It lasted all of about 5 minutes. I met his Dad first. Clyde Raymond Simpson. That's him.
Some people call him Clyde, most of his family calls him Raymond and many others know him as C.R. Any combination suits him fine.
C.R. greeted me with a big smile as Ken introduced us. I remember him making some quick-witted comment, probably teasing Ken about the age difference between us. He immediately made me feel comfortable though, like I had known him for years.
Over the last four plus years, that feeling has never changed.
I lost my Dad in 2004. Ken and I were on vacation in FL at C.R.'s and Bernice's (his wife) house when I found out the news. They immediately got a flight for me to get home and then C.R. drove with Ken back to VA in time for the funeral. He was so wonderful and gracious to my family in such a difficult time, and he barely even knew us.
That was the first of many times he has touched me. C.R. has become the Dad that I so dearly miss. He has also become the grandfather that my daughter lost. He is an amazing "Gramps". He takes all the girls to Florida every summer for a week or more and they go from one amusement park to another in a whirlwind of fun! He accepted Gena as his own grand-daughter from the very beginning and she adores him. He was so excited to find out he was having another grandson and has done nothing but adore Ryker ever since he came.
Today my husband and I attended a funeral for his uncle, Ira. C.R. is one of 14 children in his family, and now only six remain. I have unfortunately attended three funerals in four years for his siblings.
C.R. had made a "brother's promise" to Ira to deliver his eulogy at his service.
He started by saying that he wasn't a speaker by any means, and he was "nervous and scared", but he would do the best he could.
And that he did.
I had only met Ira a handful of times, and unfortunately after he had a stroke, so he was not the man he once was. I had little connection to the service or the man they were honoring. But the man delivering the eulogy brought me to tears on more than one occasion.
I have always said that I fell in love with my husband because he is the most genuine person I have ever met. He certainly gets it honest.
The love of a brother was so thick in the air as C.R. delivered his speech I had a hard time catching my breath. He fondly remembered times before Ira had his stroke and told stories of their childhood. He played some of Ira's favorite songs and quietly lip-sang them in remembrance.
He was calm and collected, but you knew inside he was shaking like a leaf. I was brought back to my Dad's funeral when I was physically shaking and how impossible the task of speaking was to me.
I was so proud of C.R. I was so proud to be a part of this Simpson family. I was so moved by his love and his dedication to his family.
There are times when I want to go to C.R. and hug him so tightly that I steal his breath away and tell him how much I love him and how dear he is to me. I always hold back though because I know he is not use to that kind of affection. So instead I will just write about it, because he probably will never see this.
So C.R., I have always been too scared to call you Dad... but that is exactly what you are to me. You are a pillar of strength to a family that loves you so deeply. You are my father, not by marriage, but by love.
I am so thankful to be a Simpson.