Blessed to hit the in-law jackpot

When you get married, you get the whole package.

That can be good or bad.

In my case, it was neither.

It was great.

My in-laws are anything but outlaws. I know everybody can’t say that. I’ve heard the horror stories. But I’m here to tell you, there’s another side of the story, too.

Living in the same town as your in-laws can be hard on a marriage. But for the past 39 years, that’s not been the case with me. Actually, it has been quite the opposite.

Fred and Alva Boggs, two of the finest people on God’s green earth.

My father-in-law turned 90 years young Saturday. It’s hard for me to believe because he has the engine of somebody quite younger, and the strength of somebody much, much younger. Ask anybody who knows him. He doesn’t just do for me — he does for everybody.

He’s been my plumber, my electrician, my carpenter, my mechanic, my jack-of-all trades, my handyman, my gardener, my bat-chaser, my dog-sitter, my rescuer when the battery is dead, when the tire goes flat, when the car won’t start, when the commode doesn’t flush, when the water line needs repairing. You get the picture.

Consider that in the last five years he has participated with the Marine Corps League at funerals and parades and projects, including carry 50-pound bags of cement for the Gold Star Families monument, and recorded his first hole-in-one. That’s all happened since he turned 85. Can anybody top that?

His wife is much like him. She would rather be doing than sitting. She does for everybody, too, and cooks like nobody else (a trait she has passed along to her three daughters and grown granddaughters quite well, I might add). And everybody counts on them. Both of them. For everything. We do, church friends do, family does, our pastor does, everybody does. I’m not kidding. Their plate is always full, yet they’ll make room for more.

The reason for their success in life is they have their priorities in order: God, family, friends. Always. Never failing. God, family, friends. They would rather do for others than themselves and that’s a quality you don’t see from the me-world very often.

They have both been world travelers, serving as missionaries in Uganda with the late Harold Cathey and his wife Beverly. They once stayed with them for seven months as they did for others, just like they have done for a lifetime, only this time it was on the other side of the world. They are role models for missionaries of today like Amy Compston, who looks up to them like few others in her life. I’m in a discipleship group with my father-in-law at church and the other men are beyond honored – they’re humbled really – to have him with us. That’s the impact he makes even though he doesn’t even know it.

The impact also rubs off on the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all love and admire their Papaw and Mamaw so much. They have been role models to them as well, always loving and, most importantly of all, always praying.

My father-in-law has taken on projects for me that would have cost a fortune with professionals doing it. He’s like MacGyver when it comes to fixing things. If there’s a way for something to be fixed without really having the right stuff to fix it, he could do it. I’ve never seen anybody know so much about everything.

He’s a logical thinker (like his middle daughter). He’ll study it, then solve it. The Rubik Cube wouldn’t have had a chance with him. Eventually anyway.

My in-laws are also dependable. They are like clockwork. They would be your first lifeline. They are both fountains of wisdom. Compassion runs through them.

I know they’d do anything for me as I would them. They’re more than in-laws to me. They’re family. I didn’t know it at the time, but I hit the in-law jackpot 39 years ago.

If you know Fred Boggs, wish him a happy 90th birthday this week. While you’re at it, give Alva a virtual hug, too. They are two of the most special people on God’s green earth.

It is, indeed, well with their soul.

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