Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Remembering Hugh

Today I attended the funeral of a friend whose painful short journey with cancer has shown so much courage and faith. Dr. Hugh Dawson was a friend who first came into my Cambridge church in the mid-80's, playing in the music group and making ready friendships.  As a new family doctor in the city he modeled the best kind of medical care, gaining a well-deserved reputation as a learned, gentle, careful, supportive doctor whose patients found him a true friend.  In his singleness he allowed caring to fill up most of his life (perhaps too much!)  After visiting our elderly neighbor he would come in for tea and share advice about how we could help as though she was his only patient.
Marrying later with two delightful children his medical practice blossomed as did his life as husband and father.  In 2013 when we returned to live in Cambridge we wanted him to be our doctor too.  And he proved to be the very best. We enjoyed some wonderful friendship that first year.  But it was cut too short.
The service today was so full many had to stand at the back. The service had been planned by him with his favourite hymns and prayers. I found it deeply moving.  So many things - let me share a couple:
  • How he coped with rampant disease.  He was only 63 when he died. Told two years ago that he had between two and ten years of life left,  it turned out to be the tragic minimum.  How he must have hoped for so much longer to see his children through college and into the future.  Yet, in the speedy decline he showed no feelings of bitterness, fear or anger at the unfairness of his suffering when he had given so much to help others win good health.  I find that extraordinary and it was explained by.....
  • How faith shone through with radiance.  Carol and I saw this when we visited him in the hospice a few days before he died.  He loved the psalms. 'Can I read you one?' I asked.' Do you have a special one?' He feebly reached for his worn copy of the New Testament and Psalms. Slipping in and out of consciousness we read Psalm 16 and prayed.  And, in spite of his upsetting weakness and pain his faith in Jesus shone through.  It did!
  • How uplifting were his service choices.  His hymns: In Christ alone my hope is found; I, the Lord of sea and sky; Before the throne of God above; Be thou my vision.  His Christian conviction was also sounded out by one of his closest friends who shared Hugh's faith story. 
I couldn't help but think about how members of that large congregation of several hundred were responding to such a brave faith-filled life.  What an example dear Hugh sets.  We continue to pray for his family and friends.


Don B said...

We all have to face death no one gets a free pass. It's only those of us who trust in our Lord Jesus know where we will be once we leave this earth. We will spend eternity with our Lord!

Stephen Newman said...

Hugh Dawson was my doctor at Lensfield Road. Strangely, he in fact discovered my prostate cancer in 2010. I was terribly saddened to see that he had died. A quiet gentle and nicer man you could not find. He was selfless, which probably made him unaware of himself, because he was so devoted to his patients.