Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Gift

Dad would have turned eighty-five on Valentine's Day had he lived. He's been gone for almost six years and although I think of him less, I miss him more. I came into possession of a teddy bear three years ago and Kaitlyn and Chelsey, two of my then-sophomore students, decided to call him Roger after Dad's office nameplate that sat on my teacher's desk. The following, from April 8, 2009, is more of a Valentine's story than a birthday tale but in this case, the two intersect. I wish you could have known my dad.

As we prepared to bury Mom last week, Dave remarked that he was looking forward to an April without a funeral. Two years ago this week, Harper died. One week from today is the one year anniversary of Dad's death. And now, Mom. I guess I am still numb but overwhelmed by the love and concern by both my church and school families. After school this afternoon, two of my students, Katie and Cody, knocked on my classroom door to check on me and make sure I was all right. I was touched- I would not have done that as an eighth grader...or senior.

I find myself mentally merging the lives and passing of my folks. The day Mom died, Scott and I went in and packed up all her belongings from her room at Larksfield Place. I don't consider myself as being sentimental but I kept one thing for myself. Dad was an incredible romantic when it came to Mom. Being born on Valentine's Day and marrying on Christmas Day probably played into those tendencies. Four months after his stroke, Dad was able to move back home where he stayed with round the clock care. He was a shell of himself physically, having lost a great deal of weight and having to get around with a walker, and sometimes a cane. Dad decided on February 5th that he wanted to get Mom a special Valentine so he had the nurse drive him to the nearby WALGREEN'S. He saw the stuffed puppy pictured above, and was sure Mom would love it. His intention was to go to her nursing home on Valentine's Day/his birthday and present it to his bride. It never happened. Before February 14th, Dad went back to St. Luke's and never left. I found the puppy at Spring Break in the house and asked if he would like me to take it to her; he did. That's how it ended up in Mom's possession, from my hand and not Dad's. I brought it home with me from the funeral, not knowing what I will do with it. But I can look at that small gift and know it was the last gift Dad ever bought for Mom. On that same Spring Break trip, I went to see Dad in the hospital after dropping in on Mom. I told him about visiting Mom and in a halting, hopeful voice, he asked the toughest question I've ever been hit with: "Does she ever ask about me?" I heard the pain and the anxiety from a man who desperately loved his wife. I told him, "No, Dad" but I assured him she still loved him, too. They never saw each other again on this side of eternity but I'll bet Dad's last thought was of Mom. It might have been his sweetest thought ever.

Applicable quote of the day #1:
"Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets."
Ogden Nash

Applicable quote of the day #2:
"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."
Amy Bloom

**Special thanks to Karen Keese for her photographic expertise!**

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@Hawleybooks.com


Family fun said...

The photos I sent you of your Dad and Mom were difficult ones for me to see again. I remembered that day and how desperatly your Dad tried to get your Mom to say anything to him - there were tears in his eyes. I appologized for bringing her, that I hadn't meant to upset him but he insisted that he was glad I had. On the way back to the nursing home, I stopped at McDonalds and got her an iced tea (she had been wiping her mouth as if she were thirsty) She drank for the longest time and then said "ah - that's good" The remaineder of the trip back she was awake and commenting on the colors of the trees - I almost turned back around to take her back so they could share that type of visit as opposed to the one that they had just finished. Like you, I assured Roger that his Bride still loved him, evidenced by the twinkle in her eye when I would mention his name.

Faith and Love said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faith and Love said...

woww...now that is true love! your parents sound like wonderful people Coach Hawley...and I know for a fact they were because you are such a great teacher and person. HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

p.s. I think it's incredible how you were honest with your dad when he asked if your mom ever asked abouth him. I think in those situations it's so easy to lie and say "yes" to make people feel better. But, I love how you were completely honest.

Jan Samuel said...

Hi Steve and God's peace to you and your family.
Psalm 91 to you and your family.
Greetings from
Jan Samuel from Norway.

Toyin O. said...

What a great story, very touching, thanks for sharing:)

Susan said...

I had to wipe my eyes and blow my nose before commenting Steve! I could picture everything and almost hear your dad expressing his love for Nelda! Thanks for posting this great love story.