My father-in law passed away the other day after a brief illness.
Steve Richard was a man of faith, in a better place after minimal suffering.
A native of Haiti, Steve was a retired surgeon. A warm, proud and intensely private man.
He was also a striking, stylish man. Always impeccably dressed. Cuff links, pressed pants, not a hair out of place. If he owned a pair of jeans it must have been a gag. And when Tania jokes about wearing patent leather shoes to the park, I believe her.
The first time we met he sat in the corner with a digital camera (he loved his gadgets) taking snapshots, which Tania promised was a good sign, not part of an elaborate background check.
I kept thinking here I am, a divorced father of two, with my own paparazzi.
A week later one of the pictures arrived in the mail in a makeshift paper frame.
I was in.
More importantly, my kids were in also. He embraced them as his own. In our family, the only "steps" lead to a different floor.
He started watching golf, a sport as foreign to him as skateboarding until he learned about my love of the game. At family gatherings he would look my way and in his thick Haitian accent ask me about "Taaaguh Woooods" or what it meant to "score ze birdie" or if it was good to "score ze paaar."
He always offered me a wide grin and a firm handshake, and would playfully walk up behind Tania and pinch the back of her neck.
Tania and her Dad were close, and shared a love of film. He was proud of her artistic success and loved seeing her perform.
And the man could dance.
I had heard the stories for some time. As children Tania and her two older sisters would gather in the living room and her parents would dance for them before heading out on the town. A beautiful, graceful couple.
Leading up to our wedding, he was coy on the subject, acting like a "first dance" with Tania was not in the cards.
As he approached the dance floor, I stood in awe. The room stood still, in awe. He took my bride in his arms and floated about to the theme from "To Sir with Love." Sidney Poitier meets Fred Astaire. He had a look of utter contentment, full of joy, at peace.
A photo sequence of the moment, which I treasure, hangs in our home.
I have a lot to live up to. Godspeed my friend.