God looked down and thought, “I need someone who is willing . . . willing to provide the fatherly love, support, and strength this woman so desperately needs.”

So God made my father-in-law.

He knew my heart was shattered after losing my father to tongue cancer so he gave me someone who would show me how to let go of my anger by showering me with unconditional love. Someone who accepted me for me.  Someone who would help me reunite with my love affair with food. Someone who would sit at the table with me and become my new recipe taste tester. Someone who would brag to all of his friends about my cooking, regardless of how bad it was. Someone who was proud of me and the love his son and I have. Someone who was beaming with pride the day I became his son’s wife.

So, God made my father-in-law.

God said, “I need someone to help heal this fatherless woman’s broken heart, someone who is tough enough to wield a machete and gentle enough to understand his new daughter-in-law is mourning the loss of her beloved father. Someone who will treat her like his own daughter and never like an in-law.”

So, God made my father-in-law.

I need someone to notice practical things, like how she needs to get a bigger vehicle after being in a horrific car accident while gently reassuring her that everything will be OK. I need someone who is strong enough to guide her when she is terrified to drive again, yet gentle enough to understand the trauma of her accident is what is holding her back.

So, God made my father-in-law.

God said, “I need someone who listens more than he speaks. Someone who has a smile that lights up the room. Someone who will love his family during the good and the bad times, someone who loves his family unconditionally.”

So, God made my father-in-law.

He knew after losing my father I needed to let go of my anger, heal my heart, and grow tolerance and compassion. He knew I needed to learn how to how make peace, accept others for who they are, and to compromise.

So, God made my father-in-law.

He knew I needed someone who would show me where my husband received his greatness from, someone who would be a mirror image of my husband as we would grow old together.

So, God made my father-in-law.

God would watch our family each Thanksgiving and laugh, He knew our family needed someone to carve the turkey because the son was not very good at it despite all the YouTube videos he would watch each holiday.

So, God made my father-in-law.

A father is the first hero a son or daughter will know. His influence lasts much longer than life.

God created a father to be a living, breathing display of who He is; a leader, a protector, and a provider. While some are not with us for as long as we would like, they live on in our hearts.

This Thanksgiving, we will miss my incredible father-in-law at our dinner table. Thanksgiving will continue to be a time of giving as we carry on his spirit. The image of my father-in-law ‘s infectious smile and his endless jokes will remain in our hearts. Every new tradition we form will have his spirit woven into the foundation. He will live on through the stories we tell our family.

This holiday season, give your father or your father-in-law a call, hug him and appreciate him.

Lisa Ingrassia

Lisa is the Director of Events at Zenith Marketing Group, an insurance brokerage firm located in Freehold, NJ. She is passionate about sharing her father’s journey with cancer and bringing attention the difficult path a caregiver must walk. She has written guest articles for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, The Mighty & Her View From Home. She is also a guest blogger for The Huffington Post. Fun fact: She’s obsessed with her Boston terrier Diesel and loves the color blue.