By Dale Buchanan
Hank has sat in a pew directly in front of us every Sunday for about three years. Last Tuesday evening Hank sat in Gayle’s living room to be interviewed. Gayle served lemonade and cookies. We engaged in pleasant small talk. Then I asked, “Where were you born and what is your heritage?”
“I was born in Boston and lived there until I was eighteen years old and left for college. My dad’s father was born in Italy and his mother was born in this country a child of Italian immigrants. My mother was born in this country the offspring of Scotch-Irish immigrants. My family is a perfect example of the American ‘melting pot.’
To understand my story let me tell you about my sister Pam. Two years older than me, she lives in Portland, Oregon. Born with a genetic bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (O. I.) also known as Brittle Bone disease, she broke her leg for the first time when she was three. More broken bones, surgeries, and hospital stays followed. The Delcore household revolved around my sister’s illness with doctor appointments, braces, and wheelchairs. Was I neglected? This might happen in some cases, but it was never true with me. These difficult times brought us closer. We were family and still are!
I believe that this story explains my folks and the way we interacted as a family. Dad was always there and found time to take me to baseball and hockey games. Mom was an expert homemaker and a good cook. In short, she was a traditional wife and mother. On their 50th wedding anniversary, Andrea and I hosted a surprise party for the folks. My toast to Dad was, ‘You worked hard to provide for your family and were always there for us’ and to Mom, ‘You taught me unconditional love.’
Growing up with my sister was not all operations, braces, and wheelchairs. At the holidays we children performed variety shows which resulted in lots of fun for everyone.
Pam was a rabid Red Sox fan. I recently found a box containing all of her Red Sox memorabilia. That brought back a fond memory. The Rex Sox and Yankees had finished the season tied, and in a one game playoff the hated Yankees had won. My sister in her Red Sox tee shirt and Red Sox hat was heart-broken and bawling like a baby!
My favorite teacher was in middle school. He taught me to inquire and he listened. High school was an all-boys Catholic school taught by Christian brothers. I went to Georgetown University where I received by B.A. degree. From there it was to the University of Wisconsin where I earned a doctorate in cultural anthropology in 2000 and came directly to a teaching position at Fresno State University. Today, no longer mistaken on campus for a student, I find that even with the passing of almost twenty years, I am still excited to be learning, understanding, and keeping up with changes in my field.
At a gathering of students and faculty, Lisa a former student brought Andrea and I asked, ‘Who is that beautiful woman?’ We didn’t speak to each other, but with Lisa’s encouragement, Andrea ‘poked’ me on Facebook. I poked her back. Finally, I asked her for a date and the rest is history.
How do I describe my wife Andrea? I guess the best way is to tell a story. We have been married ten years now, and on a recent trip to a conference in Portland, I found tucked into my luggage a sweet note expressing her love. That describes Andrea perfectly.
Our two sons are Henry nine years old and Sam eight years old. They have blessed our lives. They came to us as infants—Henry twenty months old and Sam just four months old. Raising my sons is challenging and often stressful. Along with the worry there are signs of growth and maturing. We read as a family every night. Currently we are reading The Chronicles of Narnia. In a recent reading one of the characters remarked about a person whom he thought was a friend only to find out it wasn’t true. Henry said, ‘Dad, that happened to me at school.’
The boys and I bounce on the trampoline that I assembled in the back yard for Christmas two years ago. We do jigsaw puzzles and a host of family activities. When the kids are down at 8 p.m., I like to read and watch soccer and hockey games on TV. Andrea and I often relax with a favorite TV series.
Raised Roman Catholic, I went to mass every Sunday and took all the sacraments. When I went to college, I stopped. Going through a rough patch later in my life, I met a Protestant minister who was on the same wave length with me. He explained the story of Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazarus saying, ‘Your grief is real, Hank. God is sad when you are sad’ and that made sense to me.
After a long search, we came to Big Red, loved that it was traditional and it felt like church. We went to fellowship time where we met Ruth Gadebusch. This sincere, open, and affirming Christian woman was the catalyst that settled my doubts. We had found a church home.”