Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When Dad Died, Act III

(A shot of a home worship service in Brooklyn. Dad is checking his watch, Mom is singing wearing a corsage, Dave is sitting and smiling at the camera, and I'm in the apple box.)
Recently, I posted some thoughts I shared when Dad passed away on April 15, 2008. A number of you told me you were touched so I thought I would post some more. Last time, I promise!

Did you know Dad almost burned down Nebraska Youth Camp (Trail Junction) one summer? Shortly before Dad died, Larry Nossaman and his family visited him and Larry started singing the song the campers made up, There'll Be A Hot Time In The Old Camp Tonight (FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!) Dad and Mrs. O'Leary! 
We were so touched that Larry and his wife, Susan, drove two hours just to see Dad for about one minute to say good-bye. The Nossamans were great friends of ours in York.
Dad's oldest possession was a little yellow lemon Christmas tree ornament. It was so frail it was translucent. It reminded Dad of his childhood. I think I will miss him most at Christmas. He lovcd real trees and tradition. Dad promised with all the chaos of this past Christmas, that next Christmas would be extra special. I hope we can make that come true.
Dad broke his leg when I was a sophomore in high school. The broken leg grew longer than the other one!
I have a new pen pal today! Chloe is the daughter of Steve and Dixie, two of my folks' closest friends. Dad always thought Chloe was special and I see why. Dixie showered us with food during the last week we were in St. Louis. Chloe came along and we struck up a friendship. I gave her one of Dad's prize books...and she loves it! Chloe is only in kindergarten but I predict we will have some great e-mail conversations. Praise God for all the parents like Dixie and Steve who raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
I received a new book in the mail today and I don't know who sent it. (I suspect Karen.) It is entitled Twelve Ordinary Men, and it is an in-depth look at the apostles. I started reading it the nights I spent in the hospital with Dad. I never was able to finish it and I was using Karen's copy. Dad loved the Scriptures and the Gospels most of all.
The Lord answered prayers when he roomed Steele Glenn and Dad together at Surrey Place. They had known each other before but shared suffering draws people even closer. Steele helped Dad through the loneliness of a long stint in rehabilitation.
Dad once organized a track meet for us out on the farm. Dr. Jim White- Jimmy at the time- remembers he was so excited he could not sleep the night before. We even had blue ribbons! It's amazing how a cow pasture could pass for an Olympic stadium!

My favorite food Dad ever cooked was French Puffs. He made them for his college classes at York and Lubbock. They were sweet muffins whose tops were soaked in butter/sugar/cinnamon. Unbelievably good!
I regret I was not more empathetic towards Dad (and Uncle Monroe) when their parents died. I was off in college and in my own little world. I now know how much it hurt.
I have Dad's old metal nameplate on my desk, engraved with ROGER W. HAWLEY. I don't know how old it is but I never remember it not being on his desk.
One of the thrills of life when we were little was when Dad took Dave and me to The Dump on the outskirts of York, Nebraska on Saturdays. The Dump was a boy's dream: rats, dogs, rocks, glass bottles, and you could break anything you wanted! Plus, and this is a big plus, the place was always on fire! I thought the guy that lived there had the best job in the world!
I almost burned our chicken house down trying to catch a plastic milk carton on fire. Mom and Dad were none-too-pleased.

We never had a great lawn. The folks let us play in the yard and the grass had bare spots for pitcher's mounds, end zones, etc. Landscaping took a backseat to letting us be kids. And, even though Dad never played himself, he always put up a basketball goal on the garage at all our houses when we were old enough.
I learned what I know about preaching weddings from Dad. He had the gift and helped guide me along when I began being asked to perform marriage ceremonies. In a number of the weddings I've presided over, I've used the vows Grandpa Hawley wrote for my parents' nuptials on December 25, 1949. Oftentimes, my dad used his dad's language verbatim when it came to the vows and I have followed suit. Big day for me yesterday! Jackie Marini, a junior at WCS and one of my all-time favorite students, asked me if I will preach her wedding when the BIG DAY arrives. She doesn't know the guy yet or the date, but she has a minister lined up. Let me go on record- Jackie will be a stunning bride!
We always had rhubarb growing in our yard in Nebraska and Mom made the best rhubarb pie. (My students today told me they had never heard of rhubarb!) Last June, on their final trip through York, Dad brought back a bunch of rhubarb from Sheila and Bruce Tandy's yard to make pies. There was still some remaining last week when Jeanette and Dixie went to the house and cleaned out the freezer. Dixie wrote and told me she took some home and made strawberry rhubarb pie and the Bakers thought about Dad as they enjoyed the dessert. You know he would have loved that!
There were Sundays in York when Dad would preach five sermons a day: early and late morning service, early and late evening service, afternoon worship at the Nebraska State Prison For Women. I get exhausted preaching once!

As much as Dad preached, he had to have some mess ups. His biggest one perhaps came when he was preaching on a Sunday morning during a High School Days (Minnow Weekend) at York College. He was preaching on the difficulties of parenting and he meant to say, "This generation is the victim of over-protective parents." It somehow got garbled and over-protective became over-productive. It took minutes for the congregants to quit laughing....and Dad giggled right along with the rest.

One of the hardest things Dad struggled with in regards to Mom had to do with her losing the capability to drive without being dangerous, both to herself and to others. It broke his heart because she did not realize her slippage and it eroded her sense of independence. Almost until the end, Dad vowed he would prove the neurologist wrong and he would drive again. He told me he knew it was unlikely but he had to have something to hope for.

I had Dad for a professor for one day at York College in Psychology. On the second day of the semester, I switched to Dr. Gayle Napier's section. The reason was practical- I did not like the grading system Dad laid out in his course syllabus.
Mom and Dad had a red Special Plate that they broke out for anyone who had a special occasion. Your name was inscribed on the back and the plate hung on the wall in a place of honor. Many folks dined on that piece of china over the years. (I think they bought it at HALLMARK.)
Last Friday, Chelsey, who is one of my student aides, had nine inches of her hair cut off and donated to Locks Of Love. The hair goes to make wigs for girls who have cancer and lost their hair due to chemotherapy. My first cousin, Marsha, and Dad both survived cancer so Chelsey's sacrifice means a great deal to me.
Speaking of cancer, Dad was a one-time president of the Nebraska Cancer Society. When I was a sophomore, Dad caught me smoking. My punishment? I had to read all the anti-smoking pamphlets! (I can't tell you where I got the cigarettes from. One of my brothers might have to resign as an elder!)
Dad's PH.D dissertation was footnoted in Gary Smalley's well-known book, The Blessing.
The only hymn I remember hearing in Brooklyn when I was very young is Beyond The Sunset. It is my favorite comfort song dealing with death.

Dad built identical bookshelves into the walls of their last four houses....and he had enough books to fill them up.
This is a typical joke I heard Dad tell:
"A new author and an old author were talking. The experienced author asked the novice how his first book was coming along. The reply was that it was progressing except he could not come up with a title. The old author thought a minute and asked, 'Are there any drums in the book?' The new author answered there were not. 'Are there any trumpets in your book?' The answer again was negative. The old author concluded, 'It's easy, then. Call it NO DRUMS, NO TRUMPETS!' "

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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