2012 was one of the most formative years in my life – I experienced the sorrow of losing my father and the joy of connecting with the love of my life. When I married my husband the next year, I would be walked down the aisle by my mother, and there would be no father-daughter dance. Though the day was the happiest of my life, Dad’s absence was felt. I had no idea at that point that the man who pronounced us man and wife, my husband’s father, would one day be a dear friend and father to me.
The Hubby and I were long distance until about one month before we married. We met and knew each other’s families, but had not spent significant amounts of time with them. For the first five years of our marriage, we were lucky enough to live just five minutes away from my father-in-law, Verne. Through this proximity and the almost-weekly dinners we would have together, we had a chance to get to know each other pretty well.
One day, while at our house for dinner, Verne eyed my bookshelves and asked to borrow my copy of The Catcher in the Rye. He hadn’t read it before, and felt like he didn’t read enough fiction. This is one of my very favorite books of all time. Probably top ten. I was more than excited to share it with him, and then demand he share every thought and feeling he had about it with me. Maybe if he knew what he was signing up for, he never would have asked, but I considered the whole exchange an invitation to recommend him books until the end of time.
We are both big readers, me more of fiction and Verne more of nonfiction. I happily took up the challenge of finding fiction that he would love. Five years later, and we’ve read about fifteen books together. Books and stories have a way of going to the heart and helping people connect on a deeper level, and that has definitely been true for us. We’ve had so many great conversations about the books we’ve read, and I love when I’m reading a book and start to think, “Verne has to read this.”
We recently had the chance to talk books and reading with Anne Bogel on my favorite podcast, What Should I Read Next? I sneakily submitted an application to be on the show without telling Verne and shared our story and what it’s meant to me. I’m so happy they picked us to be on the show – and not just because it’s been a dream of mine to be on it. The reason is the reaction my father-in-law had when he got a chance to read my submission. I really thought he knew everything I wrote down, but it seems like it was news to him. If we hadn’t been chosen for the show, he would not have read that and may never have known just how much I value our relationship and love sharing books with him. Thank you, Anne, for the opportunity to share.
Anne says books are “a shortcut to talking about the things that really matter in life.” I’m glad my father-in-law and I have been able to take that shortcut and forge a meaningful friendship. At my brother-in-law’s wedding last summer, and I finally got the chance for a father-daughter dance.