There is a difference between changes you expect and those that catch you out of breath. You expect things to go the way you want, not the opposite. Those surprises do not have to be terrible but often the mind has trouble accepting regardless.
Certain life events are necessary but also beyond comprehension. To be specific, a death in the family. Between 2013 and 2015 we experienced more setbacks. My father-in-law Merv Little passed away in March 2015. He had been sick for about a year but was coping well. The last trip to the hospital did not seem like that. And then things turned for the worse and then it was a short time after that when he died.
Here is what I wrote about him for his funeral:
Mervyn George Little (Dad)
There is so much to say about Dad. Even though he was a quiet and gentle soul, he had a side that was also mischievous and funny. I first met Dad in 1997 when I arrived in Australia. He was a different man back then since this was before he had a stroke. But, even though I was worried about him accepting me, he was very welcoming and made me feel like part of the family.
Dad had a knack for playing tricks on people. Nothing hurtful to anyone but he always enjoyed surprising people. Many stories have been retold about how he used to pull pranks. Some of the more obvious stories involve turning on the cold water when people were having showers and pouring salt into people’s hot drinks. He also loved to shake hands and squeeze hard. It was an extra bonus if he was able to grab the other’s hand in just the right way to be able to squeeze harder. He enjoyed rough housing with his sons.
He loved seeing family come over. He loved cooking BBQs and putting everything there was on the grill. He loved being in charge of the BBQ and making sure that everyone would get something that was just a bit overcooked. He loved getting good presents for his birthday and Christmas. He also loved to hand out presents. Often he played the role of Santa for the sake of Girl Guides or for the family. He loved the idea of winning the lotto. He played religiously every week with dreams of winning the big one. He loved taking care of dogs, and especially poodles. Having a dog follow him around was one of his moments of happiness. He loved watching the news. He knew all the times when the news was on and would find ways to maximize how much news he could see. He loved taking big drives. Always observant, he would notice things which had changed and report this to other family members.
He could be accident prone. Apparently he was more likely to have injuries when he was younger but would still have minor injuries from bumps and falls as he got older. The oldest accidents sometimes involved bicycles and when he was in the military. He was more likely to bruise later in life due to a blood condition called factor five. Shaking hands with him sometimes resulted in him bruising on the back of his hand (when we were squeezing harder than usual).
He had a number of conditions of the years that greatly affected his health. Between his factor five, heart attack, stroke, and finally lung cancer, he had so much riding against him. Each time he fought back and rallied to live again. Even with the cancer, he lived beyond what was expected. He spent around four times a year in the hospital in the last several years. It seemed like clockwork sometimes. Except for the last time, he would often come home stronger, and almost as if nothing had ever happened.
We took several trips with him and Mum. The biggest trips were to America. He loved going there and decided that he was really from Chicago. He enjoyed exploring new areas and finding and climbing the steepest hills. In his native New Zealand, we once walked the hills of Wellington. He had the rest of the family beat even though he was in his 70s. We could not believe how much energy he had and that just made him love it even more. In America, he and his wife were there when we married in 1999 in Las Vegas. It was great to see him there and he really enjoyed being part of the service.
Dad did not like speaking much to anyone outside the family after his stroke. He was not comfortable saying things that might come out wrong. At home, this did not bother him and he would take the time to say what he wanted. This always proved that he was a very thoughtful man.
It is very hard to say goodbye to a man that I call Dad. Even though technically he is my father-in-law, he always made me feel closer than that. He never treated me like an outsider and was always kind. It is a family tradition to say that if you are teased, you are loved. Dad teased me heaps and I enjoyed teasing him back. He was a bit of a mischievous soul but he never meant this in a bad way. What I will miss is his smile and handshake and his ability to put things at ease. He had a knack for making you feel welcome. I will also miss messing up his hair. He used to hate people touching his hair and he would quickly pull out a comb to fix it up. It was part of a larger game to see who could tease who the most.
Goodbye Dad. I love you. I wish you did not have to go. At least I will see you again eventually. I am looking forward to seeing you again.