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IN THE NAME OF LOVE
Marvin Lawson


Marvin Lawson with me on his shoulder,
mid-1950's

Kindness. Compassion.
On my top ten list, these are numbers
one and two.  A real-life example of spirit-in-kindness
incarnate was illustrated again and again in Marvin Lawson, my
earth father, whose blonde, tanned, beach-loving life was
brief, gone to spirit again after just forty-six years.

Of the many instances he shared in life,
two nights remain in my memory of him as emblamatic. He
was the youngest child in his family and adored
his mother, who now lived in a neighboring state.

In 1959 and 1960, before interstates and seat belts,
auto trips were made over back roads, highways and short-cuts
on roads often having soft shoulders and narrow lanes.

When Marvin got "the call" that his mother was
dying and would likely not live through the night,
mom, my sister, and I were hurriedly packed into the family car
as dad, an excellent driver and caring dad,
began the race of life and death, navigating
the back roads of the western Florida panhandle into southern Alabama
toward Montgomery in the dark of night
in an effort to be there for his mom "in time." As we
rounded a wooded, dark curvy back road, out of
nowhere a large dog ran in front of the right fender, so
closely it could barely be seen by the headlight. But
we felt the thud. We felt the rolling dog's body travel
under the car and out the back. Dad immediately stopped
and pulled over. Knowing what an animal lover my father was -
often stopping the car to help a turtle cross the
road safely - and how he could never have knowingly
harmed a dog, my mom was quick to remind him that
the dog was probably dead and it had been an accident and
we had a DEADLINE, so...
What would you have done?

In moments such as these, we show
our truest selves.

Dad got out of the car, took his flash light,
called us all to his aid and began the search
for the injured animal. We searched everywhere
imaginable. My father's anguished face told it
all. He searched every shadow in case
it was unconscious. He called out for it.
Maybe it had run off in shock. Only after
every effort had been made did we climb back into
the car and continue onward.

She must have waited for him...When we arrived,
we had time to go to her bedside
and say goodby to "Miss Ma," as we
children called her at her request, since
she felt she was too young to be called "grandma."
Dad didn't call her mom;it was "Peaches." He had a nickname
for everyone. Peaches was short for peaches and cream, because
she had such a pretty complexion.

We were asked to step into the hallway so
that dad could spend the last minutes alone with his mom.

It is at those moments -
when our wants and the needs of others seem to be at odds -
that character determines our course. We
felt dad's moment of anguish as he was
faced with a decision in which he could only control one element
- his behavior.
He could not stop the clock. It was
likely that any delay at all, even a red light,
would rob him of his last opportunity to
tell his mother he loved her, to say
goodbye.

And yet, in his own time of sorrow and
loss, compassion for the needs of another won out.
A living creature might be in pain or
hovering between life and death and he was
the one who could do something to help it at that moment.
And, he had two young daughters who were forming
lifetime impressions about life and love and caring
and compassion and prioritizing. He could not
save his mother. But it remained to be seen
whether or not he could save an animal he had
accidentally harmed. He knew the decision was made.
He knew his mother would understand...

She must have...she waited for him.
She breathed her last just minutes after
we arrived, as soon as he had said goodby to her.

BY THE YEAR 1970, the world was entering into a different era.
NASA had shown images to the folks on Earth of one of
their own walking on the moon. The civil rights
movement, anti-war protests, and Woodstock were
now common parlance. We who had been children
in the backseat of the car when dad had made his
final trip to see his mother were now
the teens and young adults with cars
and lives of our own and
trips home to visit our parents.

When my first son, Michael, came into this world
prematurely in the Fall, we worried about his ability
to survive. A full night's sleep was welcome.
On one of those nights, I was
awakened by visions that were both vivid and repetitive:
My father, who should have been asleep in his
own bed a thousand miles away, was enunciating
clearly the same few sentences again and again.
"What are you saying?" I thought. "I didn't understand.
What did you say?" I repeated. Awakening in a
chilled sweat,
I tried once more to go back to sleep. The
vision returned and the message repeated.
This time I was awakened by the
telephone's ringing. My mother was calling us
to say that "daddy" had passed away suddenly. He was
46 years old. His last words had been to announce
the proud birth of his first grandson, Michael,
born a little early but would be fine. Michael
survived and grew up, no doubt with the help of
Marvin's loving spirit, which had passed from his body
that same night.

TIME AND DISTANCE

In the events shared here, Marvin Lawson was
confronted with one of life's larger challenges -
separation by time and distance. He was
faced with trying to "do the right
thing" with two life versus death struggles
on his hands at the same time,
TWICE IN HIS LIFE!
He was faced with "curve balls,"
obstacles put in his path as he tried to
handle one of the largest emotional
crises in his life, the death of his mother.
He was trying to handle his own
vulnerable emotions and his duties as
a child, while not wanting to set a bad
example for his children as a father.

It was a defining moment in his life.
He handled his "time" dilemma -
so much to handle and very few moments
remaining to do so, by living in the NOW,
this moment. In this moment, the children were
here. In this moment, the dog was here.
First things first.

Time was the imaginary dragon.
It showed its illusionary qualities by
appearing as the dog. What seemed very
real in that moment was the impact,
the rolling movement, the sight of the dog,
the possibility of a long journey with
an injured, possibly dangerous dog in the car
in search of a vet at night. The idea of
a very long ordeal at the worst possible moment.....
did not happen. The dog had vanished.
No long journey, no further delay...The dog, the idea of
diminishing seconds and minutes was the imaginary dragon showing
its fiery breath. When Marvin decided to tackle
one moment at a time, using kindness and compassion,
the dragon of time withdrew its flame
and the breath of life held out for just the right amount of minutes.
The obstacle that came with distance disappeared.
Faced with the adversary of time and distance,
Marvin Lawson's tool of choice was kindness.
What would your's be if you were
tested today?

And, in the end, he was again given a choice
and the adversary was again time and distance.
His grandson arrived too early to survive
without assistance. Marvin's own first son had died
as a baby in the hospital. This time it
would be different. As Michael was entering
the world and struggling for life in a hospital in
Pennsylvania, Marvin was about to enter the hospital in
Florida and fight for his own life as well.
By late Fall, Michael was released home
to start his life.
Marvin was by his side -
in spirit.



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Asha of Antares.Asha Ariel Aleia.
Background image and photo courtesy Asha Ariel Aleia