Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mr. Hemingway

Today we went to Mr. Hemingway's 90th birthday party. He once said his goal was to be teaching when he turned 90. Well, his 90th birthday was actually on Thursday, and he spent it teaching a math class at the college. He has been a teacher for 66 years. I used to teach GED classes with him for most of the 1990's. He has been teacher, mentor, and friend. But forevermore, he will be the man that was in the right place at the right time, just when I needed him most.
After I went to another campus, he managed to show up every now and then at my office to just keep in touch. The last time he made a surprise visit was on Friday, April 11, 2008. While we ate lunch in the back office, I got a phone call from Maura, only it wasn't Maura. It was the P.A. from the university health center telling me that Maura had a very large tumor in her abdomen. That was the moment the earth stopped spinning. Mr. H. saw me struggle not to fall apart as the P.A gave me as many details as he could. By the time I spoke to Maura, I couldn't hang on any longer. I asked her if she wanted to pray. She said yes. And then I couldn't say a word. Nothing came out. I thrust the phone in Mr. H's face and he took over. He started out by saying, "Dear Lord," and Maura, thinking he had said, "Dear Maura," responded with "Yes, sir?" Mr. H. probably figured it was her vocal Baptist upbringing coming out because he didn't skip a beat. He prayed, and Sarah saw what was going on and joined us. I wish I could say that then I was calm and all was well. Not so. But I can't imagine a more perfect person to be with me when I received the most terrifying news of my life. Mr. Hemingway prayed and I could sense his strength in the prayer, and I didn't feel alone. After the phone call, I tried to formulate a plan, and I didn't feel alone. There's something very comforting about knowing that there is a spiritual giant praying for you.
Happy 90th, Mr. H! I love you!


Anonymous said...

I read about him in the Chronicle the other day. That is so inspiring and touching to hear that he was with you when you heard the news about Maura. I read the whole article and was very moved by his life. I am glad that he was there for you. God bless you as you continue to grieve and heal. I think about you often, even though I don't know you personally. My son knew Maura from college and he would keep me updated on her.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for continuing to write even after the passing of your beautiful and talented daughter. I knew Maura from High School, she is so amazing (as you yourself know). She has certainly touched my heart in a way that nobody else has. I find myself grieving for someone I hardly knew. I will forever remember her amazing smile, and how she could light up a room with it. I know the pain I feel for her loss doesn't come close to yours..but I have you and your wonderful family in my prayers everyday. What a lucky girl Maura was to have such an awesome family that was there for her every step of the way. She is certainly watching over us all now in Heaven. God Bless you and your family.