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Tribute to P. Nathaniel Hardy
Hardy Healthcare, PLLC
One Phoenix Mill Lane, Suite 101
Peterborough, NH 03458
Telephone: 603-784-5266
26x26 Tribute to P. Nathaniel Hardy

Paul Nathaniel Hardy (1975-1998)

Hardy Healthcare PLLC is dedicated to the memory of my second son who had much to teach all who knew him about life, death, and spirit. "Than" became his nickname when his older brother, Seth, could not pronounce, "Nathaniel" and could only say the core of his name. In retrospect this was to become eerily prophetic.

Than was unique from his second trimester of life with excessive energy and movement. We now understand that he "marched to a different drummer." As an infant he was difficult to satisfy and as a toddler he was constantly on the go, had difficulty understanding the word 'NO' and could be riotously funny. By kindergarten he started saying and writing (on his bedroom wall) phrases that left his family wondering from where these ideas had come. Friends began to say, "He is like a little old man." Some even began to refer to him as an "old soul." In 1980 at the age of 5, while in kindergarten, he was diagnosed with a learning disorder, ADHD. Formal testing revealed a gifted IQ. Than had a strong will that matched his IQ, a challenge for both his parents and his teachers. He suffered fools poorly, which made formal education difficult for him, yet he was extremely empathetic.

Girls from a very young age loved him and paid tearful fond tribute to him at his memorial service. Hearts carved with Than's initials and those of girls mature and expand annually in trunks and limbs of sundry trees, or age in the hay loft beams of old barns in both North and South America as the years go by since his passing.

From an academic standpoint, Than barely squeaked through high school. He rode to his high school graduation on a 10 year-old two-cylinder motorcycle that he had refurbished, about the worst thing the son of a neurologist could do. Four weeks later he rode it solo all the way to Rosebud, South Dakota to spend a second summer with Lakota men who ran a summer camp for the tribal children in a valley on the banks of the Little White River. Lakota humor and Than's were one. That summer the "learning disordered" young man from upper middle-class Hingham became the carrier of a sacred pipe. He was now wise in spirit beyond any of his peers and parents.

The world, rather than college, was to be his classroom. Books, poetry, cinema, all genres of music, and travel were his texts; people were his teachers, and he in turn, became their teacher. Noah Whitelance, his mentor at Rosebud, was to later say after Than's death, that Than taught him TRUST; he learned to trust a white man for the first time and even invited him into his home. Noah scattered Than's ashes given to him under the scrub oaks next to the Little White River where they used to talk and smoke late at night while watching over the children.

During his middle school years, Than started keeping a journal into which he wrote phrases, isolated lines of poetry, and short stories. Every moment of his life was an opportunity to learn and reflect. During the winter of 1995 he traveled through South America, using the home of a lovely high school AFS friend from San Paulo as his base. He wrote home about his “Clint Eastwood experiences from hell;” being held up by men with machine guns on at least two occasions. He climbed to Machu Pichu and spent the night illegally in the ruins in order to experience it during a full moon and write about it. This photograph (top right), one of my favorites of him, captures his happiness, impishness, and his love of adventure and of nature.

In September 1996 he entered the University of Montana in Missoula, known for its outstanding creative writing department. Montana with its freedoms, open spaces, and fly fishing would allow him to live the life of a Hemingway. He reveled in it. To support himself as much as possible, he took a part time job as a tow truck driver. His experiences were fodder for his writing. I gave him my first lap top computer when it became outdated. We started to e-mail lines of prose or poetry to each other and he awakened in me a latent interest in writing that had been smothered by my dominant and presumed more important scientific and medical pursuits. On March 17, 1998, Than died instantly while driving a tow truck in a blinding snow and sleet storm on I-90 east of Missoula trying to find a car that had slid off the highway. An eighteen-wheeler had stalled on an upgrade. He apparently never saw it.

During my last telephone conversation with him the Saturday morning before his death, we each spoke about having just heard on the radio Eric Clapton's new song, My Father's Eyes. He said, “Yah Dad, my eyes welled up with tears when I first heard it.” I knew that the son who once told me in a peak of anger to “stop trying to be my doctor, and be my father” did indeed appreciate what I had tried to do as a parent raising a truly unique and gifted individual marching to a different drum. Therefore, Hardy Healthcare PLLC is dedicated to his memory for he taught us so much about the true nature of attention, energy (life force), creativity, and spirit. In his physical absence, I suspect his spirit continues to guide me.


Paul N. Hardy

Paul N. Hardy