7/11/1972 – 7/21/2023
Cosmic Dust: an Obituary / Mythology / Mythbituary of Thaddeus Haverkamp
written by Maggie Allen
Until 1972, not much had happened in the town of Alliance, Nebraska -at least not from an intergalactic perspective. However, on July 11 of that year, an object from a distant galaxy, a small, wayward star, crash-landed in Alliance. As the celestial object made contact with Earth, it formed a bond and transformed into a shape nearly identical to a human child. It was such a small star at the time, the occurrence went mostly unnoticed by the residents of Nebraska. Most of them were distracted by corn or college football, but an uncommon few could sense that something had changed. Years later, a Nebraska mystic, sensing an unusual, kitschy energy emanating from the site of impact, built a monument there he would call Carhenge.
The only witnesses to this cosmic event were a few sandhill cranes who were not terribly concerned with migrating in a timely fashion. With no storks to be found, the cranes took it upon themselves to deliver the child to a suitable human parent. By an astonishing stroke of luck, they found a young woman called Phyllis Vallejo who was kind, loving, and bright. The cranes agreed she would make an excellent mother, and Phyllis agreed that she should keep the baby. She gave him the name “Thaddeus” meaning “gift from the heavens” -acknowledging his origin. She gave him the second name “Alexander” meaning “defender” -acknowledging his destiny. She would call him “Thad” after realizing she probably wouldn’t have time for all of those syllables.
Enlightened, witty, and gifted, Phyllis passed on her love of the arts to Thad. They shared an appreciation of theater, film, music, and books. She also taught him a profound sense of empathy, compassion, and unconditional love. But Phyllis knew, with a child as extraordinary as her Thad, if he were to achieve his full potential, she would need to show him the world. They set out on a pilgrimage to explore the rest of the planet. Despite their best intentions, they only made it as far as 200 miles away, when they reached Kearney, Nebraska. For it was in Kearney that Phyllis found Jeff, a young man who she believed would make a worthy father for her exceptional son. She was not wrong. Jeff instilled in Thad a sense of honor and responsibility, as well as a robust, if not somewhat irritating, sense of humor. And it was Jeff who would give Thaddeus Alexander the syllabically adequate surname of “Haverkamp” -a name which means “oat farm”.
Now they had found Jeff, it only made sense to settle in Kearney. Phyllis, Jeff, Thad, his brother Reed, and, finally, his brother Jamie, would make up the Haverkamp Dynasty: the most powerful family in the colossal history of majestic Kearney, Nebraska.
While in Kearney, Thad received his formal, human education, in the local earthling high school and college. As a “Loper” at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Thad majored in English, a language he would eventually become more than fluent in. But Thad’s most remarkable accomplishment during his formative years in Nebraska was his ability to make friends and then, somehow, keep them forever. Thad never seemed to understand the ordinary human trait of shedding friends as one goes through life. If Thad made a friend, they were his friend forever (for better or worse); as long as that person wanted to be Thad’s friend, Thad would keep them. And they always and forever wanted to be Thad’s friend.
Thad was doing fine in his “hometown,” but he could feel the star matter at the core of him expanding, and the gravitational pressure of a small town can be severe. Not to mention, there is a law in Kearney, Nebraska that once a resident reaches the age of 25, they must choose between moving to Fort Collins, CO or to Lawrence, KS. Like the sandhill cranes, it was time for Thad to migrate.
One of Thad’s dearest friends, an irreverent artist, ne’er-do-well, and devilish rogue called Jess, had already made his home in Lawrence, KS; so, Thad thought he’d roll the dice and give the city of Lawrence a try.
After his departure, the town of Kearney erected the Great Platte River Archway Monument in Thad’s honor. It would be a bridge straddling Interstate 80, connecting one part of the prairie to another part of the same prairie, creating a symbolic bridge between Thad and his hometown, but ultimately demonstrating that they don’t understand how bridges work.
What happened next is a topic of much heated debate and speculation in paranormal research. It is well documented that powerful ley lines reach from Lawrence, KS to Alliance, NE. Did these ley lines exist before Thad arrived in Kansas? Are they the reason he chose this path? Or, as the wisest oracles suspect, did the ley lines rewrite themselves after Thad moved to Kansas? One thing is certain, it was Thad’s arrival in Lawrence that switched his cosmic, friend-making superpowers into full gear. In literally every space Thad occupied he made friends. Not only that, but the mere presence of Thad made other people become friends with each other.
It was also during his time in Lawrence that Thad honed his abilities as a shapeshifter. Thad could take on different forms to help the citizens of Lawrence in their time of need. Sometimes he would make them a pizza; other times he would make them a drink and listen to them talk. Sometimes he would help them find their way out of the bar and face first onto the sidewalk. He also did such noble work as helping people find the perfect toy, helping them find just the right movie, and gently explaining Brexit related Marmite shortages. At other times, he was a private detective, a gambler, a warlock, a cat burglar, a taco tycoon, a druid, a Cuban bandleader, a professor of hovercraft technology, a sheriff, and a kung-fu roadhouse bouncer (though some of those occupations were only in his head). He was, undeniably, a first-rate storyteller; and along with his friend Racheal, they would gather and share the stories of the people and places in their beloved community. Perhaps his most astonishing power was his ability to share his own story through his incomparable poetry.
The more people Thad collected through life, the more the star at the core of his being grew; and it wasn’t always possible for him to maintain stability in this realm. The more love he took on, the more loss he suffered. He needed support -dynamic, vigorous support. It would have to be someone who recognized Thad’s power and could match it. It would have to be someone who could see his fate and still be brave enough to take him on. Fortunately for us all, the no-nonsense goddess and all-around badass, Danielle Sullivan, found Thad. She immediately recognized him for what he is, looked into his eyes, saw the beginning, saw the end, saw every hurdle along the way, and said “yep, let’s do this.” Together they would weather some of the bleakest events of Thad’s life, but also some of the most splendid moments. They would embark on countless adventures, traveling the globe, and sharing with the world the warmth and light they generated together.
It was with Danielle that Thad was finally able to achieve his highest and purest form: defender of the marginalized, oppressed, and misunderstood. Thad would serve as a guide to those whose minds had betrayed them. As he had so often walked those shadowy paths himself, there was no one better or truer to hold their hands and help them through the wilderness.
As a result of his time with Danielle, Thad was able to grace our realm much longer than he might have; and his light was able to reach many more people because of her. Alas, the gravity of this planet eventually proves to be too much for some. It can shatter bones and crush well-worn organs. It can overburden the mind and spirit. Thad’s human body had dealt with quite a bit. It’s an awful lot of work carrying around a variable hypergiant star inside a 5’4” frame after 51 years. On July 21, 2023, Thad’s earthly form delivered him back into the cosmos.
Much like the light of a dying star can be seen for millions of years after it is gone, the radiant brilliance of Thad Haverkamp will shine forever. His marvelous light has been experienced by thousands, and his warmth, his flair, his blazing energy will keep our hearts aglow when we remember him; and we will share the warmth of his love when we share his words and his stories with others.
Waiting to greet Thad at the end of his glorious expedition was his brother, Reed Haverkamp; his grandfather, Rito Vallejo; his grandmother, Mary Lou Haverkamp; far too many friends; and a cat called Agnes.
Still coping with the gravity of this planet is Thad’s partner, Danielle Sullivan; his brother, Jamie Haverkamp; his parents, Phyllis and Jeff Haverkamp; his grandmother Donna Vallejo; his grandfather, Philip Haverkamp; his nephew, Max Haverkamp; Mr. Liam, and thousands of admirers, copycats, fans, friends, mooks and other family (both real and imagined).
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