Today would have been my father-in-law's 71st birthday. Dan Mausser passed away 11 years ago but, today on his birthday, I would like to write a few words to remember him by.
Dan was a gentle, quiet man, but he had a presence, which seemed to fill a room. When he smiled, it was as bright as the sun spreading its warm rays upon you. He was a loving husband, a caring father and a devoted grandfather. Dan was a world-traveler who loved his family, golf, stocks, music, and his homes -- especially his cabin in Mammoth Lakes.
The first time I visited the cabin, I was blown away. Jason and I had been dating for about two years when Dan and Judith invited us to spend the weekend with them. This was a very special place for both my in-laws, so it was a big deal for me.
During the six-hour drive, Jason told me that there had been some contention about the sleeping arrangements. Dan and Judy were eclectic, unique and (somewhat) liberal thinking individuals, but equally conservative and traditional. Judith had suggested that she and I bunk together, while Dan and Jason do the same in the two bedroom cabin. Having shared a bed with my mom and grandmother on too many occasions to count, I was not put out by this suggestion at all, although it was an interesting concept.
However, when we arrived around 1 a.m., Dan and Judith were already sleeping. But, Judith had arranged a tea service, wine and cheese (for whatever we may have been in the mood for) and the bed linens were turned down and elegant. It was a warm welcome and the sleeping arrangements were no longer an issue.
We woke the next morning -- in September -- to more than a foot of snow. And, later in the day when the sun had broken through, we had the most incredible day. The best part was when we all dressed up in our finest duds, which included Judith in her mink coat, while Dan drove us around Mammoth Lakes to show off the beauty of his favorite place.
We all had a fantastic weekend -- eating delicious dinners with fine wines, hiking and just having fun. So much fun that Jason and I made it our annual pilgrimage to go up to the cabin with Dan and Judith every fall.
It wasn't until we were driving home that Jason told me his Dad had been the one to make the decision to allow us to share the same bed. To this day, I believe that Dan had made his judgement based on the true love that he saw between Jason and I. He knew that I wasn't just "some girl Jason was dating" but someone special. Maybe he noticed that Jason's feelings for me were the same feelings he himself had felt for Judith years ago.
Two years later, I was fortunate enough to have both Jason and Dan by my side on my wedding day.
Dan never treated me like an "in-law," he always treated me like I was one of his own daughters so my relationship with him was very special to me. I really looked up to him and appreciated his zest for life. Jason and I shared many fun times with his parents -- so many that I can't count. The one constant memory that keeps popping into my head is that we were always laughing together. We would laugh until the tears came and our belly's ached.
Dan was a good and decent man who is missed by so many. Our lives are lacking without him here -- especially for our son Shane -- but we must always remember that by just knowing Dan our lives are richer. He will always be a part of us and his memory will live in our hearts forever.
Happy Birthday Dan!