My Father-in-Law’s Kindness

fatherly father in law

My Father-in-Law’s Kindness

By Tonya S. Swindell

fatherly father in law

Courtesy of Tonya Swindell

My father-in-law is kind-hearted, friendly, hard-working, and funny.  Even before I became a member of his family, I saw him work, serve and encourage others in unique ways.  Now that he’s my father-in-law, my family and I receive his acts of kindness on a regular basis.  When I was a child, I called him ‘Mr. Swindell’.  Our families knew each other because of our participation in an historic African American community nestled within my hometown.  Mr. Swindell was raised there so he often visited his aunt, who served on the mother’s board, and his uncle, who was a deacon at the church my father pastored.  On Sunday mornings, just after service began, I would see Mr. Swindell walk through the wooden double doors at the back of the sanctuary, dressed (as always) in a nice suit, starched shirt and colorful tie.  Directly behind him, in single file, were his wife, two of his daughters and one son.  I had no idea I would marry Mr. Swindell’s son one day.  I’m so blessed to have that memory now!

Hard-working Father-in-Law

Mr. Swindell was also my brother’s basketball coach.  According to my brother, he was a father figure to all of the players.  My mother also worked with Mr. Swindell at a facility where he was a basic education instructor and taught woodworking to adults with disabilities.  Some people still know my father-in-law as, “Earl the Wood Man” because he still sells wood to support his family.  He’s also a licensed funeral director.  He used his professional training and personal experience to respond to me in a helpful way after my father passed away.  Currently, my father-in-law encourages me about my blog posts.  After reading my last post (which I dedicated to my deceased father), he texted me the phrase: “Great memories will last a lifetime”.

Over time, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for my father-in-law’s kindness.  He’s supported his children and grandchildren in many ways.  He drove through sun, hurricanes, and snow to help us move in and out of apartments, graduate from college, start new jobs, and get married.  He also helped paint houses, mow lawns and transport grandkids to and from school.  He uses his mouth to quack like a duck, which gets his grandchildren’s attention and makes them smile.  He also asks his grandkids how they’re doing, and really listens for their responses.

How He’s Taught Me

Recently my father-in-law used his unique story telling ability and sense of humor to encourage me.  He demonstrated what it looks like when a person tries to say “No” to someone God has already favored with “Yes”.  His demonstration reminded me of lyrics from the song “Say Yes” by Michelle Williams, which say, “When Jesus say ‘Yes!’ nobody can say ‘No!’”  My father-in-law is a good guy who expresses his love to others in unique ways.  ‘Mr. Swindell’ is my father-in-law now, but I usually call him, ‘Dad’!

Tonya S. Swindell
Tonya S. Swindell
Tonya S. Swindell enjoys working with veterans an occupational therapist in the mental health field. She recently published an article in OT Practice magazine, which highlighted her work with traumatic brain-injured veterans. She is also a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School. She enjoys reading, writing, doing spoken word performances and spending time with family and friends. She and her high school sweetheart have been married for 22 years and have 4 very active and intelligent children!


  1. Robin says:

    I was one of those in single file coming to the church your father pastored in my youth. Little did I know then the connection we would have today. I love this post sister.

  2. Torain Sinclair says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man!!

  3. Greta Johnson says:

    This an awesome Blog…. Please keep writing they are very inspirational on how God has demonstrated his love for people. It is a Blessing to read these words and some of the memories I can visualize as if I was there too.

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