My darling man,

On this day, 51 years ago, you were born. You were LATE and made your sweet mama miserable with the heaviness and the waiting, but then you were here and in her arms and all was well. And you cried and wailed and carried on, until your grandpa went and bought your mom a rocker to try to soothe your sweet self and get you to pipe down.

You grew into an adorable little boy with giant blue eyes and sweet curls on top of your head, but there was a twinkle of mischief in your eye and you were always up for a challenge. “Sure you can discipline me!” you would say; “You’ve just got to catch me first!” And off you would run. I believe it was about this time that your mama started to notice gray hairs streaking through her black locks.

In class, you didn’t want to let others hold your tiny little turtle at show and tell, so you put him in your mouth. On campus, you visited the principal’s office more than one or ten times for various slug-fests. Some might have misconstrued all this as a bully in the making, but they didn’t know why you were doing it. You did it because you were a fierce protector of those smaller than you, the vulnerable, the under-dog. If someone was being picked on, you’d step in and deliver a lights-out punch because you had no tolerance for that type of behavior. You still don’t, though you have figured out how to handle it without bloodying your knuckles.

As you grew, so did your athletic ability. You were an especially challenging competitor on the mats, achieving the rank of Texas State Wrestling Champ four years running. You excelled in track and football, and were known around town as the “barefoot kicker.” You were popular on campus, with your big ol’ afro and those incredible eyes. And cute. Really cute.

Yes, this is where I come in. Not as your girlfriend, but just a friend, in Mr. Moore’s 10th grade history class at Vines High School. We used to watch the cars out the window, playing a counting game to determine which was “ours.” (It was an unfortunate and very accurate coincidence that “bore” rhymed with “Moore.”) I had a crush on you from that point on, a secret crush that I kept quiet, as I dated others and you did, too. Frankly, you were a little wild back then, and I was a little NOT, and it didn’t seem a right fit, until I saw you at Collin Creek Mall during our first Thanksgiving break from college. After seeing each other again, that night, at a bigger class get-together at Dalt’s, you asked me out on our first date. I went because you seemed a little different somehow. I went because it seemed there was a possibility there for us that hadn’t been there before.

I was right.

A few months after that, your daddy died. I saw how you handled your grief and your family and the arrangements and, at 19, the man in you pushed up through the boy, taking over and giving me a glimpse into your future. It was the maturing of the fierce protector, and my first real understanding that this was a man with whom I could walk through hard things.

Then, just three months later, on Father’s Day, you brought me to your dad’s graveside to propose. You wanted to include him since he died before he really got to know about me. That day the protector exposed his tender heart in a new way, and I knew then that we were indeed meant to journey forward together.

I sit now, thirty-one years later, and think about all that went into the making of you. I think about all the stages of a growing you and how they have shaped you into who you are today. You are my man who can lead this family with quick and confident decisions, who never shies away from a challenge, who takes risks and fights hard for those who are labeled as “different, ” who is still a fierce protector of those he loves, and who shows his tender heart to me all the time. I think about what my life would be like if you hadn’t been born, and discover that I don’t want to know.

I’m just incredibly thankful that you were.


“My beloved is mine and I am his…” Song of Solomon 2:16 NIV