My father-in-law was, if anything, an interesting man. He was obviously creative, had a quick wit, and sported a ready smile.
He loved life. He loved watching it, and he spent a lifetime documenting it in his own wonderful, meticulous fashion.
Seeing his work, you might also think of him as a dreamer – the sort who preferred to step back through his paintings into a time he saw as simpler and more carefree. There, his subjects were happy… and immortal.
But when it came to his own mortality, Jan was quite the realist. He spoke of his death as though it were as common a topic as the weather. And he approached the discussion of his mortality with his signature sense of humor.
While this approach to referencing his own demise could be a bit disconcerting, I often recall this story…
In my father-in-law’s entryway at his home in Switzerland stood his tombstone. Jokingly, a visitor asked, “Are you in a hurry?”
“No”, Jan replied. “I’ve been married many times and this stone and I will be together for many years. I want to make sure we’re compatible.”
Remembering this always make me laugh, although Peter and I sometimes wonder if he and his tombstone are still getting along. I do hope so.