A dad’s memory of his son

A dad’s memory of his son

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Edward Lewis Hauck

July 6, 1955 – June 7, 2002

 

The reflection below was read by my father at my brother’s memorial service in 2002.  Ed and Debbie will soon have their first grandchild and I want to be sure this essay is shared with all of his legacy so as not to forget one of the truly great guys — my brother, Ed, and their dad and grandpa.

As a young science teacher, I recall discussions with my students concerning ways in which humans differ in our abilities from the rest of the animal kingdom.  The ability to laugh, including at ones’ self, and the superior gift of memory, especially long term memory, are two that are very important to me at this time.  My memory of Ed Hauck begins with his birth at a Fifth Air Force hospital in Nagoya, Japan.  His heritage includes Czech and Scotch second generation grandparents as well as German and Welsh grandparents who ancestors migrated to North America when our country was still a collection of colonies.

Ed was preceded in birth by his brother Mike, who was born twenty months earlier.  Two years later a younger brother, Tom, was born and the family was completed with sister, Tracy was born.  Their mother, the former Katie Hovorka died in February 1996.

Ed grew up in Medicine Lodge, Kansas — a rural County seat town along the Oklahoma border in south central Kansas.  Significant time during these growing up years was spent in Boulder, Colorado while I was attending graduate school.  These two environments seemed to suit our young family well and the events and escapades that unfolded during those years now provide us with rich personal stories — stories that seem to grow and get better each time they are shared.

Graduating from Medicine Lodge High School in 1973, Ed joined his older brother at Kansas State University, where both were members of the ATO fraternity, Ed majoring in electrical engineering.  In 1977 Ed and Debra Ann Comfort were married.  Upon graduation the following year they moved to Boulder County and began Ed’s career in Computer Engineering.  In the years that followed their three sons were born:  Todd, Christopher and Jeremy.

To me, Ed’s strengths were highlighted by his sense of enthusiasm as his anticipation built up for a project or upcoming event.  A backyard bar-b-q, homemade chili and cinnamon rolls, 4th of July and Halloween extravaganzas with Jeremy, model rocket launching or audio and computer projects with Todd, athletics with all threes sons, but especially with Chris, home improvement adventures with Debbie, events at work and with the Niwot Youth sports are but a few examples, large and small that benefited from Ed’s approach.  As the parent of a younger Ed, I saw this anticipation frequently reach expectations that were so high that crash and burn was the only possible outcome.  Crushed but never broken, Ed learned from these experiences. In a more sophisticated form this trait remained a part of Ed’s charm to the end.

I opened my remarks identifying the unique ability of long term memory that we all possess and I have tried to reach into mine a little and maybe stir yours.  It was an English poet that stated that it is this gift of memory that enables us to enjoy a rose in December.  At this time it is easy to have dark and cold December like thoughts but fortunately Ed has provided us with a wealth of roses.  I intend to enjoy those roses and know you will also.  God bless one of the really good guys, Ed Hauck.

 

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Time Dilation

Time Dilation

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As I get older, time just seems to fly by faster and faster.  Months and years go zipping past.  But sometimes, it is just a minute of time that seems to last far longer than it should.  Below is a list of 60 second waits that seem SO much longer:

  1. Standing in front of the microwave for a cup of water to boil for my morning jolt of tea.
  2. Waiting in line for an empty stall in the women’s restroom when I really have to go (ok, maybe longer than 60 seconds).
  3. Holding my breath under water longer than my brothers
  4. The squeaking sound of the hinge on the door across the hall from my office as it opens and closes and opens and closes
  5. Any type of public speaking or introductions at a meeting
  6. Waiting for my oncologist to read important test results
  7. Walking on hot pavement or hot sand at the beach in Texas
  8. Any type of hair removal process involving wax
  9. The sound of a crying baby
  10. Getting a vaccination
  11. Waiting for the voice mail instructions to finish before I listen to my messages
  12. Crosswalk lights
  13. Grinding coffee beans for fresh brewed coffee
  14. Waiting for the spin cycle to finish so I can open the lid on the dryer
  15. Brain freeze
  16. Holding still with a cardboard x-ray in my mouth at the dentist
  17. That moment when I exit or enter the ski lift (gracefully, I might add)
  18. Double dog dare stares – try not eye blinking for 60 seconds
  19. The drop from the Superman Tower of Power at Six Flags Over Texas
  20. Pain from hitting my funny bone

Time dilation means that time passes strangely. Sometimes it speeds up. Five hours pass by in five minutes. Sometimes it slows down, like the freeze frame familiar to any who has been in a car crash or in my case, when I slipped on wet pavement in London and took a slow motion forward roll that I will never forget.  It seemed to last forever.   Glad I had my puffy jacket on.

Do you have a time dilation that you would like to share while I wait for the pasta water to start to boil?

Girly-girl

Girly-girl

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Being the youngest child, surrounded by boys growing up, naturally had an impact. I idolized them and was always desperately seeking admittance into the brother fold. From sitting in my elder brothers’ rooms playing with their tinker toys and erector sets for hours on end to volunteering to play catcher in sandlot baseball games, through to jumping out of tree houses and hurling myself into creeks and ponds (near-death was a daily occurrence), I embraced a masculine edge. There was no room to be a girly-girl if I wanted to fit in. Undoubtedly these early experiences have influenced my life.

I wanted to be treated like one of the boys.  I remember that as the youngest sister to three brothers my mother wanted to feminize me; she tried her best with ballet, home-made dresses and piano lessons, but all I wanted to do was go outside barefoot and play football with the other kids on the block. But there were many times that I took refuge in my bedroom.  It is common for only sisters to spend time alone. According to internationally- known psychologist Kevin Leman, girls in boys’ households need solace and a respite. “She’s surrounded by boys all the time. She needs her own space where she can find peace and entertain herself.”  My parents were so smart to provide a bedroom across the hall from their room and away from the boy floor, so I could navigate through (and lick my wounds) in the male-dominated home environment of the Hauck family.  I would take the Sear’s “wishbook” and cut out pictures of clothes that I coveted and mid-century modern furniture to decorate my grown up, fantasy home in the secret of my room.  And I loved to lose myself in a good book – still do!

Even though there may be periods when they do not feel close, only sisters to brothers have special allies. “Only girls growing up with boys understand men much better than girls with lots of sisters,” explains Dr. Leman, who is the father of four girls and one boy. “They are comfortable around boys and men.” “These girls are taking a crash course in understanding men since they live with a variety of them. It takes the mystery away.” To understand women, only daughters look to their mothers. “And how mom handles her sons teaches girls how to handle boys,” confirms Dr. Leman.

My mom understood my needs very well.  When my dad grumbled about the expense of a cheerleader outfit that I desired in 8th grade, she reminded him that he had no concerns about dropping $50 on a new pair of basketball shoes each season.  My dad, said, “why would you want to cheer someone on when you can be in the game!” Not bad advice but when you are a female variety tween, you irrationally want to wear a cheerleader outfit at least once in your life.  After cheerleading for one year, I hung that idea up and followed my dad’s advice and focused on developing my leadership skills in sports and on clubs.

Having brothers taught me some very important lessons.  Never open a gym bag that a brother brings home from school.  Just let it be or you will have seared eyeballs and nose lining from the stench of the contents.  Never stay in an enclosed basement when the bb guns start firing.  They will shoot your eye out.  Never agree to ride with their girlfriends to get an ice cream cone.  They always break up with your brother eventually and then they want to come ask you “what went wrong!”  “I don’t know, he is just a jerk”  Never go into a bathroom immediately after a brother has been in the space.  You will need a gas mask and you will end up picking up all of the wet towels that he litters all over the floor.  Never agree to pull his finger.  Never.  Never agree to arm, leg or sumo wrestling matches (these games hurt too much even for a toughie).  Never play cards together (brothers cheat).  Never agree to help do dishes together (brothers vanish in a flash and leave lots of dishes to soak).

Boys stink.  But if you live to tell about it, they make everyday growing up an adventure.

Chicago

Chicago

Chicago makes you walk fast, drink rivers of hot coffee and throw fashion to the wind for functional and fuzzy stocking caps sporting the red letter, C, and sturdy, waterproof LL Bean galoshes that actually get muddy. Parkas, boots and mittens in March are mandatory along with a hearty outlook on life and a willingness to face the bracing wind off of Lake Michigan. Something transmogrifying about a spring break in the upper Midwest to affirm why I transplanted to warmer climates thirty years ago. But it was beautiful from the top of the Willis and Hancock Towers looking out above 100 plus floors of iron and glass at the city and the lake. Frozen ice reflects across the city scape and appeared false to my naked eye but the city was so very real in some memorable ways.

Top 10

10. Riding electric trains and walking fast on slippery sidewalks while hanging onto RM so he wouldn’t fall down. Oh, yeah, the time when RM nearly punched a middle-aged woman spewing profanity at me for what seemed a very long and slow-motion period of time on a city street between Ohio and Michigan Avenue. I swear I didn’t even make eye contact.

9. Picasso and his public art next to melting snow revealing mounds of cigarette butts exposed after one of the worse winters on record

8. Views of a frozen Lake Michigan slowly beginning to melt around the edges

7. James Beard award-winning Blackbird restaurant and the N.Y. cookbook editor we met and shared a cab ride. I wanted to peek at her scribed notes in her tiny journal but the mystery was most likely the best part

6. Stumbling into the warm interior of the Rookery…oh, Frank Lloyd Wright, you are a complex soul

5. Chicago Institute of Art …we were schooled at the institute

4. The morning knock on the door and arrival of hot coffee and newspaper

3. Day in the burbs with our daughter and the purchase of a 1920’s typewriter

2. Snow in March and jellies at the Shedd

1. Gothic architecture followed by prairie style and home again

High Road to Spring Break

High Road to Spring Break

This week at work, I felt myself slugging at times through too real moments reminiscent of the powerful and scary political scenes from the Netflix series, House of Cards, combined with the more mirthful and quirky moments from the TV series, Parks and Recreation. Am I the only one that has scenes from movies and TV series roll through their mind during moments of high stress or boredom at work?  More times than I like to admit, I find myself, especially during long meetings, in an out-of-body experience, drifting up on the ceiling of the conference room looking down on the room, and wondering, “how did I find myself here and where is this conversation going and why is it happening?”  “When will it end?”  Maybe I should check with my oncologist as a possible longstanding side effect of two rounds of chemotherapy?

I know I watched way too much TV growing up. Imagine, if my parents had exposed me to symphonic music as routine as CBS, and how my mental images may have altered this week while under stress. Instead of on the ceiling, with my fleeting cinematic memories,  I would instead break out into song or make the conference table my personal Steinway. Bad imagery as everyone knows, my clan can’t sing or use both of our hands on the keyboard.   With daily unplanned events pop up at work, end-a-rounds and egos get the attention they demand, it may seem the real work takes the back seat but instead you find, when you reflect that it is still in the front seat if we just “keep on, keeping on”, not allowing the noise and duress get in the way. Together, we filed grants totally more than 2M for campuses across the district, answered tons of calls from employees about an imperfect project roll out, planned for funding options from local, state and federal funders, continued on the launch path of an education foundation, and we took joyful moments to stop and listen to our workmates’ concerns and stop in our tracks for our dear customers. The reward is a full week to recharge our engines either at home or on an adventure. Who get’s Spring Break when they are over 50?  I do.  So let’s leave the ups and the downs of the week at work in public education behind us for just seven days and focus our attention on the true prize…our mates, our children, our pets, our families and our friends.  So privileged to have work that drives me crazy, up on the ceiling, and back down again.

Waiting on Friday night pizza

Waiting on Friday night pizza

While waiting on RM to watch the news and simultaneously prepare pizza from scratch, I am reflecting on my week and smiling. Moments include:

1. 6:30 a.m. walks in the cold weather — it clears your mind for the full day ahead

2. Bus tour to GO centers in FWISD middle schools with people who really care about kids and families. And are putting ideas into action

3. Texts and quick conversations with my girls

4. Looking forward to Chicago for Spring Break– we will pack our parkas

5. Social with my friends from Women’s Policy Forum and good conversation about politics in Texas

6. Girl’s Inc breakfast celebration and young women demonstrating their leadership, public speaking skills, and willingness to step up and taking healthy risks

7. Courageous conversations about breast cancer with women friends that every day get the diagnosis but keep on working, caring for others and themselves

8. Planning for a battery of grant proposal deadlines– we got this!

9. Sleeping on a new memory foam bed after 20 years on a box and spring. Why do we wait so long to update and upgrade household items? Because these purchases are so boring or other needs seem to come first. I am still sleeping on the edge but it is super comfy

10. The Ashland Avenue road work continues but I was able to park in my own driveway all week. Progress!