My father-in-law has been sick for as long as I've known him. It wasn't much of a shock when he was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple of years ago, but he fought it rather well, still managing to meet up with his friends and going on his yearly vacation to Pas-de-Calais, where he and my mother-in-law grew up. But he started slowing down around the time we went on vacation together in August. He was so poorly that it was a special effort for him to come visit me and Fry, his ninth grandchild, in the maternity. He only stayed for about ten minutes, but it touched me greatly.
At the end, it was fast. Mercifully fast. Last Thursday he was still moving around the house on his own and I saw him sitting in his favorite chair in front of the tv. When I was having my colonoscopy Monday, Stéph and Fry visited Pépère for what turned out to be the last time. He wasn't able to get out of bed, but Stéph told me that he would still reach out to touch the baby. He was scheduled to go back into the hospital for two days starting Wednesday morning, but if you ask me, he'd just had enough. We got the call at 1:30 Wednesday morning that he was gone.
I will never forget how he welcomed this foreigner into his family with good humor and kindness. But mostly good humor. He called me "Camembert" for the first year, because it was the only cheese I would eat (seriously, that cheese was a revelation to me!). He teased me when I showed him my very first récipissé by taking out his cigarette lighter and threatening to light it up, with a twinkle in his eye. His sarcastic comebacks were legendary and to watch Stéph's parents go at it was both heart warming and hilarious.
Merci, beau-père, pour tous.