With the recent passing of my lovely father in law – David (Dad) – I’ve been reflecting on what I have always found so deeply inspiring about my lovely in laws.
I still remember the first time I met David and Rosemary. Matthew and I had been seeing each other for a couple of months when he told his Mum that he’d met someone…and that she was divorced! Mum (Rosemary’s) first response was to ask if I had any children. Goodness she would have been an incredible grandmother to them if I had!
We went around to Shepherd’s Lane for tea and Matt had asked Rebecca and some of the children to come along too for moral support! To be honest I think Matt was more nervous than I was. David and Rosemary were nothing but welcoming, kind, gentle and so very sweet. From the moment I met them, I fell in love with them both – and the entire Ash family.
I grew up in a rather non-traditional family. My parents had problems in their marriage when I was very young and I actually don’t remember a time when they were happy and not arguing with each other. They divorced when I was in my early teens. My youngest brother doesn’t remember them being together at all. As a child I would marvel at friends who had parents who were both engaged in their child’s life. I still had an amazing childhood in many ways but I often wondered what a complete family unit with both parents around was like.
There is no doubt that David and Rosemary were incredible parents – you only have to look at their children and grandchildren to see the result! They welcomed everyone into their home with open arms. I loved spending time at their house playing games, drinking endless cups of tea and nibbling on one of Mum’s legendary bakes. I also loved it when Nanna would come and visit (in the early years of my time with the family). She just filled the room with even more joy and laughter.
And of course they were so supportive of anything their children did. Years ago I was singing in a choir concert in Guildford Cathedral. It was a ghastly piece of music and yet Mum and Dad had gone out of their way to buy the score and listen to the music before the concert so that they were well versed to understand the performance. They took it so seriously! On the other hand, my own mother was sitting a few rows behind David and Rosemary, laughing at how bad the performance was…which was very typical of her!
Then there was the time I had to have a wisdom tooth removed. I don’t like needles so Dad gently held my hand while the anesthetic was injected into my gum and looked after me afterwards. Even the elements wouldn’t stop them from supporting us. Years ago I jogged in a 5k run around Stoke Park in the pouring rain. They came out on a cold. wet day to cheer me on. It goes without saying that for everyone in our family – they were always our greatest cheerleader at any event whether a school play or looking after us at hospital visits etc.
Life with David and Rosemary felt like it harked back to a simpler age. An age with a greater appreciation for taking things slowly, marveling at everything around us and enjoying the simple pleasure of time well spent in good company. We could all learn a lesson or two from their example.
More than anything I was struck by how utterly devoted David and Rosemary were to each other. Their lives revolved around their family, friends and service to their church community. They very much worked as a unit. The love that they shared was incredibly strong and everlasting. When Mum got sick, Dad so unselfishly looked after her for 2 difficult years even though it must have been awful for him to watch Mum struggle. I know he missed Mum desperately after her passing and these last few years have been such a struggle for him as he had to learn to navigate the world on his own for the first time.
Before Matt and I married I asked Mum what qualities are important in marriage. She said patience, selflessness, kindness and unconditional love. I’d say she passed those qualities on to Matt as he’s expresses all those qualities and more….he has to being married to me!!
I feel incredibly lucky to have witnessed such a great love between David and Rosemary and I continue to learn from their example. How lucky we all were to have them in our lives. I am just relieved that they are at least reunited again. Although it’s sad that they are no longer here with us, I have no doubt that they’re enjoying a new adventure together again at last.