It is a different kind of Thanksgiving this year. Our gatherings may be different, but the love we share is not. Whether you can greet your loved ones at the holiday table or only by phone, let us take the opportunity to speak our affirmations of love to our family and friends. Time passes quickly, and the opportunity vanishes. Let us seize the moment and speak of what really matters.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – NIV
Through the lens of his camera, he captured the beauty of nature and the joys of this life.
On Monday, November 16, 2020, we lost my father in law Pete. His passing was swift and peaceful, and we are so thankful that he did not linger in suffering.
I was just 16 years old when I trailed my handsome football player boyfriend into the living room and found Pete sitting in his favorite chair. There was a twinkle in his eye and a warm smile on his face as he clasped my hand in greeting for the first time. For 43 years, that kind smile never wavered. It was always just waiting for me to walk through his door.
We always joked that he and my mother in law Liz helped raise me, and they did. In our five years of dating, how many meals did I share at their table? How many nights did I spend in their living room?
Pete was so proud when I became a nurse, and from the outset, he had the utmost respect for my knowledge and skills. As the years passed, his respect only deepened, and I became his “go to” source for all things medical. In the past few years, it has been my honor to manage his health care. He trusted me to do right by him. Liz has often remarked that I was the only one that could tell him what to do, and he would do it!
Pete had two great passions in his life, his photography and travel. He weaved together those two passions to produce beautiful works of art. The walls of their home are covered in a kaleidoscope of color, his photographs showcasing wildlife, landscapes, and people from all over the world. During their 63 years of marriage, Liz and Pete traveled to all seven continents capturing thousands of images through the lens of his camera. Those trips were some of the happiest days of his life. He was in his element, seeing the beauty of nature, doing the things he loved.
He loved travel so much that he wanted his family to embrace that same passion. When the grandchildren were young, he and Liz began a holiday tradition of taking the whole family to Pipestem State Park in West Virginia. They rented cottages for each family, and we spent the week after Christmas playing in the snow, hiking the wintry trails, and gathering around the fireplace. Staring into the flames, his wife and children seated all around him, his grandchildren giggling over their games, those were some of the best moments of Pete’s life.
The adventures did not end there. They continued on with the 50th wedding anniversary trip to Australia. I can still see the whole family gathered on the pristine shores of Kangaroo Island, the kids frolicking in the waves, and Pete, camera in hand, capturing the moment. There were more family trips to Belize and Bermuda, each with their own precious moments. Pete succeeded in his quest. Each of his offspring shares his insatiable appetite for travel.
It broke Pete’s heart to learn of my eye disease. I know he would have done anything to restore my failing vision, and he always hoped for a cure. It broke my heart to watch him suffer the miseries of declining health over the past few years. It is my ardent hope that he has now found the peace that eluded him for so long.
Pete may be gone from this life, but our adventures together will never end. They are forever etched upon the walls of my mind, their joy flowing deep into my soul. For I know full well that I was never just his daughter in law. I was the daughter he never had. Rest In Peace, dear Pete!
O Lord God, I give thanks for the life of Pete, for the privilege of being his daughter. Please surround his family with Your comfort and peace as we grieve. Be with all those who have lost loved ones. Help us to remember Your gracious blessings even as we endure the losses of this life.
In the Loving Name of Jesus, we pray,