Friday, June 03, 2005

John Charles Hayes - September 4, '36 - June 3, '05

My dad died on a June day. It was raining where I lived. Tears from heaven. The day seemed rather ordinary, like nothing unusual would take place. I had plans to write on my novella, fix brownies for Eric and practice "Amazing Grace" with him to sing at another saint's funeral on Friday.

At 10 p.m. I said good-bye to Eric and clicked on the TV to watch a "King of Queens" rerun. At 10:25, Mom called. She'd taken Dad to the hospital, and it didn't look good.

On a June day, my dad died. 12:10 a.m.

He was a great man. One of principles and ideals. He loved to reminisce and remember the good ole days of his idealic boyhood in Portsmouth, Ohio. A child of the '40s and '50s, he grew up in a time when you walked the streets of the town at midnight without fear.

He had a great laugh. When he laughed, you knew the joke was funny. I can still see his face, and hear his laugh, the first time we listened to Bill Cosby's album, "Roland and the Rollercoaster." He laughed so hard at the car-with-an-airplane-engine bit he couldn't breath. "The best car was owned by Charlie Wayne...."

Dad made people feel safe, like everything would be all right. My Great Aunt Lillian used to say that about him and it was true. More than once I called him crying and stressed from Ohio State claiming, "I can't do it. I just can't." But he always talked me down off the ledge and assured me beyond a shadow of a doubt I could do it. And I did.

I'm a writer today because of him. "You should be a writer, Rachel," he would always say to me. You know, he only read a few of my pieces, but something inside his father's heart knew - she's a writer. He never told me I couldn't, only that I could.

Don't get me wrong, he disciplined us. But always in love. We reveared him, had a healthy fear of him, but we were not afraid of him. I always knew I could run into his arms.

But the greatest thing about my dad is that he loved Jesus. A man betrayed by friends in the body of Christ, he never, ever gave up his Hope. He pursued the Lord despite let downs and disappointments, he never blamed God. So great was his love and desire to serve the Lord, he gave up a very successful architectural job to pursue the ministry. He did not store up many earthly treasures, but stored them up in heaven where moths and rust cannot detroy.

I remember Dad taking us on drives through the Shawnee on warm summer days, listening for bird calls, and fishing over the low bridge of Turkey creek, and the sound of Grandma's gravel driveway. I remember frozen Snicker bits in the freeze at Christmas, and the year he played a hand game with me until he was laughing so hard he couldn't continue.

I can't imagine the burden he felt when he moved us to Oklahoma from Ohio to got to seminary, yet so confident God had called him. Then from Oklahoma to Kentucky to Florida. Always pursuing what God, always wanting more.

I remember the Sunday in Tallahassee when he shared about giving up the riches of this world for the riches of the Kingdom. How he turned down his brother's offer to join him in his architectural firm. He chose the eternal over the temporal.

He loved to study, and worship. He believed in the beauty and revelation of Jesus. Even in his weakness, he demonstrated the love of the Father to his children.

Life will not be the same without him. I'll miss his occassional mid-week calls just to talk and say Hi, or maybe discuss something of the Lord. Once in awhile he stayed over night while driving down to south Florida to check on a state building. He was an architect for the state.

He bought me my first Bible, King James, when I was six. He played the hand bone and did a little trick with his thumb to make it look like it was missing.

When my brother, Danny, and I were real little, kindergarten age, he'd drive to the corner store in that old white Chevy and have us run in to buy his cigarettes 'cause he was in his stocking feet. Can you see a five year old going, "Can I have a pack of Camels?" It's funny really. Innocent in an odd way.

Every night Mom had us pray for him, "Please help Daddy give up cigarettes." One day, he went for a smoke and it tasted bad. He tried another cigarette, and it tasted bad, too. Next, he opened a new pack, and it tasted bad. God delivered him from cigarettes and he never craved them again.

He loved Shelties, Cleveland Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes' Football, ice cream and cookies, chip, (I get it all legitimately!) He loved his family and friends, walks in the woods and Boy Scout Camp. He loved me.

On a June day, my dad saw the face of the One he pursued his whole life, Jesus.

See ya in a few, Pop.


Christine Lynxwiler said...


This is such a beautiful tribute to your dad. Even those who never knew him will feel like they did when they read your words. Thank you for sharing this with us. Loving you and praying for you and your family!


Heather Diane Tipton said...

Wow, I feel like I got to know a wonderful man of God through your words. I'm so sorry for your loss, Rachel. I'm praying for you and your family.

Sandy said...


How beautifully you captured your Uncle John. Tears streamed with the memories...I had forgotten some, but others were like we lived them yesterday...thanks for the tribute..Your Dad was a strong witness for Jesus, and many will be greating him in heaven because of his witness and faith.

Love Ya .......Cousin Sandy

Tracey Bateman said...

Thanks for sharing your dad with me, Rachel. What an awesome legacy for you. No wonder you are so amazing. I'm praying for you until your heart is better.
Love you, My friend.
Tracey B

Mom said...

Dearest Rachel, I read your blogs about your Dad, my husband. I laughed and cried and it felt good. You are a wonderful writer. Dad always said you could say in a sentence what it took him a paragraph to say. Thank you for being such a wonderful daughter. Love Mom

Ron T. Phillips said...

My Beloved Precious Rachel,
Your mother and I finally got together today. I have been very ill and could not come to the funeral. I had been in bed and the doctor was running test and I was afraid I had cancer. But thank God I do not. I am still sick but better. I just cried an cried when I got Danny's e-mail. I loved your Daddy so much. We communicated a lot and prayed a lot for each other. He was one of the most precious and dearest men I ever knew. And we love each other. He and I talked often about our pain and triumps through Grace and that forgiveness was one of the greatest gifts God ever gave us and that we could ever give someone else.
Your tribute to your Father touched me so deeply we cried.
Your have always been so special and we love you and miss seeing you.Maybe one day soon we can all get together with your Mother and share how we overcame.
John's is and will always remain one of my most trusted and loving friends and brothers.
Bless you,
Uncle Ron and Aunt Deedee