I’ve been reflecting on what makes a “real man” and the example of one recently in our lives. When my daughter, Raquel, was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she had not started dating boys yet. But there were a couple that she was friends with, that she would carry on conversations with via text on her phone. One of them in particular, she was texting in the hospital after her first surgery. I admit, I was curious about with whom she was conversing. I finally got the name of the young man, which was Morgan. She had been texting him for almost a year, and had hung out with him at a dance or two, and a school outing to an amusement park. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet this young man until after Raquel’s second hospitalization, which left her partially paralyzed on the left side of her face and throat. The occasion was her 16th birthday party, which he attended. It was great to finally put a name to the face, and he seemed to be very nice. After her party, Raquel got strong enough to go on her first date, which was with Morgan. They met at her best friend, Chloe’s house, and watched a movie with Chloe and her date. Raquel had a great time, and I was so happy for her to be able to have that experience. After that, Raquel started spending more time with Morgan, and inviting him over to hang out at our house. They would often play games or watch movies together. My other children love Morgan, and considered him their personal jungle gym. They would climb all over him, and ride on his shoulders around the house. I worried that they would annoy the heck out of him, but he genuinely seemed to love playing with them, even when it got rough. He never said an unkind word to any of them, and graciously tolerated their physical play and crazy antics. I joked several times that our 9 yr old daughter thought Morgan was her boyfriend. She would always play with him and hold his hand. After one of the plays that Morgan attended at the high school with us, we were walking out, and he was holding hands with both our daughters. It made me smile. One time we invited Morgan to come with us to a family birthday party, which was a 45 minute drive away. I wasn’t sure if being in a car with so many kids would drive him crazy, but he decided to come along. We put a movie on in the car, “The Secret Garden,” and though it wasn’t the most current, entertaining movie on the market, everyone seemed content. We all had a great time at the family party, and Morgan seemed to fit right in. On the way home, it melted my heart to see Raquel laying her head on his shoulder on the ride home. Another time, Raquel informed me that she wanted to go to Morgan’s house to watch a Harry Potter movie. When I went to pick her up, I found her sound asleep, on Morgan’s shoulder again. Morgan knew how to make hats and scarves, and made Raquel a set. Here she is wearing the hat he made her, and showing the kids a video. She loved the hat and other gifts he gave her. I think Raquel and Morgan had a fun way of communicating with each other. She tended to be funny and sarcastic, and he probably gave some of that back to her. When prom time came, he plotted with Chloe about the best way to ask Raquel to the prom. One night, Chloe drove Raquel around our neighborhood for at least 15 minutes, listening to a song with the words “shut up and dance with me.” When she finally brought Raquel back to our home, Morgan was waiting in our driveway with roses and a poster that said, “Raquel, just shut up and dance with me!! Prom?” Raquel was elated, and spent a few days stewing about the best way to deliver a yes, answer. She finally decided on a soccer theme, since Morgan plays soccer (very well, I might add). On the day of prom, Raquel, Morgan, Chloe and Chloe’s date, spent a few hours together before the dance, having a “day date.” The girls went to a thrift store and bought tank tops. They made the boys wear the tank tops around town, and again, Raquel had a wonderful time. Honestly, how many teenage boys would be willing to wear a girl’s tank top in public?? Prom itself, was a wonderful event. When Morgan brought her home, she told Mike “It was awesome! He made me feel like a princess!” I’m so glad she enjoyed it! The following month there was another girl’s choice dance at Raquel’s high school. Again, she poured over instagram and Pinterest, searching for the cleverest way to ask Morgan to take her. Here is the poster I helped her make for the occasion. Morgan answered by delivering a big box which read, “I’d love to go when pigs fly,” and it was full of pink helium balloons with pig faces 🙂 Again, Raquel had a fabulous time, and Morgan was nothing but a gentleman. He always made her feel that she was pretty and loved. He would come and just hold her hand, when she couldn’t do anything else. He was always there for her.
After Raquel passed away, I invited Morgan over to our house to hang out with the kids. He actually babysat them while we went to the mortuary. The kids had a great time playing with him, and it just felt good to have him here. When it was time for him to leave, I gave him a big hug and thanked him for being such a dear friend to Raquel, and for helping her feel so beautiful and loved over the past months. Mike took him off alone for a moment and putting his hands on Morgan’s shoulders, expressed to him that his compassion, tenderness and kindness towards our daughter was so greatly appreciated and that he was “a great man.” I gave him this letter that Raquel had written to herself when she was 12, about the type of guy she would like to be with. I think Morgan fit the bill pretty well 🙂 I have been around a lot of men in my life, and I don’t believe toughness is what makes a man, a real man. Most guys can act tough if they want to. It’s the tenderness, Christlike love, thoughtfulness and not caring about what other people think, but only about what is truly important, that makes a real man. Morgan has shown us that he is a real man, and I’m grateful for the true example he set for my children, and the sweet friend he was to Raquel when she needed it most. Thank you, Morgan, from the bottom of my heart.