For our anniversary in January, I gave Johnny a few things:
1. MAD's Greatest Artists box set.
2. Lions and Tigers and Crocs, Oh My!: a Pearls Before Swine Treasury.
My husband loves a good laugh. He also loved his Dad very much. In fact, Johnny has his Dad's eyes and from time to time, I catch him laughing like his Dad, too (it is really cute). At his Dad's funeral, Johnny was given a folded American flag in honor of Mr. Simmons' brave service in the Air Force. For too long, it remained in a plastic zip-up bag on our bookshelf. So in January, I decided it was high time to give Johnny a frame for the flag - a much more fitting tribute to my father-in-law:
There were "flashier" frames, but this one suits Mr. Simmons in its simplicity and understated elegance. The plaque reads:
John L. Simmons
1st Lt., United States Air Force
He came to believe
I chose the words on the last line to match the phrase Johnny selected for his Dad's gravestone. Mr. Simmons was raised in a Mormon family, but early in his life he rejected Mormonism. For a long time, he didn't know what he believed, and he read many books on religion and philosophy. Within months before his death, he came to believe the Gospel, and we thank God often with joy.
We've made that top shelf a tribute to Johnny's Dad ~ the frame, a few of Mr. Simmons' books, a simple Cross, his military dog tags, and his reading glasses (Johnny selected glasses similar to his Dad's as well). When we have children, we'll hoist them up on our shoulders, point to each item, and tell them about their grandfather. I wish I could have known him longer - I loved him, too - but we will see him again. That's the truth.
My father-in-law is also the reason we have a beautiful house (and I drive his car). We wanted him to live with us so badly, but his death was sudden. Whenever we walk through the living room, select a book from a lower shelf, or play a CD, we look at the triangular frame and his belongings, and it's almost as if Johnny's Dad is here with us - especially if we play music with a country twang. He would like this place indeed.