They say a boy’s first hero is his dad. I think that is often true. For me, I think my Dad is my last hero. He is the one I turn to when I have questions that don’t have answers. When I need someone to stand in prayer that I know I can count on, its my dad. The one who knows nearly all my secrets and the things only God hears me say…that’s my dad; very much my hero from now till I’m done.
But my first hero was my uncle. His name, like most men in our family, is John. But to me, he will always be Uncle Sonny. When I was a tiny little guy, he called me Michael Angelo. I remember riding around in his white Chevy Impala with red interior listening to him sing Hank Willaims, ‘Hey Good Lookin’ and Elvis’ ‘Hound Dog.’ He seemed to me to be the happiest grown up Id ever seen.
I saw him play football once while he was in college. In my memory he was lightening fast. In that game I saw him simply hurdle a would be tackler and I thought he could fly. One night he was arrested for running from a cop while speeding. I didn’t know they would let him out the next day. I cried myself to sleep as mom rocked me, because I thought he was gone for good.
He and Mary Jane asked me to be in their wedding. I didn’t do it though. I thought Mary Jane was the prettiest girl Id ever seen and I was embarrassed just to look at her. Uncle Sonny served in the army too. I don’t know what he did, but I saw him in uniform and I was just amazed at how powerful he looked. Later he became a coach and I so loved football that I thought that coaching must be the greatest job in the world. He and his friends, Zeke and Dolly had more fun just hanging around than any one I had ever seen. You never heard such laughing.
So when you add it all up Uncle Sonny was the guy who was happy enough to sing…ALL the time. He was a great athlete. He was a soldier. He was a coach. He had the coolest car. He had the prettiest girl. On the down-low he slipped me a little cash almost every time I saw him. My Uncle Sonny was hero material from the start.
Sonny told me about the first time he saw a football game on a T.V. he said, “I knew at that moment what I wanted to do with my life.” A clear vision is a great thing. Now, Sonny stands in the End Zone of life. He crossed the goal line. His helmet is in his hand and the shoulder pads are off. It seemed to me that there was still time on the clock. But for him, the game is won. The fight for a hero is not the conflict of a given day, some skirmish on a piece of ground or a battle from a hospital bed. The fight is to walk with honor. My first hero, Uncle Sonny, is an honorable man. I pray peace for his family. Comfort for my Mom and Dad and I hope Sonny spiked the ball.