My heart is heavy. A man who has been like a father to me for the last 16 years is gone. My father-in-law Marion Nafziger passed away on Tuesday morning at approximately 4:12 am after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. I am sitting here at my laptop trying to decide what to say. I mean what do you say when someone who was an almost daily part of your life for 16 years is suddenly gone. Someone who was just always there. How many of us can say that we have people in our lives like that? People outside of the family we have within the four walls of our homes. Shelby and Jacob were going through pictures yesterday looking for ones with Grandpa in them for a slide show the funeral home is putting together. It struck me that he was in a lot of pictures but sometimes it was only his foot, or a leg, or his hand. The kids said well Grandpa was always there wasn't he. Yes he was.
I keep running through all the memories. So many. Too many to even begin to count. I was blessed with the opportunity to give him his first grandchild. I will never forget the look of pride on his face that day. His little firecracker with red hair stole his heart that day. His "Shelbinator". Then when Jake came along and he was a spitting image of his father and his grandfather. Marion would take Jacob to the mirror and say "Look Jake, we twins"! So precious.
He would rescue me from so many different scenarios during the day when Matt was at work. If something broke he was there to fix it. If there was a dead mouse in a mouse trap he was there to empty it. If a grandchild needed a ride to preschool he was on his way. He would always finish fixing something and say "There you go Special K" (his nickname for me). Just don't interrupt afternoon coffee time and you were good ;)
It was ten years ago that Marion was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. A disease his father had before him. It is a disease that takes little pieces of you over time. It happens so slowly that you don't realize that the person you love is slipping away from you. I think my husband explained it best when he wrote this just days before his father passed
"When someone you love has a debilitating disease like Parkinson's, they slip away from you slowly. Over time, they become a mere shell of what they once were physically and mentally. I remember this with my Grandfather and have realized it all over again, 15 years later, with my Dad. Slowly, they don’t seem like the person that you have so many memories with. Not the one you remember from the good times, the vacations, the birthday parties, all the fun activities. Then, reality pulls you back and you realize it is the same person, and that makes the end even harder to deal with. Not only do you deal with the loss, but you realize just how much the disease took away, just how much damage was done over time. Still love you Dad!"
When I told my father-in-law goodbye for the last time I told him that his grandkids love him so much, that I loved him so much. I told him he had been the best father-in-law ever. I told him that it was okay to go to heaven. It was okay to let go. Tell Bea and Carol we said "Hi". It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Please pray for our family during this difficult time.