Friday, January 10, 2014

Superman Ben Hazlett

Isn't it interesting how much you can tell about someone by looking at their family? Don't get me wrong, you can't always judge someone by their kids. If that we're true, after a few minutes with my son, I would be branded as the worst daddy ever... Of course it's obviously true since I don't allow him to watch 12 hours of Curious George or eat his weight in Oreos. However, I like to think that beneath those things are the positive signs of me and the husband and father I am trying to become.

For instance, just the other day I came home after a particularly stressful day. I had no sooner pulled into the garage then the door to the house flung open and my son yelled as loud as he could "mom, daddy's home! I was then met by a flurry of hugs from both him and his sister both acting as if I was returning from a long and perilous journey. Mary then said "hi, I love you, dinner's ready, gotta go." So that tells me that with all the things I still do wrong at least my kids love me.  And while you may be thinking that Mary was bailing on me, I choose to see it this way: my wife trusts that I'm a good enough father to take over immediately, feed and bathe the kids and put both of them to sleep with no instruction manual (not that I would read it anyway) and with no additional adult supervision.  And although the house was slightly more messy and I forgot Benson's socks, I still claim it as a successful "dad night." So hopefully, with enough of those kinds of experiences, people may know me a little more through my kids and my spouse.

As I reflect more on the life of Marlene Terry, I have begun to apply that same measure to her. She often spoke about her supermen. I think that looking at some of them can tell us more about her. Let's start with her husband. First, I would argue that you don't marry someone, stay with them for 51 years and have 8 children along the way if both of you don't have a bit of superhuman stuff.  And if you know Marlene, you know she wouldn't settle for just anyone to share all that with.

I have known Verl for 10 years now. One of the first times I met him after having proposed to Mary, he was literally cleaning his shot guns.  When we shook hands, he almost crushed mine and I wondered if he was both estimating my manliness and deciding if he should load the guns then and there. 

Of course, it didn't take long for me to realize the kind of man Marlene had chosen years before.  Since then I have glimpsed repeatedly both what she said about him being super and how she subtly helped make him even more great.  My own father passed away 4 years ago after years of battling dementia. During that time I often found myself longing for the advice fathers are supposed to give about marriage and family and most importantly what golf club to use on a par 3. Yet just as heroes do, and perhaps with some encouragement from Marlene, Verl stepped seamlessly into that role.  Providing the support I was missing from my own dad. 

Next, Marlene has 4 sons. Anyone who knew Marlene knew how proud she was of those supermen. They earned their capes just be being born into her family. Watching Jim take her on Mustang, whitewater, and hot air balloon rides you could see her glow a bit more each time. Hearing her talk about how incredible Mike's artwork or slide shows were, you could sense the pride in her voice. Listening to her rave about how smart Ryan was and how he had explained some principle to her that she hadn't solved yet all while making her smile, you could feel her admiration. And listening to her describe the amazing handcrafted woodwork that Richard had completed you could see her again beaming with pride. As I watched them all come together to morn her loss and celebrate her life, it was obvious how good a mother she has been.

Finally, she has her grandsons. These mini supermen loved their nana... at times it seemed more than they loved their parents. Which is understandable since they were her kryptonite and could get her to do almost anything for them or with them.  Her influence in their lives can be seen in the stories they tell of her and the honorable young men they are all becoming.

As I see it, Supermen are made greater by knowing, loving, and being loved by Superwomen like Marlene.  I am very grateful to have had that experience and to continue to associate with her most important legacy: all of her Supermen.