By Anna Glass with Randy Hay
Randy Hay and Anna Glass grew up together. Well, not exactly. Randy was born in Walnut Creek, California and when he was two years old Anna Glass was living just a few miles away in San Ramon, where she was in fourth grade. Anna’s family then moved to the east coast and she didn’t actually meet Randy until fifty-one years later when she first visited Joy of All Who Sorrow. It reminds us of an old saying, “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.
Back to Randy – he spent his first 18 years in Walnut Creek, located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. While in high school he studied piano and was on the track team.
Conservative Randy ended up attending one of the country’s most liberal educational institutions, the University of California at Berkeley. He says he felt like a rock in a blender there, but he persevered and earned a BA in English. It was at Berkeley that Randy discovered P.G. Wodehouse, an English author and the most widely known humorist of the 20th century. (He mentions that one of our nuns is also a devotee of Wodehouse, and there is said to be a monk on Mt. Athos with a shelf full of his novels.)
After college Randy moved to Louisiana and lived with his grandmother, where he worked as a substitute teacher in a private school of grades K-12. Among other subjects he taught Louisiana history, which he started to learn himself “when I read the first chapter 15 minutes before the first class started.” After a semester of substituting, he taught English for a little while…but it didn’t take Randy long to realize that he wasn’t called to be a schoolteacher. So, he decided—what else?—to be a piano tuner.
Piano tuning school was in Denison, Texas – a small town 75 miles north of Dallas, mostly known for being the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. After completing the year-long course, he went back to Walnut Creek and established his own piano tuning business.
Randy claims that every Californian has to have at least three careers in a lifetime. Maybe it’s in the DNA of those born in the state. He kept moving along and decided to go to a Lutheran seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Why Ft. Wayne? Well, it was a well thought out, judicious decision: his father owned a lake house there, and is there a better place to study theology than a lake house?
Lutheranism didn’t turn out to be a good fit for Randy, but on the upside, that’s where he was introduced to church history, and “began to see the profound truth in the wisdom of the Fathers.”
Randy later joined the Continuing Anglican church, but he said there was so much infighting among traditionalist groups that he could not find a home there.
A Qualifying Test for Lori
Enter Lori Monasmith. Randy moved back to California, and he met Lori when they were working in a Christian bookstore. Five months later they were married (1990). We asked Randy what attracted him to Lori. He replied, “Her looks and personality – she was the whole package.” We asked how he feels about his choice today (29 years later) and with a gleam in his eye he said, “That was one decision I didn’t flub.”
Many men try to test a woman to see if she is the right one. How did Randy know? Being the music lover that he is, he decided that the woman for him had to share his appreciation for classical music. So, he gave her a test on the subject … which she passed.
A New Occupation
When Randy was working as a piano tuner, he began to suffer repetitive motion injuries, and was sent to see an occupational therapist. He became fascinated with the therapy, which led to his next venture – Occupational Therapy school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he graduated with an MA in Occupational Therapy. This was an answer to a concern that he had … viz., how to support a family?
The Hay couple moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, near Randy’s father. They adopted their first two girls about a year apart from each other, Tina (8 years old at the time) and Andrea (7 years old at the time). Randy was planning to bring his family into Orthodoxy about ten years down the road, but God had other plans. They found the church they had always been looking for and were chrismated at a parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1998. Randy was made a subdeacon in 2005. Since then, he says, he’s been working on where to stand and what to say at the right time. “Who knows, if I live long enough, I may get it down.”
Like many families, the Hays dealt with some difficult issues they were not prepared for. At one point they followed their godparents’ suggestion and sought advice from Father Roman Braga at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan. The elder — who had been imprisoned and tortured in Romania’s most brutal Communist prison camp — provided wisdom and guidance for them that was badly needed. Like the saints and holy elders, Fr. Roman could see into their hearts and lives and provide them with help for their deepest spiritual needs.
Meanwhile, Randy worked as an Occupational Therapist in a nursing home for a little while, then joined a home care agency. A few years after that Medicare changed their reimbursement policy, and his therapy volume plummeted precipitously; but his California genes kicked in again, and he took up a brief career teaching piano.
Eventually his OT job picked up again, and he has been working full time as a home care therapist ever since (though he thoroughly enjoyed teaching piano).
Pilgrimage Leads to Mother’s Healing
Since embracing Orthodoxy, Randy has learned the truth that “the most interesting things in life come through trials” in a first-hand way. His mother had been very sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years, accompanied by high levels of pain.
At one point her health seemed to be failing completely, and Randy went on a pilgrimage to St. Sebastian of Jackson in California. When he returned his mother she said, “I think this Chronic Fatigue has left me!” Next day he went on a pilgrimage to St. John of San Francisco, and that evening she declared “It seems like the pain is gone.”
And so, her life changed. Against all odds, she has been able to live alone for a number of years, in spite of increasing dementia and other health concerns.
After Tina and Andrea became adults, Tina was struggling and Randy and Lori adopted her two daughters, Seraphima at 2 months old in 2007 and Mary at 9 months old in 2009. An interesting aside is that Seraphima was given that name because when she was looking at the icon of St. Seraphim in the nave; her parents realized she was smiling for the first time.
The adoptions were a momentous occasion for many reasons – one being that Randy, at the age of 47, learned how to change diapers!
A Published Writer (in spite of his rules for living)
Randy adopted three rules for living in his undergraduate years. One – never write a novel (he’s written three). Two – never date a Marxist (he hasn’t). And three – well, he can’t remember what this one was.
His writing began not long after his conversion. His first novel turned out badly; however, he salvaged a chapter of it and with some editing was able to have it published as the short story “A Note From Allie” in Handmaid Magazine. His next novel, From Liz to Eternity earned 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon and is available on Amazon and in our bookstore. Number three will be released in the very near future, Paradise on the Hoof. This one is another romantic comedy…with emphasis on “comedy.” It is written in the lighthearted style of P.G. Wodehouse.
Any profits from Randy’s books go to support Hagia Sophia Classical Academy, the private Orthodox school Seraphima and Mary have been attending since kindergarten.
Although Randy’s job keeps him busy, he manages to carve out time on Sunday after lunch to teach a Bible Study based on the teaching of the early fathers, which is not surprising considering the positive influence they have had on his life. Randy also likes to spend time with his girls reading, working jigsaw puzzles, doing family prayers, sharing Bible stories, and monitoring their piano practice.
The Hay family likes to watch the old Dick Van Dyke Show together on Sunday nights. They also attend the opera and ballet when the opportunity presents itself.
Writer Anna Glass is a member of Joy of All Who Sorrow. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on Wodehouse can be found at: http://www.wodehouse.org/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._G._Wodehouse#American_exile:_1946–1975
More on Father Roman: https://www.oca.org/in-memoriam/archimandrite-roman-braga
Learn about Hagia Sophia Classical Academy: http://www.hagiasophiaclassical.com/