You might know that this is the fifth anniversary of my father's death. To honor Dad, the man who influenced me the most, I am honoring his dad, my grandfather, the man who influenced my father the most. This is from December 4th 2006. The young lady, Veronica Fontenot who is quoted, is now one of our WCS teachers! The framed copy I speak of now resides above my desk as I type. At the bottom, I have included a comment left by Dad on my blog page the day I wrote this piece.
It was written when he was eighteen years old; he called it The Making Of A Man. Grandpa Hawley was simply Harold Hawley when he penned the essay for an oratory contest in a Michigan high school more than ninety years ago. It remains excellent, evoking echoes of a by-gone era when eloquence was valued more than glitter. His topic was interwoven with references to Nathanael Hawthorne's The Great Stone Face. The words he penned belied his age, revealing a young man of extraordinary maturity. My father has a framed copy of the speech, flanked by two pictures of my grandfather. In one photo, Harold E. Hawley is a teen ready to challenge the world. In the other, he is an old man of roughly seventy-five years of age. His earlier portrait fascinates me and not simply from curiosity of seeing my grandpa as a teenager. What intrigues me is that my grandfather-in-waiting is a dead ringer for Wayne, my first cousin and the son of Dad's brother, Monroe. To me, it is Wayne dressed in the clothing of previous generations. The DNA didn't fall far from the family tree.
It was in my mailbox last week, one of those Have You Seen Us? flyers that asks the public to be on the lookout for missing persons. The pictures are of a father and son whose whereabouts have been a mystery since 3/28/1993. As is often the case, the images have been doctored with age progression. The boy is now seventeen while the picture his likeness is based on was taken when he was only two. Using either artists' renditions or digital enhancement, these age progressions try to predict what someone might look like in the near or distant future. It is an inexact science, but one that could prove helpful in identifying someone who has disappeared. I wonder if any of these missing people see these forecasts of their future selves.... and laugh. Last week, I asked my classes this question: If you could in some sort of Back To The Future moment see a picture of yourself at age seventy-five, would you choose to look? Each student was required to write a paragraph explaining their answer. It was divided but not evenly. More said no than yes. Fear prompted the negative responses while curiosity was the impetus behind the positive replies. Jared Jernigan had an excellent summary of the rationale for refusing to peek:
"I would be terrified to see a wrinkled, seventy-five year old version of me."
Speaking for the affirmative, Veronica Fontenot voiced her sentiments:
"Yes, I would want to know. Pictures speak a thousand words. I enjoy going through photo albums and looking at pictures of my family and me. It is almost always possible to tell if a person is happy or not. I would want to see my picture to see what kind of smile I have. It would be either a fake smile, saying life could be better or a real smile that says I am truly happy at seventy-five."
As always, the kids thought of scenarios and viewpoints I had not considered. And as always, I retained the right to not divulge my answer to the same question. Besides, I'm considerably closer to the seven-and-one-half-decade milestone than my students. In First Corinthians 13, Paul speaks of the future when we will no longer be in the dark regarding the outcome of our lives:"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known."
I can wait. If my reflection is poor now, what will it be in the future? Will I be handsome or just old? Will I be kind or just bitter? Will I be who I think I will be or some stranger I can't recognize? That unveiling promises to be the ultimate age progression...and it won't be digitally enhanced.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Would you make the most of life? Then choose integrity and right living. These will clothe you with virtues and graces that are essential conditions of true success. They will fit you to meet the battles of life and bring you out a victor, so that at last your comrades will say of you, 'He was a Man.' "
Harold E. Hawley (from The Making Of A Man, circa 1913)
Steve (grandson of Harold E. and Minnie Petersen Hawley)
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(I don't know why I am listed as Steve Hawley.) But anyway--This is very touching. I have always treasured this oration by my dad, your Grandpa. He was unconsciously writing at 18 the plan of his life, and that's how it turned out. It was much like the story of the young Ernest in Hawthorne's "Great Stone Face" who kept looking at the noble qualities he thought he saw in that face and over time took them on as his own, becoming as an old man the one whom legend said would one day return to their valley. It's as Paul said in 1 Cor. 3:18:
"And we, who with unveiled faces all contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
I'd better quit or I could be accused of taking over your blog.