Friday, May 28, 2010

I can only hope I can raise my daughter this well

On the morning of August 16, 2005, as my wife Retta and I sat with Wes and Abbey just after breaking the news to them of Mikes death earler that morning, then 13 year old Abbey buried her head into my shoulder, sobbing these words: "he was supposed to chase away my first boyfriend, he was supposed to cheer at my graduation from high school, he was supposed to be an uncle to my children..." These words seared my heart, broken as it was. I shall never forget them. She lost her oldest brother that day, her "Bubs" which she called him short for his nickname, Bubba.

Go RTWT.  I'll wait.

I never knew Mike, but I know of him.  I know the man that his father is, and have been constantly awed and humbled by his strength, dignity, and honor.  It brilliantly shines through every time I see Robert--in his easy smile, his warm embrace, and most importantly, the way he honors his son's sacrifice.  That Stokely stock is sterner stuff than I've found in many people, including myself.  He is a man who has let go of the hate that is rightfully his, who endures the unendurable, and who had done so with tremendous love and dignity.

I am so happy to hear that Robert's daughter, Abbey, graduated (valedictorian, naturally, what else would you expect from a family like this?) from high school.  What I didn't know was the hardships and sacrifices she's made to get there.  I know Robert's chest is measurably wider today, and rightly so.  I can only hope to raise my children so well, or to become half the father he is.

Robert, My deepest admiration and respect for you and yours, and today, for Abbey, too.


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