The death of a salesman

When I think of my father-in-law and his death, a death of a salesman always comes to mind. He was actually a meat cutter by profession. One that retired with all ten of his fingers that he would proudly and loudly proclaim to anyone when asked what he did for a living. I should also note that this fact was accompanied with him waiving all ten of fingers in front of your face jazz hands style. You know, in case you didn’t believe him.

The husband, my father-in-law, and myself in Jamaica.

My father-in-law wasn’t afraid to tell you exactly what he thought about you or the current situation. He didn’t reserve his loud opinions for family, if he didn’t like what you were doing he would loudly share it with you whether he knew you or not.

We won’t go into how those who drive golf carts at Put-in-Bay probably rejoiced when they heard of his passing.Or the time that one of the said golf cart drivers came up to us on the ferry boat to Put-in-Bay to give us a piece of their mind and we said that he was just some random guy we got a ride from.

One of the first times I met my father-in–law, my husband and I were dating; I was fifteen years old and we were all at Cedar Point for the day. We were eating lunch in his conversion van when a gust of wind came in through the open door and caused an open bag of cheese puffs to fly off of the table and scatter around the inside of the van.

While the bag was in mid-air, my father-in-law angrily screamed at my husband’s younger brother, “What kind of f***ing asshole are you?” As if my future brother-in-law had anything to do with the wind shifting and causing the cheese puffs to scatter throughout the van. Without missing a beat my brother-in-law turned to my husband, smiled and then looked at my father-in-law and asked, “I don’t know dad, how many kinds of assholes are there?”

This response, which I later learned was an inside joke between my husband and brother-in-law, sent my father-in-law into a tirade about my brother-in-law’s lack of respect for other people and their property. My husband and his brother were laughing hysterically at their father’s outburst while I just sat there with my mouth agape trying to process what in the heck just happened. As quickly as the tirade started, it was done and it was as if it never happened.

Why are you telling me this, Heather? Bear with me as I swear I am coming to a point and not just speaking ill of the dead.

I live my life overly cautious. I have often joked that my outlook on life is much like a “choose your own adventure book,” I am not a pessimist, but I don’t always do something because I see how it could go horribly wrong on page 74.

I know that I am the wet blanket of any group I am in. I have accepted that, so when I do things like jump off of a 40 foot cliff in Jamaica people wonder if my life was in danger.

Yes I totally jumped off of a 40 foot cliff in Jamaica, I swear I will tell you about it soon.

My father-in-law lived his life with reckless abandon and to the extreme. Towards the end, we all wished that he wouldn’t live as fully as he wanted, because living with reckless abandon has consequences that he didn’t concern himself with.

While he had the angry explosions at those around him, as soon as he got it off of his chest he was fine. He didn’t linger on the past, he always lived in the moment.

I admired that. Not the crazy emotional explosive outbursts where you were left with your mouth agape wondering what in the hell just happened. But the whole living in the moment. Not letting your past dictate what was happening in your present. Living each moment, not knowing if you will ever have one like that again.

The best salesmen aren’t the ones who tell you over and over about why you need something, you just get that vibe from them. They aren’t selling a product, but an experience.

I saw something in Jeff that I don’t have myself. That thirst to live life in the moment. I can do without the whole reckless abandon part, but the living life off of the sidelines. I want it, I need it. Thank you so for showing me how much fuller life can be when you just take that leap off of the cliff.

As I am hurtling toward my 40th birthday this Friday I am thankful for you peddling this thing called life and always encouraging me to get off of the sidelines. You were always encouraging me and supporting me. You would be quick to tell me what a good mother and wife I was, even when I didn’t see it in myself.

I miss our weekly chats and visits. I miss arguing with you about ‘the email’ or you calling me to tell me to ask my computer something like it was a crystal ball. I miss you telling me what great kids I have and how you are so proud of them. And how you joked that you always thought I could do better than your son. I am glad that you got to meet Vivien before you passed away. I see that same stubborn streak you had and we are hoping that she grows out of the crazy outbursts when she doesn’t get her way.

Until we meet again.

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