In Loving Memory of Paul Hage
October 9, 1947 – November 9, 2017
Paul Alan Hage
October 9, 1947 – November 9, 2017
While vacationing in Spain Paul had a fatal pulmonary heart attack. He died instantly. His Memorial Service was December 2 at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church, where his ashes are interred. My Christmas letter this year is taken from his eulogy.
Paul and I met when I was 16. He had left for college, however he returned to Alamosa for youth group activities during the summer of 1965. We really never dated anyone else and throughout my junior and senior year he came home for my high school dances. New to the prom scene….
“Oh my love, my darling, I hunger for your touch, a long lonely time.”
“Unchained Melody.” That became our theme song for many years. We married in 1969 and Rebecca, Jonathan, Matthew, Rachel, Ruben, Robert, James, Jesse and Amber joined us. Through it all we danced. We mostly did country swing, but round dances, square dances, waltzes, cha chas were all within our repertoire. The kids grew up and left home and we started cruising….the Caribbean, Mediterranean, transatlantics…..always dancing. The first ones on the dance floor and the last ones off.
“Can I have this dance for the rest of my life. Will you be my partner, every night”
50 years of dancing. Now the dancing with Paul is done. I can hang up my cocktail dresses. However, the dance of life goes on, with or without Paul, my dance partners fill the world. We are doing the dance of love….together and forever. And we don’t even need an orchestra.
So what was it about Paul that made him, “A man among men”. Why did I cherish the day to day two step we did? Why did he have such an impact on everyone who knew him? Why did his employees remark that he was the best boss they ever had? What was it about him that his children believed him to be incomparable?
Everyone has their own opinion on why he was so respected and loved. My own, having been with him for 51 years, is that it was because he was so compassionate. He rarely became angry, embodying the Chinese proverb, “The foolish man gets angry, the wise man understands.” Paul understood and accepted everyone for exactly who they were, warts and all. God knows I made more then my share of mistakes, particularly raising 10 children. I would over-discipline, dinner would be late, I backed into a light pole, forgot to write checks down in the check book, once I called Paul from a lecture I was doing in Atlanta and he answered from a Jewell concert. I had purchased tickets and forgotten about it. He went by himself. No matter what I did, he was never critical. He never said an angry word at what I had done or left undone. Never. I think that was his greatest gift to the children and me. He never became angry with them for blown out bike tires or destroyed bikes. He just quietly spent every Saturday fixing them. Rebecca wrecked a car and he never said a critical word. He knew that I knew and I knew that he knew that what I had done was not exactly praise worthy. Yet, he never said a word. He knew that I suffered over my mistakes enough that he did not have to add to my despondency by rubbing it in with his own words of recrimination. Anyone with a tongue can let it flap away, saying all sorts of unkind, critical words of judgment. But to have the strength of character to take control of your tongue regardless of what negativity you are thinking…..Now that is something. I loved him for that!!!!!! What a way for all of us, all of us here today, to love each other by following the advice of my mother, advice Paul lived out every day, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”
So now this constant presence of love in my life is gone. Garth Brooks sang, “And now, I’m glad I didn’t know how it all would end, how it all would go. Its best our lives are left to chance, I would have missed the pain but I would have missed the dance.”
Dance with your loved ones and if they step on your toes keep your mouth shut and be glad they are dancing with you at all!
That is our living legacy to Paul, to dance the dance of love with each other through good times and bad. Keeping harsh and critical words to ourselves. Uplifting everyone we know with words of encouragement and compassion.
Do I miss Paul? With every breath.
“When I need you, I just close my eyes and I’m with you.
And all that I so want to give you, is only a heartbeat away.”
However, the reality is that Paul is not here except in our memories so we are celebrating what we have and what Paul gave us in two ways. One, we are creating a labyrinth, meditation garden in his name. Any gifts you want to put in the basket at the back of the church will be welcome. Two, we are sharing a meal of love and friendship in the fellowship hall. If you have to leave we understand, but hope you will join us. Just go into the fellowship hall, pour yourself a glass of wine (or lemonade) and as soon as we are gathered we will toast Paul’s life. There will be time for people to go to the microphone and share memories while a slideshow of Paul’s life plays.
Paul is gone, leaving wonderful memories. However, Joy is found in our blessings, not our misfortunes, what we have, not what we don’t have. Paul’s death is a huge loss that will ache for years, however…… I have more in my life then I have lost. Truly, I have more then I have lost. We all do. I have my children, my grandchildren, my mother, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, my friends, all of you! And we have each other and the mandate every day that Paul lived and breathed to “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
“When I need love, I hold out my hands and I touch love.
Never knew there was so much love, keeping me warm night and day.”
It is Christmas, the time when the world rededicates itself to unconditional love.
“All great love affairs must end in tragedy”. I am still listening for the garage door to open.
While I am recognizing everyone’s heartfelt support of me and our family I cannot finish without specifically thanking Jonathan’s family of United Airlines employees. I don’t know how I would have survived Paul’s death without the constant solicitous care of the entire crew, particularly Flight Attendant Bernardo Batista and Flight Captain Karen Pellicore. They wrapped me in loving arms for the 5 hours on board the plane while medics tried to revive Paul and legal personnel went through the ginormous legal processes. Bernardo helped me remove Paul’s wedding band and placed it on my finger. The United crew arranged for me and our luggage to be taken to a wonderful hotel with instructions to the staff to take care of me. I still bask in the blessings their words and presence conveyed to me.
Here is the link to Paul’s Memorial service:
Since the Memorial service there has been an overwhelming outpouring of grief shared and support offered. As much as I would love to thank each and every one of you for your hugs and warmth and tears and cards and letters and emails and phone calls and cups of coffee and glasses of wine and donations to the Memorial Garden …. right now I am concentrating on breathing. Please accept this as a profound acceptance and grateful appreciation of your collective generosity to me and our family.
Those still wishing to donate to the Memorial Garden at LOTM may do so by sending your donation to:
Lord of the Mountains
PO Box 1059
Dillon CO 80435