Promises to My Father-In-Law After His Passing


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Dear Father-in-Law,

Your grandson, Eli, turned three this past Friday. As I was listing everyone who would be joining us, he added your name, “And YehYeh!” he excitedly said. I told him you left us four days ago, that you would no longer be with us on this physical plane. He said, “YehYeh is sleeping!” At the time, I didn’t know how to respond, so I said, “Yes, he is sleeping,” but what I really wanted to say is that Grandpa will be sleeping forever, but he will always be with you, son.

I wanted to tell him that YehYeh is with him, even when you don’t see him. I wanted to tell him how much YehYeh loved him and how much he would want to be here to celebrate with him. I wanted to tell him so many things about his YehYeh, but I just didn’t have the strength to do it without crying. 

And so I promise you this:

I promise to talk about you often so even though you aren’t here, he will know you through the stories that we share of you.  I promise to tell him about the little things that made you uniquely you, like your love for milk tea, McDonald’s coffee, sudoku, and politics. We will remind Eli how caring you were to him and how you shared a special relationship with him. I will tell him that “YehYeh” was his first word and that Eli is the last boy to be carrying on YehYeh’s surname name.  

I promise to remind him of how loving you were, like how you said, “You are now one of my daughters,” after I got married.  I’ll never forget how touching that was. I felt SO accepted and welcomed into the family. I will remind your grandson that you held to that word. You were a man of your word, and I will tell Eli that I hope he takes on this trait because I really did feel like I was your daughter, a part of your family.  

I promise to share funny stories, like when we were at a Chinese restaurant and you were teaching me how to say “father-in-law’ in Cantonese, but instead of saying that, I called you an ass two or three times. I will remind Eli how, for the longest time, you called me Jane or Jan, when my name is Jenn, and that when I finally said,  “You can call me Jennifer,” you said perfectly, “Like Jennifer Aniston?”

I promise Eli and I will both learn Cantonese, and I will properly be able to say “father-in-law” without calling you an ass

I promise that Eli will know about your life and your acts of kindness. I will share the stories and special moments you had with Eli, like showing him the game 5, 10 and how Eli would point to his belly when you called him by his Chinese name and his chest when you called him Eli.

I promise these things because I miss you, and I wish you would have been here to see Eli grow. I know you would have made many more great memories together.

So I promise that we will cherish those memories you did have with him, and you live on forever in our hearts and in Eli’s.  We all miss you and love you YehYeh!

Rest in peace and heavenly love.  


Jane or Jan

(Your daughter-in-law named Jenn)


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Jennifer is Student Midwife who runs Little Ones Welcome, a holistic practice where she integrates Western and Eastern perspectives on Fertility and Pediatric health. She offers services in Acupuncture, Elimination Communication, and Post-Partum Preparedness. Jenn lives in San Francisco with her Husband Oliver, Son Eli, and Dog Franklin. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, walking, gardening, or just listening to the ocean waves. Jenn especially loves traveling, enjoying a good meal, and just chillin' with her boys !


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