On our second date, Saul introduced me to his parents. Compounded with the fact that he forgot my name on our first date, our early dating escapades are something I always give him shit about. He just tells me that he knew a good thing when he saw it!
We actually intended to go see a movie, but when we got to the theater there was nothing playing we really cared to see - actually, at that point in our lives it was more that we didn't care to PAY to see something...we were both broke as a joke. I was living with my parents at the time and I hadn't even mentioned to them I was seeing someone, so there was no way in hell I was offering up "my" place. He lived on the other side of town (for the first year we dated, we drove 40+ minutes each way to see each other...), so he mentioned his parents lived close and we could just rent a movie and go there. I assumed they were out of town or something. What sane dude would bring a girl to his parent's house on the second date? Um...yeah, that would be the man that is now my husband.
I followed him to the house and when we pulled up I was shocked to see bright lights in the windows - definite signs that someone was home. Also, I was wearing jeans and a hoodie, which isn't unusual for me (it was February and cold as shit), but it definitely was NOT what I would wear when meeting the parents for the first time. I had makeup on and my hair was done, thank god, but I was still feeling like they would think I was maybe someone he found on the street, begging for food, rather than a girl he CHOSE to call and ask on another date. I was nervous and certain that when I left, that'd likely be the last time I ever saw them or the boy I was slowly starting to like very, very much.
I couldn't have been more wrong. We walked into the house through the back door and, while they looked a little surprised to see me, welcomed me with comfortable ease and a "so this is her..." to Saul. His dad warmed up to me immediately, making jokes and laughing, while his mom was a little more traditional in the whole "ask a lot of questions so we know what you're about," role, but she was really easy to talk to, as well. By the time she stood up, an hour or so later, and announced she was going to bed, I was genuinely looking forward to my next conversation with her.
Saul and I had rented a movie (Zorro 2, for inquiring minds), and put it in when his mom went down the hall, expecting his dad to follow suit. He didn't right away, so we just settled back, Saul and I sneaking glances at each other, wondering when we'd be alone to
AN HOUR LATER Larry was still in his chair, hanging out, enjoying the movie. At that point, I decided this was definitely the weirdest date I'd ever been on.
I don't remember what caused him to get up, but just before the movie was over, he got out of his chair and bid us goodnight. It's something Saul and I have teased him about for years - thanks for intruding on our date, we'd say. Well, thanks for invading my house, he'd say. It was absolutely an odd date, but one I remember with a smile, always.
Larry passed away on March 13...just a little over a week ago, and I can't believe he is gone. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on November 2 - not even 5 months ago. None of us were ready for this, and my heart is just broken for the loss Sue, his wife, and his kids will always feel. I only knew him for 6 years, and I will always feel a little cheated that I didn't get more time.
He was a Lutheran pastor, which I think I have mentioned here before, and very, very loved throughout the country. He'd worked for a bunch of different churches and knew people all over the world. The man lived quite a life (he was part of a traveling circus band at one point, for crying out loud!), and the impression he made on those he touched was evident at his memorial service, which drew a crowd of about 300 people.
Walking into the house where I first met him and was greeted by him many times since, knowing I'm not going to hear my usual, "hey babes!" and get a hug from him, stings. I tear up every time I realize that my husband will no longer be able to talk to his dad, or build things with him, or take road trips with him. To me, it is just so, so unfair.
I don't know when it will feel real. I don't know when it will feel normal to go to the house Saul grew up in and not look for Larry when I walk through the door. I do know I will miss him, and will remember him as he most often was - sitting on his deck in the sun, having great conversations with his family and friends, holding a cigar and smiling.
I love you, dear Father-in-Law,