There is nothing in life that gives me more pleasure than seeing the smile on my children’s face when I walk back in the door from a business trip or concert. there are many things that I lacked in life but my greatest yearning was for a loving family. Now I get to spend my days being the father, and husband and I always hoped to be.
Some marriages start as romantic ballads with poetic imagery of memorable first glances. Like most things in my life, the beginning of this story was also no fairy tale. In 1998 my mother was offered a transfer to Raleigh, North Carolina and against every desire of my heart she accepted. Going into my Junior year of high school and what would be my 13th school in 11 years I boarded a bus to Leesville Road High School on September 22nd, 1998. There in one of the first rows on the bus sat a quite, reserved, shy young lady who would not spare a glance in my direction. Little did I know that my northern demeanor and style of dress was less than approachable so she kept a distance. Over the course of that next year we began to build a friendship and during my senior year of High School we were officially dating. Complicated by her mothers utter disdain for my existence our young love survived until it met the attractive lure of College Freedom. Shortly after entering our freshman year at separate colleges 235 miles apart before the glory days of inexpensive cell phone service the relationship ended on a sour note.
Fast Forward almost 4 years into the future after I dropped out of college to join the military, and she was working on her practicals to complete her degree in Kinesiology we became reacquainted as friends through the technical marvel of Facebook. With more life experience, numerous relationships, and blossoming friendship we made the unusual decision to skip another bout of courtship and jumped straight to marriage. On December 29th 2006 we were married after just 4 months of renewed friendship. While still serving in the United States Navy as a Reactor Operator and instructor our first daughter was born on September 14th of 2008, and for several months before her arrival my health started to deteriorate. Pain, fatigue, vertigo, night sweats, muscle cramps, migraine headaches and a bad knee landed me on limited duty out of the field I had grown to love. Despite my physical condition the pending birth of my daughter kept me motivated to excel at every task, and do everything in my power to provide for our family as planned.
Recognized as a top performer even in my interim responsibilities my wife was always so supportive and encouraging I couldn’t give less than my absolute best. I still remember one morning when getting ready to head to the personal detachment for my interim duty as IT manager my wife handed me something a little smaller than a business card. When I looked, it was a small card that said “Keena’s Superman” wrapped in clear scotch tape to protect it from wear and tear. That card was just one of the hundreds of small gestures my wife had done in our less than two years of marriage but there was something about this gift that set my motivation on overdrive. It encouraged me to return to school and complete my business degree, and then earn a second degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology. It motivated me to do my very best in every opportunity before me, and when I was informed on March 24th, 2009 that the Navy was giving me 30 days notice and ending my military career she showed her true heart in a single statement. After delivering the bad news with a painted smile, trying to hold in my fear and anxiety my wife looked at me with all sincerity and said “I would love you in a paper box, everything will be just fine.” Within a few weeks I took the first job available in Philadelphia as a Field Service Technician to keep the promise that my wife would stay home with our first child. That technician job became a manager role within 8 months, that led to a Director within 3 years, and the Vice President just short of my 5 year anniversary.
The tenacity that has lead to professional success, cathartic artistry, and community service comes from my Faith in God and the unwavering support of my loving family. Of all the journeys of my life, I find none more rewarding than the daily reminder that I am the husband and father of some of the greatest people on the planet.
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