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The Suburbanite
  • King's View: Heroes don’t have to touch a lot of people, just touch them deeply

  • Last week, in this space, you read about the passing of Ethel Stokes, the longtime Manchester kindergarten teacher who nurtured the souls of two generations of students — more than 2,400 — in a 30-year career. Everybody in the community knew her, and loved her. She was a hero, to be sure.



    But there are all kinds of heroes.

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  • Last week, in this space, you read about the passing of Ethel Stokes, the longtime Manchester kindergarten teacher who nurtured the souls of two generations of students — more than 2,400 — in a 30-year career.
    Everybody in the community knew her, and loved her.
    She was a hero, to be sure.
    But there are all kinds of heroes.
    Some aren’t so well known — so public.
    Some aren’t public at all, nor do they want to be. It’s just not them. Indeed, for every public hero, there are hundreds, even thousands, of private ones.
    They choose to stay behind the scenes — well behind the scenes — and perform their wonders. You have to look hard — dig deep — to find them, or even know of them.
    But in no way, shape or form does their anonymity lessen their importance, their impact or even their persona. Rather, to those who know them, and love them, their stars are as big and bright — as heroic — as those of anyone, even the very public people.
    So when they leave us, the holes in our lives and our community are still there, still sizable, still make our hearts ache, still cause our souls to weep. We think of them with nothing but respect and warm thoughts, for that is what they truly deserve.
    That’s the way it was – really, the way it is — with the recent passing of Elizabeth “Betty” Haser, 74, a longtime resident of Coventry Township.
    If her last name sounds a little or a lot familiar, especially to those who also have been around the area for a long time, then it’s because of her husband of 52 years, and/or her daughter, their only child.
    As much as Betty was private, her husband and her daughter were — and are — very public around here. They don’t need name tags. Everybody knows who they are, and who they were.
    Rudy Haser, always wearing the same “golf” hat that Bill Murray donned in “Caddyshack,” played on Coventry High School’s last boys basketball team to win a league championship, in the Metro League way back in 1958. A basketball genius, he has forgotten more about the sport in the last 10 minutes than most of the so-called “experts” will know in 10 lifetimes. He has served as the volunteer shot doctor, or shooting coach, for several local high school teams, including the Green girls when both Bob Dickerson and Lynn Wess were coaching the Bulldogs.
    Daughter Penny Haser played for the Comets in the late 1970s, when high school girls basketball was still in its infancy. A point guard, she could handle and shoot the ball better than anyone then, and better than just about everyone now. She was the “Pistol” Pete Maravich of her time, with her ability to dribble between her legs while on the dead run, and pass the ball behind her back with pinpoint accuracy. It’s why she ended up playing at the University of Akron.
    Page 2 of 2 - The greatest girls basketball player in Coventry history, and one of the best ever to come out of The Suburbanite coverage area? Yup.
    Betty was the one-woman support staff for both her husband and daughter, quietly and without any complaining doing all the grunt work that an all-league basketball wife and mom does. In fact, she did that work with great pride. She understood how important, how necessary, it was to free up Rudy and Penny so they could do “their basketball stuff,” as she might have put it.
    And, more importantly, Rudy and Penny understood — fully — just how important Betty’s role was.
    As mentioned, there are a lot of heroes out there like Betty Haser. They are our moms, our wives, our grandmothers, our aunts, whoever, who put themselves last so that their families can come first, not because they have to, but because they want to — very much so. Their families are what matter — always. In many ways, they’re the only things that matter.
    And the best — or, more specifically, the most incredible and unbelievable — thing is that they ask absolutely nothing in compensation for all their work other than the opportunity to do it, and keep doing it. As much as the recipients of their efforts appreciate it , they appreciate doing it. They thrive on it. It’s what makes them get up in the morning and their feet hit the floor running.
    It is their purpose — their joy — and they love it as much as they love life itself.
    They are the reason that people say that behind every good man is a good woman, and also that behind every good, achieving, fulfilled, happy, loving and emotionally balanced child is a good woman as well.
    Everybody who has a good woman — a Betty Haser — behind them knows that they have it easy. All they have to do is do what they do — do what they want to do, what they love to do, what causes a fire to burn in their belly when they do it — because there is a rock of a woman standing there, out of the way, ready at a second’s notice to catch them if they fall.
    Those who have chosen to be out there — to be public — owe their lives and their success to the Betty Hasers of the world. They know that as the Betty Hasers go, so, too, will they go.
    And when someday those rocks — those foundations — are gone and our great ride and the time of our life is over, it’s both a seminal and sobering moment for us.
    All we have left — all we can do — is to hold onto our memories of those forever heroes, gripping them as tightly and lovingly as they did us.