Friday, August 31, 2018

The Spectrum

This is a story about our family from December 27, 2006. A little update: Harper went to heaven four months later on April 7, 2007 and my folks joined her in the next two years. Zach and Haley have since adopted two wonderful boys, Bennett and Deacon!

We drove back to St. Louis from Wichita yesterday. Dad, Mom, and I made the return trip after spending four cold days on the Kansas plains. It wasn't supposed to be the way my Christmas vacation would go. My brothers Dave and Scott and their families were coming to Missouri to celebrate the holidays but the realities of life intervened. My great niece Harper has been in intensive care in an Oklahoma hospital for the past three weeks so our plans changed. Last Saturday, we drove to Oklahoma City from Wichita and I saw the latest child to bear the last name of our family. Harper, only six months old, has been having recurring seizures for weeks. The doctors have Harper on a ventilator, placing her in a drug-induced coma in an effort to find the source of her condition. They let us go back into her room two at a time for about one minute per visit. I was with my mother as she beheld her great granddaughter for the first time. I know it did not register with Mom but there was this beautiful little child, sleeping peacefully, wrapped in tubes and monitors. It has been a traumatic, gut-wrenching experience for my nephew, Zach, and his wife, Haley, as they have watched the doctors struggle to diagnose the illness of their first born. They have been overwhelmed with the kindnesses flowing non-stop from family and friends, as well as strangers whose hearts have been touched with the plight of the most innocent among us, a newborn.

The videotape was about ten years old. A friend gave it to Dad recently and he wanted us to watch it as a family. We did, on Christmas Eve. Our mother, pre-Alzheimer's, was being interviewed by a lady in their church. The topic was raising children according to God's plan and the Christian sister probed Mom as to her philosophy and the child rearing course of action followed by Nelda and Roger Hawley. I guess I knew everything my mother talked about before I heard it on tape but that wasn't what hit me. I realized I had at least partially forgotten who my mother was. The words of wisdom which came from her did not surprise me. What made me sad was that I did not recognize her voice, so eloquent in a gracious, rural, Southern kind of way. Her recent method of communicating in random, unconnected words and phrases, spoken almost in a whisper shoved Mom's real voice into a dark alcove of my memories. I told Dad he needs to make copies of the tape for all of us. Harper needs to see what her great grandmother was like and more importantly, hear who she was from her own lips. I need to hear it again, too.

In the second chapter of Luke, we read about two old people in the temple overjoyed to see the baby who would become the Savior of mankind. Simeon and Anna knew the little one in Mary's arms was from the Lord and destined for indescribable greatness, despite his humble earthly roots. Jesus didn't skip the baby stage and go right to fighting Satan and I don't think that was accidental. On Christmas Eve, we opened presents at my brother Scott's house in Wichita. As we sat around a real, old fashioned tree you take from the earth, Mom received the night's most unique gift. My sister Cecelya sent her a baby doll, realistic in size, weight, and feel. Mom has taken to the infant girl, snuggling and holding her gently. Tonight, she was bouncing on her lap the addition to the family and talking to her like any great grandmother would talk to her great granddaughter. Mom can no longer distinguish between a real baby and a doll but she still loves with the maternal love of which God gave her a double helping. Dad told us Mom had wished for a female descendant named Cimmarron: that sounds like a good name for the doll. Until she gets the chance to hold Harper, cradling a plastic baby tenderly in her arms will have to do. The youngest Hawley and the oldest Hawley will love each other; they just haven't been formally introduced.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Before I got married, I had six theories about bringing up children. Now I have six children and no theories."
John Wilmot

God bless,
Steve (son of Nelda Hawley, great uncle of Harper Hawley)
Luke 18:1
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God Bless!

Family fun said...

What a touching story about your mom! I can still clearly hear her gentle voice - so filled with love! It was so hard to see her fade away but the deepest hurt for me I think was that she didn't have the memory of the way she had touched so many lives over the years and how hurt she was when she told me that Roger wouldn't let her teach anymore. God blessed you with a wonderful mother that gave you the example not only of a good mother but what a good Christian was. She is truely missed!