Today is “Totensonntag”, the Sunday before Advent on which the dead are commemorated. It was the King Friedrich Wilhelm III who implemented this day in the predominantly Lutheran Prussia in 1816.
This day has never had a special meaning to me, but today, somehow I had to think of two people, who have been very important in my life. The first one is my Grandmother, who died 29 years ago. I will tell you about her another time.
The other person I have been thinking of today is my father in law, John. He died two years ago and he was the kindest person I have ever known. He was a botanist, until, around the age of 40 he decided to study theology and to become a pastor.
What made him so special?
He was modest, accepting and grateful. I have never heard him complain about anything. Not even about his health, which especially when he got older declined. He was grateful for the treatments he got and full of praise for the nurses and doctors.
He had a way of simply trusting and believing in you, only seing the good. Being around him I always felt accepted and appreciated and it became easy to be thoughtfull and considerate. He made me wanting to be good, not to please him, but as not to disappoint his trust in me.
He was interested both in what happened in the world and in what you thought about it. Even in his 90ies he was well informed about current affairs and eager to hear your opinion on it. He was never eager to give his own opinion, but when asked he had a very clear view.
He hardly ever talked about himself, but he wanted to know how you felt and he was caring and encouraging at all times.
If necessary he could be very insistent and he did not let other people outsmart him. He had a strong sense of what was right and wrong, but he could easily overlook a weakness in others.
He was a gentleman and he lived by the values he preached. He always behaved with integrity.
He brought out the best in anybody and I have many happy memories of him. He married my husband and me, and he christened my oldest son. After my divorce I didn’t see much of him anymore and there were a few years where we had little contact. Some years before he died we got back in touch and I was able to thank him for all his understanding and the support he has given me. I feel honored to have known him.