he risked dying in a far off land, but preferred that to playing it safe at home.  The idea of that made me nervous at first, but once my spouse talked to him and was reassured that was how he wanted to live the end of his life, I relaxed.
This is the first birthday of his that has passed since I have cancer myself.  I have finished the acute phase of treatment and moved into a maintenance phase (which in my case means less frequent chemotherapy at a lower dose and with less side effects, but continued baldness).  I do not know what the future holds, but I have certainly thought about my father-in-laws approach and what I might do if I find myself in his shoes.  We both share a love of travel, and I am very grateful that I did not put that off.  That being said, there are lots of places that I have yet to see, and the idea of being as active and adventurous as you can be up to the very end resonates with me.  My father-in-law had some mobility limitations, so he traveled by boat to decrease the wear and tear of going from city to city.  He enjoyed the time he had and he encouraged his family to do the same.  He even bankrolled a travel adventure or two, and I am very grateful to him for many things. My husband, first and foremost, of course, and his other three children, but many of the things that he valued I have come to value too.  I am not a quick learner, but he eventually taught me things and I miss him very much.