For Charlie….

October 26, 2008
By

I have been thinking about writing this for a number of months…
It’s time…

As I prepare to depart this country for Iraq or Afghanistan…..

I begin to think (as we all do) of the things I will miss the most…

There is the usual…

My Family…
My Friends…
My Beloved Alabama Football….
and Home….
(Sometimes not necessarily in “that” order….)

But there is one other person that needs to be mentioned here…
But first I need to tell you a little story…

Coach Gene Stallings son, John Mark Stallings who was born with Down Syndrome,  passed away in August at age 46….
It hit me hard and….

It scared me……

Because I have a John Mark Stallings in my family….

Technically he is my “Cousin in Law”…

But in reality Charlie is my little brother…

Charlie doesn’t know or understand my love of Alabama Football….

He won’t even be able to read this article…..

But it doesn’t matter….

Because you see, everything I ever really needed to know I learned from Charlie…

You can go to college and get advanced degrees and you can read all the latest self-improvement books….
But for a PhD in true wisdom take a look at the lives of John Mark and Charlie….

To the day he died John Mark Stallings wore a massive, diamond encrusted Alabama National Championship ring on his frail fingers, which were tinged a grayish blue from the lack of oxygen caused by his heart condition.

Johnny was front and center in that Alabama National Championship team photo.
In fact…
He was part of every team his father coached, including the storied Dallas Cowboys..
The players drew inspiration from him…
When Johnny turned 40 years old his Birthday Party was attended by a “Who’s Who” of Former NFL Stars…

Not many people ever heard of my Charlie…
But he is just as important and every bit as inspiring as anyone you ever met…

So what have I learned from Charlie?

Every Life Matters…..

The Lives of John Mark and Charlie teaches us all that God can use anyone…
No matter how insignificant they may appear in the eyes of society…

Charlie has none of the things that you and I take for granted…
But he has touched many lives; in ways you and I can’t imagine…

Our materialistic, success driven culture doesn’t know what to do with people like Charlie…

Society didn’t know what to do with Charlie when he was born almost 50 years ago….
But God did…

See the good in everyone…
“Be my Friend…”

When Charlie meets you…
You become his friend…and he doesn’t forget it.
Charlie literally doesn’t see evil in people..
He will have more friends in his lifetime than any of us will ever enjoy…

Be Humble……

The Bible tells us, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God…”

That describes Charlie in a nutshell….
He can’t read…
But he can pray the sweetest prayers you ever heard…

Charlie doesn’t know the finer points of theology…..
But He knows God….
And God Knows Charlie….
And everybody knows it…
Whether you acknowledge God or not…

Be Yourself…..

Charlie isn’t trying to be anyone other than himself…
He isn’t trying to be important….
He isn’t trying to act smarter than everyone else….
Charlie is comfortable being Charlie….
How many of us can say we are Happy with ourselves?

Love Unconditionally….

In Charlie’s World you don’t keep score or attach strings to love..
He loves unconditionally…all the time.

Smile…Laugh..Hug…
The last time I saw Charlie I brought him a T-shirt…
He hugged us….and when He hugs you…
He means it…
He patted us….
He smiled all the time…

Charlie always makes everyone fell better just for having been around him…
Who among us can say that about ourselves?

Treasure every moment….

Charlie, like John Mark, wasn’t suppose to live very long….
Doctors said they wouldn’t live past the age of four….

When you aren’t expected to live, you treasure every moment…

Little Victories are the ones that matter the most….

I will be doing some really hard things overseas for the next several months….
But everyday is difficult for Charlie…
But he never complains….
He just smiles….

Everybody focuses on the championships…
But with Charlie you celebrate all the little victories..
Then after a while you realize that those are the ones that really matter the most…

 

Trust God…..

Despite being frail and disabled John Mark Stallings wore a National Championship ring…
Every member of the 1992 Alabama team will tell you of Johnny’s impact on that team.
Johnny Stallings literally changed the world and made everybody he met a better person – if only for a moment.

Gene Stallings, a star football player, championship coach and tough enough to be one of Bear Bryant’s immortal “Junction Boys”, probably use to dream of a son who would be an impact player….
A son who would change the world….
A son who would make a difference and someday, maybe…
wear a National Championship ring…

“I prayed to God that He would change Johnny….
But he changed me….” Coach Stallings said about his son.

He added that if God offered him the chance of going back and having a “perfect” son without a disability or having Johnny…
“I’d take Johnny every time…”

 

So that gets us back to Charlie….

Thanks for all the lessons in life Charlie…..

I am going to miss you while I am gone…
Stay healthy and listen to your Momma and Daddy..
Which I know you will…
Because you always do everything right…

I am going to miss Charlie a lot…
I am going to worry about him while I am gone…
and…
I am going to pray for him everyday…

But mostly I am just going to miss him….

RTR
MEB

POST GAME……..

I hope to be back with you all sometime next year…..
(By the start of the 2009 College Football Season if I am lucky…)
I will check in when I can and leave a message or two for you all…..

Thank you for reading and enjoying my articles….
I hope they made you laugh and occasionally think…..

In case any of you were wondering…

I am going to miss you too……

Take care and be good to one another….

ROLL TIDE ROLL
MEB

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10 Responses to For Charlie….

  1. Kaye Joiner on October 26, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    It took two tissues, but I got through it. What a story! What a lesson!
    Thank you once again for your service to our country. We Bama fans are blessed to have such a gifted writer. You make me laugh and now you’ve made me cry.

    You will stay in my prayers. God Bless!

    Kaye

  2. MEB on October 26, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you so much for the kind words and prayers Kaye…

    I really appreciate it…

    ROLL TIDE ROLL
    MEB

  3. Go Bucks Michigan Sucks! on October 26, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Very good message, Mike.

    See you downrange.

    Dave

    p.s. now if you could just teach Pryor how to hold onto the football….

  4. Bulldog Jim on October 26, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    BAMA Mike, Thank you for a wonderful story! It is as “touching” as your “comedy is “funny.” I sincerely appreciate it and I appreciate you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers quite often and especially when BAMA/Opponent “kick it off” each week. Go take care of your duties, keep your head down and return home safely! Much love, your pal and brother, Bulldog Jim.

  5. Icheer4Bama on October 26, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Hey! Great, great story. You know what the best part is going to be don’t you? How excited Charlie will be to see you return. It’ll happen…believe it. 🙂

    God speed, and on behalf of my husband too, Semper Fi! You’ll be in our prayers. Keep your powder dry. (II Cor. 13:14)

    ROLL TIDE!
    Christy (Kaye’s daughter)

  6. The BamaPrincess on October 27, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Dear Mike

    First – WOW – you can make me cry as hard as you make me laugh. GREAT story.

    Next:
    You are such as awesome person – BELIEVE IT!

    You have so many fans – I bet you don’t even know them all – BELIEVE IT!

    You have so many people praying for your safe return and to keep your family safe while you are gone – BELIEVE IT!

    I am still your biggest fan and the only one who thinks she is a real princess – BELIEVE IT!!

    Thank you for your wisdom, wit and courage – it’s a wonderful combination. We await your return and will try to keep the Ws rolling in!

    Blessings to your family and you! (Joshua 1:9),

    ROLL TIDE ROLL

    The BamaPrincess
    (a/k/a Jill, Kaye’s daughter & Christy’s sister)

  7. MissMay4UK on October 28, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    If I may quote the great Bear Bryant:

    If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.

    That is all I can say right now.

    xoxo
    Your True Blue Miss May 🙂

  8. Lee on October 29, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Mike,

    I’ve passed your e-mails and site posts to fans all over the place for years now–this is your finest and most important effort, my friend. It goes into the “keeper” file. I, too, have a gifted granddaughter who lights up a room everywhere she goes despite 3 distinct heart conditions, kidney, eye, and hearing problems. Thanks for enlightening and reminding all of us that the human spirit transcends all physical and material wealth.

    And keep your head down for the next few months….

    Fly High/Semper Fi,

    Lee

  9. Margaret on November 5, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Mike,
    Stay safe and we look forward to hearing from you when you return! Thank you for all that you do for our country—you will be in our prayers!!!
    Margaret and Ben

  10. Allyn on November 6, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Mike, what a beautiful piece! Thank you for sharing and I look forward to the day when I get to help you publish your book. Although, you really do not need any assistance. My prayers for you and your family. If you can, let us know how you are doing. Wishing you many blessings.

    Allyn

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