F.I.L.: (noun) an acronym for FATHER-IN-LAW.
Example: You know Big Joe? Yeah, he is my FIL and scares the bejesus out of me.
Joseph Edward Kelleher, a proud product of Canton Massachusetts, has the distinct pleasure of being the father-in-law to his oldest child’s husband. Lucky guy. As I reflect on my nearly 50 years on this big blue ball, I realized I have known Joe for more than half of that time. As a 20 year old wiseass kid from Lowell I wanted to date his daughter and I would need to get this guy on my side.
Easier said than done.
A firm handshake and hardened gaze into my fearful eyes when we met, I quickly understood I best not mess around with this cat. While certainly kind and polite to me, I realized that his respect would need to be earned if I would be a part of his clan.
After a few years dating his baby girl, he warmed up to me; I want to say the temperature of a 2 hour old cup of coffee. Nonetheless, progress! The day finally came when I decided I would like to get married to his pride and joy. And while I was excited to make that leap of faith, I also knew I would need to get blessing from The Stone Wall of Silence. Yikes.
A cold, early winter evening, I was visiting their home of almost 30 years at the time and decided this was the day. I stalled. I hemmed. I hawed.
“You gotta do this buddy. Man up. Right thing to do. And if you don’t, this guy will bury you in the deep woods of his backyard,” my inner monologue screamed as I stared into the mirror of their bathroom seeking courage (or maybe a bottle of Jameson).
OK. The thought of the task is worse than the task. Right?
Created a diversion for my hopeful-future-wife and future MIL (Mother In Law, if you aren’t paying attention), I found myself alone with Big Joe in his man cave as he was watching Bruins’ action.
Here it goes.
Squeakily I began my plea.
“Um, Mr. Kelleher….”
A slow and deliberate turn of the head indicating to me, he was watching the game and what could I possibly want right now?
“I, uh, well….I really, um, well would like to ask Amy to marry me.“
Joe sat up in his cozy recliner (that I still don’t think I have ever had the courage to sit in to this day?) and pondered my inquiry for what seemed to be 7 years. After this eternal silence he finally deemed his verdict.
“Well, I guess you wouldn’t be the worst son in law?”
Sweet! Ringing endorsement. Good enough!
“Great. Thank you sir.”
Awkward, brief handshake/man-hug followed and I raced upstairs to look for Xanax.
The rest of that story is long history.
Bottom line, Joe is simply the strong, silent type and I have always respected that about him.
John Wayne is a bumbling, blabber-mouth compared to Joe. Joe is the REAL Quiet Man.
Humble, firm, fair; that’s my FIL.
Hard working, honest, loyal; that’s my FIL.
(Handsome SOB too! (you know what that acronym means, right?)
Over the last quarter century, our once slightly awkward relationship has evolved in to a true bond and friendship. Joe has always been there for me and, of course, his daughter and our children.
Joe is the guy that drives 40 minutes to fix…well anything, since his SIL (Son In Law, if you aren’t paying attention) is the most inept homeowner since The Money Pit.
Joe is the guy that offers sage advice and council during our darkest hours.
Cool, calm and collected. Always.
If actions speak louder than words than Joe is really loud.
To quote a classic movie line, “Would you rather be loved or feared?“
Well, Big Man, you have both of those emotions from your (favorite) son in law.
Love ya, FIL!
P.S. Joe’s other son-in-law asked for his blessing in some weird Men’s Hockey League locker room…nude. Real classy, Matty!
3 thoughts on “REAL MEN: Big Joe”
I so enjoy your stories. I don’t know Joe but feel like I do . Ive known mamy of your real men personally and you have written about them as I remember them. Thank you for that,
My dad was the quiet man too. Love this.