Love Is All That Matters

Loss

Where four children, seven grandchildren and a legacy of love started 55-years ago.

My father-in-law passed away Sunday night.

He’d been a young stage actor in New York. He’d been one of the original writers on Captain Kangaroo.

He’d won a television Emmy for his work on Barney Miller and worked on several hit sitcoms throughout the 80s and 90s.

He was a provocative artist. My favorite piece of his portrays a wealthy family in front of their McMansion with the dead-eyed matriarch in the foreground holding a tiny dog wearing a sheer blouse, her entitled nipples and middle finger sending us a message.  

I loved seeing people’s reactions when they looked away from my father-in-law’s kindly, cherubic face to his in-your-face paintings.

He was a master woodworker,  grilled cheese sandwich cooker,  player-piano singer, Fred-the-Dog overfeeder, coffee-for-Granny butler, color-with-grandkids cohort and “May I?” card champion.

But what he did best was inspire love.

All four of his children and his beloved wife of 55 years were by his side for the three days before he passed. I was fortunate enough to be with them for a period of time and the love in that room was palpable.

Family can be complicated. People make mistakes, but whatever complications or mistakes my father-in-law may have made over those 55 years, they were nothing compared to the love he created.

My husband has his dad’s sparkling blue eyes, shy nose, wry, sometimes mischievous smile and best of all his loving heart.

I think my daughter, Bridget summed it up best when she wrote this note to Pop Pop after he passed:

“I can barely believe how nice you are! I bet all of the angels will love you.”

14 thoughts on “Love Is All That Matters”

  1. Shannon Colleary

    Hi Chaloop – They were indeed a glamorous couple, but also down to earth. I got lucky when I landed in their family.

  2. Oh my goodness what a bittersweet story. What a beautiful romance it sounded like they had, and such a fulfilled life.

    I know that death is a part of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It sucks…I hate it. I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. Shannon Colleary

      Thanks Jamie. It does suck. My in-laws marriage is inspirational to me. They had some tough times and some personal obstacles to overcome, but family was and is their highest value.

  3. So, so sorry to hear of his passing.

    How proud he must be to see the words you’ve written.

    Shannon, this was just beautiful.

    Much love to you and your entire family at this time.

  4. Terrie-Hirdman-Kully

    It seems as though anything that should be said , has been said by your’ close friends.However ,I would like to thank you for making this story of true love available to us all. It is a beautiful example of the true love that seems somehow either lost or dumbed down in our society.I know that in my case ( and I’m not alone here!) the lack of love in our home led to my running away from my Fathers’ house in my junior year..and trying to fill that void led to all kinds of sad shit…Praise God for the true love of family!!!!It’s a gift that keeps on giving !!!

    1. Shannon Colleary

      Hi Terrie — thanks so much for sharing your story. I do think my in-laws’ marriage is the exception. They had some tough times they fought their way through. I don’t know if people are as willing today to stave off their need for immediate gratification. Their story showed me marriage is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. My parents were incredibly loving, but there were a few divorces in there. I feel like I’m lucky I got married pretty late in life and hope I’m mature enough to handle my marriage the way my in-laws did. Know this though, you are not alone in the “Sad shit” category. There were many years where I was probably right there with you. Best wishes for the new year.

    1. Shannon Colleary

      He certainly did have such an incredible life. In his home office there are hundreds of hours of bound Captain Kangaroo scripts that he wrote. He also helped write a Captain Kangaroo book that my girls now read. And he never once would bring any of that up in conversation. He was an all cattle, no hat kind of guy.

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