You can be choosey with a spouse and select whomever you want to share your life with; you cannot, however, pick the in-laws you will inherit. You’re not just blending your life with your husband’s, you’re blending families together. Oftentimes people joke about their in-laws, or struggle to mesh during holidays and dread special occasions. I get it, mine couldn’t be different. But nonetheless, I did get lucky.

I married a man who is a carbon copy of his father.

I owe my father-in-law a tremendous thank you for raising the man he did.

I met Danny, my father-in-law when my husband and I started dating. We didn’t cross paths too frequently, and when we did, Danny was a man of very few words.  I’m an anxious human being, so I was left to wonder, “Does he like me?” My husband had been divorced before, and I know Danny was on high alert with his paternal instincts watching out for his son. Although quiet, he was remarkably welcoming. I never walked into his home nervous, and I was able to be my true self.

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The more I watched him the more I saw how patient he was. The more I got to know him, I learned how much he loved his wife and truly saw and appreciated all she brought to the family. He embraced and adopted her son, and has SIX children who adore him and are eternally grateful for a stable upbringing filled with happy memories.

And the more I grew to know my husband, the more I saw his father in him.

Dad and grown son

My husband can fix anything. He’s a soldier and computer whiz, but he can find a way to save a dollar and repair things himself. He takes apart cars for fun, builds beautiful home furnishings with his own two hands, and is truly a craftsman. He is quick to offer a helping hand to those in need, and is incredibly laid back (thank goodness, because I’m high strung).

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At our wedding, I watched as my husband danced with his mom and stepmom, and the tears that filled their eyes. I also watched his father, full of pride and happy tears, quietly in the back of the room support our special day smiling to his son from afar. As I said, he’s a man of few words. But when he does speak, he pours his heart into his words and opens up. My husband is the same. He doesn’t tell me much, but he doesn’t have to. You just know. You just feel it.

As with any father and son, there were challenging times, and blood boiling mistakes. My husband was no picnic as a teenager. But his dad handled these years and slip-ups with grace and forgiveness that I’m confident my husband will show to our boy when the time comes.

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My son is growing up with a true role model of a grandfather, who’s lived a life of humility and love, and a father who exudes hard work in every possible way, who followed in his father’s footsteps. He’s got big shoes to fill, but each day he takes a step a little bit more into his grandfather’s legacy.

Man holding baby

Dear father-in-law, you live on in more than hair color and nose shape, you have left behind a little boy who passionately wants to be like his daddy, and shadow his every move to live a life of memory and fatherly bonding that my husband cherished with you for 18 years. I can see what’s on the horizon for my son, and I thank you for all that you are—for so much of what my son will be. I love you.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.