Reflections on a BIG Birthday: March 7, 2016
This is a solemn day but not a sad one.
Today we said goodbye to my wonderful Stepmother, Maggie Dean, widow of “Fireball”, and of my Dad, John B. Hunter II.
Her minister of over 30 years hit the nail on the head in stating he never remembered her speaking ill of any person and never heard anyone speak ill of her.
She was nurturing, loving, and caring. When she reached retirement age, she decided she wasn’t done, and began caring for other persons’ babies and stayed with them until they became young adults and teen-agers.
After my parents, John and Betty Lee (O’Grady) Hunter, divorced, over twenty years ago, they reconciled and were very close again in my Mother’s last years. It is a special memory when I served on the Board of First WV Bank, to have a meal with them each month at Figaretti’s. They had many differences, but I got to watch them be in love for as long as I knew them.
And Maggie and Fireball were “True Loves”. It is obvious to me that Maggie was utterly devoted to her first husband and her children and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and church…(you get the point!)
My Mother was as devoted to her children as any woman could be. When I did well at something, she worked to make sure I didn’t get a swelled head, and when I “stumped my toe”, she was always there to support and encourage me. She died of smoking related illnesses in 1999. After that, my Dad soldiered on.
But, then came that day when he got a call, from Maggie, advising she was not that far away and ready for that lunch he had suggested a couple weeks before. They seemed to move from “old friends” to inseparable in a short time. We liked her the instant we met her and loved the connection that her daughter Lexie and I had attended 4-H Camp together, and that my best friend Dick had come home from the first grade to announce he was in love with her oldest daughter Sharon.
Dick learned a good lesson, when his family made fun of him and named one of their Jersey heifers “Sharon”! Dick said, “That’s the last time I told them anything!
My Dad had the nastiest landlady every. When she gave him a short notice that she was putting up his rented home up for sale, Dad prepared himself to move to the VA facility in the Eastern Panhandle. Maggie said, “Oh no you don’t. You are moving in with Bev and me.” Bev was my stepsister Beverly Dean, who treated my Dad like her Dad. It broke Maggie’s heart when she died in July.
Maggie was a bit nervous to tell her five children that Dad was moving in, but they instantly reassured her that such decisions were solely hers, and that they would support her. With “all hand on board”, we moved Dad’s stuff into storage, and he moved in to Maggie’s home on “Dog Hollow Road”.
They married 2-3 years later, just a month before my Father passed away. She gave him great happiness in what could have been lonely, miserable, years.
And……..today is my 70th birthday! I have been dreading it. I am high energy. I need 7-8 hours’ sleep, but, with that, I can honestly say I am a dynamo. I work 55-60 hours a week. I have written nearly 900 pages and 300 blog articles in the last five years.
This year I chaired the WV State Bar and WV Board of Education Video Competition for H.S. and Middle School Students, Magna Carta, Its Significance in its 800 Anniversary Year, have been invited to present at three seminars, and have served as a member of the board of governors of the WV Association for Justice (WVAJ) and WV State Bar.
I do NOT want to slow down. I want to stay active in my profession while reading and learning history, philosophy, science, fiction, biographies, and politics. I want so much to figure out my best view of our place in this universe, and the most likely course mankind will take.
I want to stay alert and active so I can watch my children making their way in the world. I am so proud of them. I want to watch my grandchildren grow and learn. It breaks my heart that Bob Goodfellow, Betty Lee Hunter, and John B Hunter II never got to know their Grandchildren. My Dad was so thrilled with “Annie”; Anna Elizabeth Hunter. At his funeral, at the exact spot I stood yesterday and today, I saw Anna’s first steps. Not the very first, as I didn’t get there in time, but that’s where hit happened!
That’s why I detest smoking and tobacco. God willing, we will take care of ourselves and have 2-3 wonderful decades.
If I weren’t honoring Maggie today, with loving family, and giving me her wonderful, courageous, example, I fear that I would have been a self-absorbed grouch. I had planned to post this link to Dylan Thomas’ famous poem: Rage Against the Dying of the Light:
Instead, I am counting my blessings, planning on at least 10 productive working years, more writing, lots of work here on our 10 acres, travel with my bride of 47 years, and loving and appreciating every minute I have on this earth.
I was supposed to weave into this two really excellent NPR TED Radio Hour shows, a couple of books, some tips to my fellow lawyers, and a couple nice jokes, but I am out of time.
Instead, I wish for each of you to have good health, to keep your family ties strong, to maintain friendships over the years, to stay engaged and active, to forgive freely, to think and not just accept, and to jump happily into the last third of your life, it you are blessed to make it whole to the age of 70.
This post was written by Burton Hunter