Sadly, I have experienced my fair share of loss over the past four years.
My heart broke when I lost my maternal grandmother Ruth in April of 2018:
That was soon followed by the death of one of my fur babies, Ike. And then, a few months ago, by my other darling kitty, Abe:
Then on March 17, 2022, I lost my beloved father-in-law, Alan Richman.
I always joke with my clients that we can’t choose our in-laws and that it is a crapshoot at best. But with Alan and his partner Bonnie, I won the ‘in-law lottery’. I considered Alan, my dear father-in-law of 24 years, a second father.
From the very beginning in 1998 when I first met him, he took me in like one of his own children and treated me like the daughter he never had from then on. That was such a blessing.
I always felt a special kinship with him. I think it was based on the recognition on both of our parts that we were unique beings who did things in our own special way- in other words- we were both QUIRKY and eccentric. We shared a creative thinking process and curiosity about the world and that was so delightful to share with each other. We “got” each other and readily accepted each other ‘warts and all’.
My husband and I affectionately called him “funny little man” or “FLM” for short because he was little (his partner Bonnie towered above him in height) and he was “funny” in how he used humour but also in his cute little quirks. One thing about him that always made me laugh was that he carried the equivalent of a woman’s purse with him wherever he went- we ended up calling it a “murse” to make it more masculine. I had never met another person before him who had so many little routines/rituals they had to do multiple times a day. Here’s some of what he carried in the ‘murse’:
- a collection of eyedrops he administered about 100 times a day for dry eyes
- an assortment of ratty facecloths he used multiple times a day soaked in hot water to ‘soak his eyes’
- tissues for constant nose-blowing
- spray cleaning kit for his glasses plus clip-on sunglasses
- hair comb which he ran across his full head of hair (he was very proud of it) like the Fonz
- peppermint gum, dental floss and picks for after meals
- a copious amount of supplements he took throughout the day
Alan didn’t have an easy life and there were many times when he suffered greatly. But I only knew that from talking with my husband and quizzing him endlessly about his father’s past. He wasn’t someone who made a habit out of feeling sorry for himself or dwelling on the bad things that had happened to him. In other words, he wasn’t a complainer.
He was a doer- engaged fully in life. He was truly interested in people and their stories and loved connecting people whom he thought would get along or be able to share something they both were passionate about. He took the time to ask people lots of questions about themselves and listened attentively to their answers. Maybe that’s why we got each other too…I have been told I ask a lot of questions- but unlike Alan, I get paid for it!
He knew a lot of Yiddish which is a language my grandparents tried to teach me- I only ended up remembering the swear words, but they have come in handy throughout my life. I was fascinated by the story of his family settling in Humboldt, Saskatchewan where they raised a family and ran a dry-goods store. I believe there were only ten Jewish families there when he was growing up.
And like me, he loved food. While he forgot a lot of details in some areas, you could always count on him to remember exactly what he had eaten at every restaurant he’d ever been to over the past 50 years! We shared so many wonderful meals together and his favourite thing when he’d come stay with us were my husband’s smoked Texas-style barbecued pork ribs. In case you were wondering, he wasn’t Kosher and neither are we.
Hubby and I absolutely love beef ribs and have a favourite place in Vancouver where we can get them. I’ll never forget the time when Nathaniel and I were flying home from a vacation and had a brief stopover in Vancouver and Alan showed up at the airport with a big bag of beef ribs for us to eat on our journey home. Now that’s service!
Goodbye dear Alan. You will be greatly missed but never forgotten. You were a real mensch.