Willard Demerle Hayes

My Dad.  Was born in Penna. Aug 13, 1913.  He says it was a Friday, and wont argue with him on that.  Naturally, 13 is his lucky number.  He left the farm at 16, and moved from Luthersburg Pa. to New Bethlehem Pa.. He got a job learning to weld in Pittsburgh putting in Otis Elevators.  Learning to weld was the very thing that build his life and career.  Back then, Dad learned about everything machine.  I don’t think we ever had a boat motor that had a cover on it for very long.  He was always taking them apart and making them run.  Same with cars…back then.  Not long ago, a car passed us on the street and he asked “What kind of car is that”.  I admitted I don’t know…and he said “That’s what’s wrong.  You can’t tell them apart anymore, and if you look under the hood, they’re all a jumble of cables and computers.  How can that be good?!  Yes, he was stubborn on occasion.  He taught me to fish and hunt and to survive in the wild.  How to make a fire with no matches and how to tickle a trout.  He was one of the most avid outdoorsmen I ever knew.  Because we lived relatively close to Canada, he took us fishing in Canada several times a year.  I loved catching fish that were always bigger than anything we caught at home.  I, and my two sisters, Donna, and Karen, was brought up on wild meat and fish.  Occaisonally we had beef and pork and always a turkey on Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving was a day for hunting till mid afternoon and then we would be hungry enough to go home and devour one of Moms baked turkey dinners.  It was not an infrequent happening that we had a special all game meal, where lots of friends came, some brought meat or other fixings and we would get to taste all the different animals that had been killed.  Moose was my favorite meat.  Bear was recognizable but I didn’t care for the stringy and fatty meat.  Dads mother-in-law “Mom Qwell”, lived to 102 and Dad says he’s going to beat her record.    Thank God for AnnaMae.  She has kept him for many years and loves sports as he does.  Today, I teased him about his age, which he always brings up now…I said Dad…you’re only 95…he called AnnaMae and said AnnaMae, how old am I?  She said, you’re 98 Bucky (his name he preferred) but you’re not going to make 99 if you don’t quit pissing on the toilet seat.  🙂  Perfect!

Age 98 on the right

Dad and me. He’s on the right.


I have been waiting for “That” phone call for over 10 yrs.  With Dad being so old, probably before 90, I gradually accepted the inevitable and when the call finally came, it was something of a relief.  Unreal, sad, painful and empty…only a few of the emotions.  For many years, my kids in Tucson have been telling me about the Tucson Gem Show in the first few weeks of February.  Logistics came about that I was able to go this past Feb.  I’ll write about the gem show separately as I know this particular blog will be painful.  Today is March 24th 2014 and I have tried to open the blog many times but just considering it was painful.  Mary had to work but was kind enough to let me go and I went on Feb 3rd.  It was great to see my kids again and they were great in introducing me to the show.  On Feb 7th, my son Chris came into my bedroom and told me Dad had died.  I was in emotional turmoil but having Chris deliver it made it so much more comfortable.  I’m not sure why.  So, there was a huge winter storm coming up the east coast, I found the date of the funeral and all my schedule had to be changed.  The funeral was on the 12th or 13th.  Mary drove from Lee Co. Va. to Akron Canton airport in Ohio, the day before.  I was free for visiting with my kids a few more days which were soothing and yet emotional as one would expect.  I had talked to Dad the night before and as usual he bragged about his age, and asked if I knew how old he was.  I said Dad, your over 100 yrs old and that scares the hell out of me.  He said “Me too”!  I was told they had done his motion therapy and when he got back in bed, he just closed his eyes and passed.  Very comforting.  His wife of almost 50 yrs, my stepmother Anna Mae, died just a day or two before Dad.  He was one of 9 kids born of a dairy farmer.  Several of his siblings came with a number of my cousins and lots of people that knew me, but I could remember very few.  One was my coach in high school.  Hard to believe that one!  It was comfortable sitting around and visiting with them all.  A preacher gave a short sermon.  Dad was a volunteer fireman for as long as I could remember and it was nice for me because I got to go to some fires and stand on the sidelines.  The New Bethlehem Fire Company sent a group of men 6 or 8 and they performed a ceremony at the end of which All of the fire sirens in NB wailed for 5 minutes while we listened in silence.  That was moving.  Dad looked so good in the casket.  I suspect that my being a physician allowed me to be more comfortable with death.  Over the years, I would photograph my hands beside his.  His, worn from years of manual labor with lots of callouses, Mine, soft and pliable but at 76 more arthritis than I’d like.  Dad would always ask what this was about when I took the photos.  My youngest daughter, January, asked that I take that pic one last time.  I did.  Not sure I want to show it here but maybe later.  Emotions still abound.  So Many questions already popping up that I wanted to ask.  I went thru that experience so many times in the years just before his death.  His Alzheimers prevented him from answering many and that was painful and to me scary because of my own dementia seemingly blossoming faster and faster.

Dad was so very wonderful to me.  I have to quit for a while..

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