Today I have been thinking about what I can say about Patrick Atkins, a man who has been my dear Father In-law for almost a decade now. Memories, something special, or simply my feelings. I’ve stumbled across a theme that encompasses his best qualities, and that is his intense focus on whatever he was doing.
When Pat was working, his focus was phenomenal. It was of great value to companies like CSA Engineering/Moog, Lockheed Martin, and NASA. He became invaluable on nearly every project he worked on. He spent hours studying for college classes. He developed software and spreadsheets, systems to make tasks like inventory easier and more organized. He was passionate about it, proud of what he did, and eager to share his passion and knowledge with everyone. He never did anything half-heartedly, it was all or nothing.
I realized today that when he played or did something joyfully, he was the same way. The pool would be full of children and a few adults. We’d ask him to join us. Suddenly, the biggest kid of all came in with a giant cannonball, sending water splashing every which way. The children shrieked with joy. There would be splashing, and laughing, and water gun fights. Nothing was done halfway, it was all or nothing.
When you had his attention, you had all of it. He may have been working hard on important things, but when he sat to read Ben or Grace a book, or give them a hug, it was with all of his being, all of his consciousness, all of his heart. I admire his ability to be so fully present.
In a way, it was easy to lose sight of the amazing amount of love Pat had for all of his friends of family. It was overshadowed by his brilliant mind. But any time it showed, it was the same way. Intense, 100%, all encompassing, without hesitation. When I married his daughter, he shook my hand and said “take good care of her.” He said it with such intensity, meaning and feeling that I will never forget it. The look in his eyes, the sound of his voice, the grip of his hand.
We asked guests at our wedding to put comment cards in a box with advice, wishes or special thoughts. We read them later on and there were many from him, all with the same theme. Don’t forget your family, your family loves you and will always be there for you. I will do my best to follow his advice and his request, always.
He loved his wife, friends, children, and grandchildren so very much. It was not often expressed in sweeping gestures, but when it was…it was everything. I figured I’d have another 30 years from now to get to know him better, laugh, play, and love. We’ve all suffered a huge loss in that way. But at least we know that we had him, all of him, in so many of those special times. And hopefully we can learn to enjoy the rest of the moments we have together with reckless abandon.