I was on my first date with my husband when I met him. It was an odd first date really. Since I had also just met, in-person, my future husband. And he had met my parents and sisters earlier. So, it was only fitting I meet his dad that night.
Maybe I wouldn’t remember that night so well if I’d had more than a year with this man who would be my father-in-law. He never actually made it to the day that became official. But, it doesn’t change the way I think of him.
Cory and I had been chatting online and on the phone for the past couple of weeks. I had just moved back down to college, a little over an hour away, but I was coming home for Labor Day weekend. So, we decided we’d meet up that Saturday. Sunday I was going to a concert at the Crawford County fair with my best friend, and Monday I’d be headed back to school.
He came to my mom’s house and met my parents the same time he did me. At least my stepdad was not cleaning a shotgun when he showed up, but at the time his gun cabinet(a big glass-fronted cabinet) was right in the living room. He fell right in with my family, although I think my mom still worried when I left with him.
After dinner and a movie, we went out to the campground where Cory’s dad and stepmom were staying for the weekend. There was a big party a friend of theirs threw every labor day weekend. We walked into their camper, and I don’t really know how to explain it. I’ve never been overly comfortable around other people. But, I didn’t feel awkward there. They made me feel comfortable and accepted, and all it took was their son liking me. I’ve never been so easily accepted, sometimes even by my own family.
That’s all it took, and I already felt like part of the family. He included me, didn’t hold back in teasing me, didn’t hold back at all. Maybe he knew he didn’t have enough time to hold back. He started getting sick in June. Had just gotten out of the hospital with what they’d thought was pneumonia in time for their family reunion in Ohio. They rode his Harley out there, and I think that may have been the last time he rode it. He even offered to give me a ride on it. Still, to this day, I regret not taking the chance.
It wasn’t the last time he was in the hospital that summer. And still they didn’t know what was wrong. But, he was home one weekend in August. It was the Sunday after my bachelorette party, and we went to their house for dinner. Everyone was there including Cory’s brother, his sister, and her family. We even took my dog. And I still remember him sitting on the couch after dinner feeding potato chips to my dog. My dog, who was never overly fond of men.
And I still remember what I was doing two weeks later when Cory’s stepmom called. Usually I wouldn’t have answered his phone. But, he was in the shower getting ready for church. Instead, when he got out, we headed straight up to Erie. And only hours later, we were saying good-bye to his father. Exactly one year after I met him(minus about 10 hours), we lost him to cancer. Thirteen days later, I married his son.
It’s been over eight and a half years since we lost Rick. Exactly four years later, his son’s son was born. And he carries his grandfather’s name as his middle name. Today, Rick would have been 62 years old. And there isn’t one day he isn’t missed on this earth.