Posts Tagged With: in-laws

An In-Law with a Dance in His Step

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for an extra father-in-law. Yes, you read that correctly.

MSH’s mom remarried about thirty years ago. Thing is she married a rancher. Everyone thought she was crazy heading off from a life in California to help raise the last half of a Wyoming cattleman’s children and run a household.

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

My kids always called him Grandpa. They didn’t care about family politics or the ins and outs and etiquette of widowers or divorced people. My kids only knew they felt loved from both of those people on the ranch, as well as the aunts and uncles and cousins they rubbed shoulders with. My son especially loved spending time up there. I suspect Grandma’s “good groceries” had something to do with it. I think getting the chance to ride motorcycles, drive trucks and tractors at a really early age, and generally spending the day outdoors and getting dirty kind of endeared him to Grandpa.

Grandpa showed equal attention to all the children and grandchildren and made no distinction whatsoever between his or hers especially when it came to grandkids. He capacity to love seems infinite.

I still remember him holding each of my girls on his knee and telling them stories and nursery rhymes. His favorite one he recently recited to a great-granddaughter. You have to read it closely or you’ll miss the subtle nuances.

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard

to get her poor daughter a dress.

When she got there, the cupboard was bare,

and so was her daughter, I guess.

He has the most innocent and yet mischievous twinkle in his eye when he ends that rhyme.

What a marvelous sense of humor! I suppose you have to have a capacity for laughter if you live the life of a rancher. The whimsical humor of weather, insects, and markets could leave a person in a sour state of mind more often than not. He’s got the sweetest disposition you could imagine.

He loves to dance and can hardly sit still if a good dance tune starts playing. I’m pretty sure that’s how he charmed my mother-in-law into marrying him.

By Cgoodwin (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cgoodwin (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

His family, one of the first homesteaders in the valley they live in, raised eggs when he was a boy, dairy cows when he got older. He moved on to beef cattle after the dairy cows nearly wore him out. He’s seen his share of setbacks, heavy sorrows, challenges, health problems and heartaches. And yet, at eighty-one he gets restless in the winter without enough work outdoors to keep him busy.

Once spring starts thinking about appearing and the calving starts, he’s an energized, sunup to way past sundown ball of energy. I think he can outwork an eighteen year old.

I’ve never met a friendlier person either. When they visit us here, I swear he sees more people he knows than I do. He says he’s never met a stranger because he always introduces himself and gets to know a person right off. He has a kind heart to go with that friendlier demeanor, too.

Oh, my! Saints have nothing on him for the patience he has. But if you do something mean-hearted or downright wrong you’d better be prepared for an argument you won’t win. Rancher’s aren’t people to mess with.

In all his spare winter time he used to coach wrestling at the local high school as a volunteer. He changed lots of lives for the better that way. You could ask almost anyone who’s known him what a good man he is and what a difference he’s made in their community. They’ll back me up.

Grandpa might be short in stature, but he’s got the character of a giant. He’s one of the most valiant men I’ve ever known. What an honor and a blessing to know him and to count myself as family with him.

Thank you, Gary! You’re a bright spot of sunshine in the world!



“If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.” ~ Will Rogers 


Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Found: The Music to Your Dance

“Humorous but very intelligent words to live by: Do not argue with a spouse who is packing your parachute.”

Friday Letter to My Kids – Sept. 5, 2014 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

I gotta tell you how happy it makes me that you’ve each found and married the perfect person for you.

You’ve found the music to your dance, the glove to your hand, the screen to your keyboard, the horizon to your sunrise and the ocean to your beach.

That’s so happifying!

A couple of you took a long and circuitous route in locating that person, but the journey seemed a necessary part of the finding for you. A couple of you found love early and without hesitation. Either way, I’m thrilled to see you each content and loved and cared for so well.

Original art by Kami

Original art by Kami

I lucked out too because I totally adore each of your spouses. They’re cool people, confident, calm, easy-going, and fun to hang out with. It’s like I got a set of bonus kids just for showing up.

I love seeing how your spouse loves, cares for, admires, helps and cherishes you. Even better I’ve observed a synergy where they make you a better person, a richer, more well-rounded, more vibrant human and you have the same effect on them. Your eyes light up around your sweetheart. Your whole countenance brightens. You seem more you.

I’m not delusional. I know marriage isn’t all roses, chocolate and champagne. Each of you and your spouses each seem well suited and well matched for the challenging and occasionally uphill path of the commitments you’ve made. That fact alone does my heart good and lets me rest easier. Knowing you’re loved and in love and in it for the long haul makes me smile.

Already it seems you’re light-years ahead of where your dad and I were even twenty years into our marriage. It’s like you figured out the right way to pull off a marriage by watching us stumble around like dingbats. From what I can tell, you’re doing an awesome job at this whole married thing.

I can’t seem to get this scene out of my head from the movie “Princess Bride.” Maybe it’s simply to remind me to laugh more often at and in my own marriage.

Here’s the quote:


Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…

And wuv, twue wuv, will fowow you foweva…

So tweasure your wuv.” ~Princess Bride

I hope you laugh often with each other. That’s definitely served as my saving grace over the past few decades of married life.

Here’s the one really great thing I figured out: it only gets better over time. You think you can’t love them any more than you do now, but you will. And in a ways that’ll surprise you.

I’m excited for what awaits each of you as couples. You’ve picked the scenic route and that will make all the difference in your travels together. Enjoy the ride!

Love found you all and in that finding life begins again and again and again.


Lots of love,


"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

(Happymess with an “M” – not a typo.)


“A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.” ~ Anne Lamott



Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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