Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wild Flowers



In Memoriam

My Bishop died last Sunday. I have lived in many LDS wards, but only one was ever “my ward”. I have known many fine men who have presided over them, but only one who was my shepherd. Charles Morgan Hawkes was the bishop of my youth and he will always be “The Bishop” in my mind and heart.

His son and his grand daughter were at Loll when Bishop Hawkes passed. Leonard and Kathy heard the news over the camp phone late Sunday night, and left early in the morning, while the boys were packing for the Tetons.

The viewing was in the Felt Mortuary – the name has changed but it is the same. I even whispered, “My doesn’t he look nice.” to Leonard as I passed the casket. I noted the flowers, carefully arranged, and realized that we had not sent a tribute.

Flowers appeared again the next day as Bishop Hawkes son, Bishop Hawkes, spoke at the funeral in the “old ward house” in Brigham City. I sat with my friends, and marveled at the life of service recalled. I will quote Leonard a bit about flowers here. I will place his entire speech after the pictures.

From Leonard’s funeral oration:

“There are many more places I could speak of, but one more place I’m going to mention, and that’s the cemetery. As a family we’ve always celebrated a reverent, commemorative Memorial Day, but in Dad’s later years, that type of remembrance became even more important. I don’t remember when it was that Dad started caring for the graves in Logan, but it’s something that we’ve done for decades. And like his parents before him, raising flowers for use on Memorial Day was an important first harvest of the season. A poet once wrote:

The Flowers too sing out:
What we select,
Where we gather them,
How we bring them;
Even placement's gesture
Attests the Memory.

And let them be real,
Those that will lie
Some May upon me:
For honest weeds far
Surpass this purchase
Of Plastic, Paper and Silk.

L. M. Hawkes

And now as those left behind, if nothing better let us at least be “honest weeds,” may we appropriately remember.” (End quote)

I am not a poet like my friend. My words, like my plants, refuse to obay the rules. I do not hope for tended blossoms on some future Momorial Day; rather let my dust feed the roots of summer flowers, wild grown, on some lonely mountain top. May my ashes, like Wild Flowers, be scattered through the wilderness.

I do not raise flowers; I am not a gardener like the bishops Hawkes, but my flowers are wild, and beautiful, and I hope honest weeds at least. Let me give these pictures, gathered by our staff this summer from the mountains of Loll, as tribute to the man who tended me until I found the wilderness.






































































































































































































































































Funeral Talk 20 August 2009
C. Morgan Hawkes
Brigham City 15th Ward

I was at Camp Loll when I heard of Dad’s passing. I’d seen him the morning before, but I went up to camp to bring home my daughter Cathy and to help with the closing of camp. I remember well that Dad was with us that first time we went to Loll. We went up on Saturdays in those days, and Dad officiated at the Sunday services the next day. I remember feeling very proud and thankful for my father on that occasion, and I’ll never forget the spirit I felt in that sacrament meeting held on that big rock on the north side of Lake of the Woods, nor the opportunity I had to pass the sacrament in that meeting. As proud as I was of my father that day, I think I was equally proud to be a deacon, and to have had the opportunity to serve.

Speaking now after many years of Scouting service, one of the greatest legacies of Dad’s long term as bishop, is no doubt the many well-experienced youth leaders who are the result of Vern and Winston’s long tenure as scoutmasters. What a blessing to have had a bishop who cared enough about the youth, to have called and left two of the ward’s best in Scouting.

Here in the 15th Ward we have this beautiful reminder of the miracle of the restoration of the gospel (stained glass window). At Loll, however, the trees are real, our Heavenly Father, himself, created and decorated our chapel there, and I testify to you of his reality, and of his love for us.

My memories of my father are of course tied to this chapel where he served so many years as bishop, but equally they are tied to the old 7th Ward. In my early youth, Grandma and Grandpa Hawkes were the custodians of that building, and because there was more work to be done than they could do in a week, my dad, his brothers, and some of the cousins would help with the cleaning on Saturday mornings. It was a great family gathering; we would all work. We younger ones would usually polish glass and mirrors and wash sinks. Grandpa and the uncles would do the heavier work, and this weekly event, was to me, what it meant to be a Hawkes. We were entrusted with the sacred duty of preparing the building for Sabbath worship, and we did it as a family; enjoying each other’s company and learning along the way.

We cousins also did a lot of playing on those occasions which always seemed to include running around the outside of the building. But in those days, instead of having the extensive parking on the west side, that back side of the building was a bit gravely and well shaded with trees, and over that back fence, we could see Great-Grandma Wight’s House—to this day a shrine to our family pioneer heritage. She was a Wight, our bishop was a Wight, Aunt Barbara’s mother who lived next door was a Wight. In those years in the old 7th Ward, the family seemed particularly well rooted and eternal.

Another place I always felt very proud to be my father’s son was up to the Court House. During much of his career, that was where the School Board Office was, and that was where he worked—another Brigham City landmark that we got to know intimately. We knew that, within limits, we were always welcome at Dad’s work. For several years, the access to the Court House dome was through Dad’s office, and many times we’d climb the steps and ladders and look at the clock works, and even peek out the trap door on the back side that gave access to the flag pole. When your father works at the Court House, there’s no doubt that you and your family, are a part of the community, and of course the reach of his job extended throughout the entire county. The people of western Box Elder County were always especially dear and important to Dad, and I’ve seen that love he had for them reflected back to me many times, even in my own years of teaching the next generation.

There’s a mountain top south of Mantua where I also loved being my father’s son. My father was not a camper. He got cold easily, and he always said that camping out in a foxhole for a winter in Europe was enough camping for him for a lifetime. But we did go deer hunting. Usually we went with Winston and some of the neighbors, and because Winston was oriented to the Nelson family property, we’d usually go south and west of Dock Flat—sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes it was wintery with snow, sometimes it was almost like summer. In later years, “the hunt” got to be an excuse for camping there, enjoying the fall weather, and eating chili and apple dessert. And it was there that I first heard my father talk about the War. As I was growing up, it seemed that most kids dads were some kind of veteran. World War II was a reality that my mother often spoke of. We knew how they had lived in various parts of the country while Dad was training and going to school, and how she had lived in an apartment made from a chicken coop. But in those years, Dad, himself, didn’t talk much about the war. I remember so clearly standing around that camp fire and being in awe as he spoke first-hand about some of his European-front experiences. I don’t remember the details, but I’ll never forget how I felt.

And not too many years later, I was transferred from the northern most city of the Netherlands, to the southern most city, and while I was there in the South, in Limburg, through the weekly letters from home, I came to realize that that battle front my father had maintained in the Winter of 1944-1945 was there. Not Germany at all, but mostly there in the southern Netherlands where I was working. Those coal mine buildings that I passed every day in Heerlen were where he had showered and rested every so many days during that legendarily cold winter. Those shops in the neighboring city of Maastricht were where he had done his “Christmas shopping.” --A chilling irony that his battlefield was a quarter century later, my mission field.

Some years after that, I had the opportunity to visit that place again with Mom and Dad. A professor from the plant ecology department at the University of Utrecht, whose life and freedom were preserved by those American rescuers of the Netherlands took us there, somewhat as a gesture of thanks. And we stood on a quiet hill overlooking the Ruur River. And Dad told how the blood flowed in the mud of that spring day of 1945, and of the shock of the artillery, and how the shrapnel flew, and how they were cut off there on that hill beyond the river.

Another place where I spent a lot of time with my father was the garden. Even in those busiest years when Dad was both bishop and Assistant School Superintendant, we had a fairly large garden. He spent countless hours there; I think he found refuge there, and from it he provided for us, and not just in fruits and vegetables. Much of what I learned about nature, work, and the law of the harvest came from that time in the garden. And last year, even when many things were no longer a concern for Dad, we still had to have some extra tomatoes in that northern patch, to share with the cousins in Idaho. In his heart, Uncle Bill, and the family in Idaho were never very far away.

And in recent years as I’ve taken over much of the planting and pruning and watering, I’ve often thought of the planting, and pruning and watering that we did in Grandpa Hawkes’ garden over there on First West. I also loved to go with Dad at breakfast time to give Grandpa Hawkes his insulin shot. Again, at Grandma Hawkes house, there was no doubt about our importance and obligation to one another as a family.

There are many more places I could speak of, but one more place I’m going to mention, and that’s the cemetery. As a family we’ve always celebrated a reverent, commemorative Memorial Day, but in Dad’s later years, that type of remembrance became even more important. I don’t remember when it was that Dad started caring for the graves in Logan, but it’s something that we’ve done for decades. And like his parents before him, raising flowers for use on Memorial Day was an important first harvest of the season. A poet once wrote:

The Flowers too sing out:

What we select,
Where we gather them,
How we bring them;
Even placement's gesture
Attests the Memory.

And let them be real,
Those that will lie
Some May upon me:
For honest weeds far
Surpass this purchase
Of Plastic, Paper and Silk.

L. M. Hawkes

And now as those left behind, if nothing better let us at least be “honest weeds,” may we appropriately remember. Remembrance is an admonition we receive again and again in our religion. May we remember Dad and what he stood for; may we remember the values and virtues and covenants that we should live according to; may we always remember this day, what we’ve thought and what we’ve felt in our hearts. And may we always remember Him, even Jesus Christ, hope and author of our eternal life, of whom I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for such an appropriate tribute. Tame flowers are just wild flowers that we take Home--I know these very well.

Reach Upward said...

I don't know that I ever had the privilege of meeting Leonard's father. But I have sensed some of the magnificence of his work.

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