Friday, September 21, 2012

I've Got A Name

As I continue to prepare to speak next Friday at the Christian Family Services fund raiser in St. Louis next week, I continue to ponder the influence of my own family on my life. I wrote this about my father on February 14, 2006.

On this day in history in 1929, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre unfolded in Chicago. Al Capone's gang allegedly dressed as policemen and gunned down seven members of Bugs Moran's mob in a struggle for crime supremacy in the Windy City. No one was convicted of this notorious crime, one of the most infamous in US history. The same day, two hundred forty miles to the northeast, a less noted event also came to pass. A baby was born to Harold and Minnie Hawley in Ludington, Michigan. Their second child, Roger Wayne Hawley, joined older brother Monroe in completing a family which would do much good in the kingdom of God. This infant would in time become my father. My parents met in Arkansas as college students, married in Dad's senior year, and on Christmas Day celebrated their fifty-sixth wedding anniversary. Mom doesn't know it's his birthday. I reminded her the past two evenings but Alzheimer's won't allow her to retain the date or meaning. You can't believe how good Dad is to Mom. It didn't start when she started slipping away. He has simply followed the same path he has traveled on since December 25, 1949- a man puts his wife ahead of himself.

My dad was what his dad was, a preacher and an educator. His ministry took him to churches in Arkansas, New York, and Nebraska. In the late 1960's, he returned to college, enrolling in the University of Nebraska, earning Master's and Doctorate's in Clinical Psychology. Dad taught at York College, Lubbock Christian University, and Pepperdine University before moving to St. Louis in 1985. In Missouri, Dad worked for Christian Family Services, a Christian adoption agency, as marriage and family therapist. Since retiring, he has continued counseling through his congregation, doing more now by phone than in person. He has made adjustments due to Mom's condition but there are still many who rely on him for advice, guidance, and spiritual wisdom. He is a constant, maybe THE constant in many lives. Dad has turned into an excellent cook, having to shoulder culinary responsibilities in recent years. Like everything he does, my father is a perfectionist in the kitchen and looks forward to new recipe conquests. He takes his thirty minute walks when he can. Life revolves around my mom. Dad makes the best of it and in the process, is a terrific example of fulfilling marital vows the way the Lord intended.

I was born in Brooklyn, as was Dave. Scott came along in Nebraska and Cecelya and Sandy came to us when I was in elementary school. Seven of us lived in a three bedroom house with one bathroom/no shower. We didn't have much but we did have fun and love. Dad blistered me when I needed it, when the seriousness of the crime surpassed Mom's switching the back of my legs. He taught us lessons everyday just by living. Neither of my folks ever played a sport but all their sons coach for a living. They encouraged us but they never interfered or ruined the enjoyment of playing. Dad was the Director of Nebraska Youth Camp, a two week get together for kids from church of Christ families. I marveled at the enthusiasm he could muster for anything involving a group! He preached gospel meetings; the house was lonely while he was away. One summer, Mom was reading In Cold Blood, Truman Capote's chilling description of the mass murder of the Clutter family in Kansas, ONLY ONE STATE AWAY! She was jumpy until Dad came home. My folks were together on discipline. One thing I appreciate about my father is that he could get very upset about something we did....and then it was over. As a teacher and coach, that is not always easy to do. I know as a parent with the emotional investment, the spiritual responsibility, and the shared DNA thrown in, it would have been easy to stay angry with kids who strayed like kids do. He and Mom ALWAYS loved us, even when we were unlovable. And now, when I think of God as my Heavenly Father, it is easy to accept that he will be loving and forgiving to me. I have the best example here on earth. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

Applicable quote of the day:
"Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance."
Ruth E. Renkel

Applicable quote of the day, # 2:
"And I carry it with me like my daddy did."
Jim Croce/ I've Got A Name

God bless,
Steve (son of Roger and Nelda Hawley)
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at


Jeff K. said...

What a joy and encouragement to SEE God's love working in and through your fmaily. Your Dad is everything you have written and more.
Jeff K.

Mike Runcie said...

Steve - I have known your father since I was 18 years old and I am so glad to call him brother, mentor and friend. I count it a great privilege to have Roger as one of my professors at York College and then years later to have served with him at Christian Family Services. As a student, I would never have imagined that after receiving guidance from him that one day I would serve as his "boss." Roger was my speech teacher and years later when we were presenting a seminar together, he introduced me by saying, he "taught me to speak!" He is a wonderful example to us all and I can honestly say that I miss him hanging around the office. Thanks again Steve, for such a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.