I think the strongest person I’ve ever known was my father-in-law, Charlie. My father in law was a retired Army Major, who was awarded a silver star while in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. He was very disciplined who seemed like a tough guy, but in fact was a very soft-hearted guy. My father in law had a very close relationship with my husband. They were like two peas in a pod. They both loved the country they served faithfully for over 20 years. He was a strong-willed person who would always try to do the right thing.
His religious faith I was never quite sure of. He never seemed like a very religious man, but he would not criticize the faith of another. No matter what problems or complications came his way, he always had a positive outlook, even though; his time was short he never let that get him down. In 1998, my father in law was diagnosed with Colon cancer and went to war with this disease. While battling his war with cancer, my mother in law, his soul caregiver, was herself diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2002.
This man did not let his illness take him over and rose above, as he took care of my mother in law while dealing with his illness till she died two weeks after being diagnosed. He insisted on taking care of her himself and did so with the help of hospice. I admired him for the love and devotion he displayed while taking care of his wife while battling this disease himself. In February 2003 my father in laws cancer had left him unable to care for himself or live alone, so he moved in with us. I remember we would sit on the porch while he had lunch, and he would tell me such incredible stories of things that happened during his life.
I felt my relationship was stronger with him, and he thought of me as the daughter he never had. He had fought for five years holding back this cancer with multiple surgeries, Chemo, and radiation. Doctors helped him fight this cancer as long and as hard as they could. Unfortunately, on May 3, 2003, my father in law loss his battle and passed away from complications of cancer. My father in law will always be in my heart and be the strongest person I will ever know. To fight so hard and for so long against a battle you know you have no chance of winning, is extraordinary.
There are times I could see how much my husband and children missed their father and grandfather and wished he could be here to share their accomplishments or see his great-grandchildren. I also know they are happy he is in peace and not in the pain and suffering he had with this horrible disease. Myself, I miss him, and I can sit and remember the time we spent together talking and laughing and listening to his great stories. I think of him quite often and his stories and just smile. I know he is not here anymore, but he will forever be in my heart.