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September 1, 2019 Click here to mail this page to a friend.
Ignoring Clint Eastwood's advice in "Dirty Harry" that opinions, like certain body parts, are best kept to yourself.
Hazel Marie Howes (1943 -2019)

My wife of 53 years passed away at the family lake cabin in Minnesota, surrounded by our nine children, at sunrise on Sunday, August 25, 2019 after struggling with cancer for several months.

The obituary is in the newspapers, and can be seen on our travel blog here. Hazel and I traveled in our motorhome on a regular basis for the past 10 years, logging over 100,000 miles, it was a great experience. When she was diagnosed with cancer this past Spring, all plans for travel were put away, we moved into the family lake cabin, making those 40 mile one-way trips to see the doctors. Tests and more tests, radiation treatments, a trip to the Mayo Clinic, where three doctors told us thyroid cancer was normally slow-moving, but this one was especially aggressive.

When a CAT-Scan revealed a new mass that wasn't seen in the one taken just a month earlier, Hazel was hospitalized and radiation treatments were to begin again. It was at that point that common sense stepped in, with the medical team admitting they couldn't get ahead of this one, recommending Hazel be transported back to our cabin by ambulance, a hospital bed was set-up in the living room with a good view of the lake, and nurses came in to help us attempt to keep her comfortable. I asked the doctor, "how long", and received the standard answer "six months".

The call went out to our nine children, who came rushing home to be with her.

Hazel lived 6 days.

A week has passed since Hazel died, my son Tom, who came in from the Washington, D.C. area, has been spending time with me here at the cabin, keeping me company and providing great support. The funeral is Tuesday, six of my sons will serve as pallbearers, my son Jim, an operatic tenor, will sing, my daughters Sarah and Annie have been working non-stop, along with my sister-in-law Laura, to arrange the funeral, purchase the double cemetery lot (I finally know where I'll be spending eternity), and I couldn't have survived the week without them.

Today, I thought maybe I should start moving Hazel's clothing and personal possessions from the motorhome into the lake cabin, so that the family could go through them, decide what they would like to keep, and what they felt should be donated to the Salvation Army and Goodwill. It took me all afternoon, almost all of what she'd accumulated in life was in that 30 foot class A motorhome, packed in the closets, under the bed in containers, and I'd even added an additional clothes rack back in the bedroom, an area we always called "the captain's quarters".

Going through Hazel's bedside stand, I found a small notebook. Most of the pages were blank, except for this, written in Hazel's handwriting:

Hello Little One,

You've been with me about 2 weeks now, I'm so glad you're here. I'm going to do my best to grow a wonderful body for your wonderful spirit to live in for a lifetime. I'm your mother and I welcome you and will do my best to love and protect you in your smallness.

Sometimes I'm probably going to be grumpy, and I hope it's not often, I'm sorry about those times. I'm going to enjoy your time with me. It's good to have you so close and always here when I do the dishes or sweep the floors, or go for a walk or read, or snuggle up for the night, you're always here warm and safe with me.

I told your daddy about you, he's excited that a new little person will be coming to live with us.

With emotions running high, my first thought is this something that should be read at the funeral on Tuesday, but I immediately realized there was no way I could get through it, I'd be a mess by the second sentence.

There was no date on the page, the notebook cover was missing, and I had no idea which of my children Hazel was talking to.

Perhaps she was talking to all of them.

Global Air Aviation Referral Service

I welcome responses, and will be glad to post them here. Email your remarks to
This article was picked-up by the website, seen by hundreds or even thousands of readers, many of whom left encouraging comments.
What a beautiful thing to share with your family and friends. I’m so sorry for the passing of your beloved wife. I only knew her a short time, but felt such a connection with her, you and Sarah. I’m not a “total” stranger, but if you want to me read something on your behalf, I would be honored. I’m sure there are many that would like to share your and Hazel’s loving words. I understand your basket case status. Please continue to reach out, as you are so famous for. I am working the booth at the fair today, and will be thinking and praying for you and your family. Patty - St. Crox Hospice.
From someone who is not very close with the whole family as yet, but would like to be, thank you for the manner in which you have chosen to celebrate Hazel’s amazing life and legacy, Ron. The discovery of this handwritten account of Hazel’s most intimate feelings towards the impending birth of one of your children…and most likely equally applicable to all of them, is really the cherry to cap off the numerous and astoundingly eloquent accounts of Hazel’s life that you and Tom and your children have been compiling since her untimely death on August 25th. Hazel was already larger than life…and your shared memories and many attempts to capture her wonderful essence and the impact that she had and continues to have on all of your lives, is a wonderful testament to a life well lived. Kevin - Orlando, Florida
I just want you to know I am up praying for you and your family. My heart aches for all of you. Have been thinking for several days now how Hazel is with your precious baby Michael giving him hugs. Hazels notes made me feel I should share. I can only imagine how painful this is for you. Will continue praying for all of you. Gerry - Mitchell, SD
Ron, very beautiful indeed. I think it was to all of the children. Vicki - Ashville, NC
Powerful thoughts. Dave - Mohave, Arizona
I feel honored just to have been with Hazel on one of her last days. It is one of the most beautiful expressions I've read of a mother's love. It exposes Hazel's heart. Jeanette - Avon, Minnesota
I liked the comment on the website from the person who said that letter will make him try to be a better person for the rest of his life. There were many kind comments. The best of the internet showed up it seems. - My Son Tom
It seems like something that a first time mother would write so I’m guessing that it’s from late 1966 for Glenn. - My Son Joe
To know her was to love her, she made everyone feel so special!! I'm finding it very difficult andI can just imagine how bad it is for you and the children. I so wish I could have been with you yesterday. No doubt She had a great send off. I would love to call you would you please email me your telephone number. God bless you all you are certainly in my thoughts and prayers. - Hazel's 93 year old aunt Fidelia in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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