Robert Harlin Beasley Whether the glass was half full or half empty, Harlin drank it anyway during the 86 years he roamed the planet-up and down. A less-than-secure childhood punctuated by a split in the nuclear family that took him from Oklahoma City to Hydro at the age of nine and took his father away, created a life-long struggle with depression. He was a bright kid and despite being a city slicker, he got along with the farm boys of Hydro and was a pretty good Judge of livestock. His real passion was music, the clarinet and sax, and placing them in his western-swing band at dances in the southwest, at one of which, he met a certain Helen Swanda of the famed Swanda girls of Carnegie. Another passion was alcohol, the muse that almost works. Booze and a band, what could be better? Certainly not the Navy where he re-injured a bad sports-leg. However, hospital mail call produced a letter from that college girl, Helen. They wed September 24, 1944 and would celebrate anniversaries at the Great State Fair. Harlin was ill prepared for the exponentials of family rearing as Bobby and Susan showed up. He tried his best at being the provider, but it was Helen who put food on the family. He had some great titles: assistant office manager with a company Studebaker, Tin Man, Edsel salesman, inventor of a time-locked cigarette case and a Harry Chapin taxi driver. But the preoccupation of depression prevented any steady occupation. He had, however, dueled with the devil and even spent six months at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation trading research on his cardiovascular system for psychotherapy. Helen remained steadfast; maybe even clairvoyant, despite the alcohol comas. But Bobby and Susan were deeply puzzled, so they took to the books and studied the mind and the brain, psychiatry and neurology. Harlin was at last able to get the genie and throw away the bottle. And, aided by the wise wind of Dr. Kemler, sailed into contentment, taking his place with Helen as the goofy grandparents we all hope to be. Helen's early death and his stroke gave him the final battle. Perhaps the measure of a man's soul is taken silently in those hours, days, months and years, waiting inevitably, for someone to write his obituary. We will cherish the memories, even the scary ones, so in !ieu of flowers, buy another round.
Published in Oklahoman on Sep. 9, 2007.