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June 18, 2004

To The Once and Future Father

Derek Shackelford

On November 11th, 2002, I became the father of a precious baby boy named Derin. Anyone who has experienced the joy of fatherhood knows it can be a life-changing event.

Being a part of a miracle is something that is definitely life altering. I was fortunate enough to see Derin born. Everything that I had heard about the experience of childbirth was mixed. Some men said it was difficult to witness all the pain and agony. Others say they wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Personally I prefer the latter. This was one event that I would not have missed for anything. To witness the birth of your child brings emotions that are very hard to explain. To this day, it still is a magical moment. Fatherhood brings joy and pain, heartbreak and heartache, pleasure and difficulties, but still I would not exchange the experience.

In my own childhood, my father had a very significant impact. He was the first one to demonstrate to me the responsibilities of manhood. He also showed me it is okay for a man to hug someone and say "I love you."

He showed that a man not only works outside the home but inside as well, which includes cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes. Thomas Shackelford showed no favoritism among his three sons. He showed love and affection to each of us. Although he is now deceased, his legacy lives on in his three sons.

As long as we live, Thomas Shackelford will never die, because he gave us something that is everlasting. This is love, love, and more love.

Now that I have the responsibilities of being a father, I can recall the memories of my own childhood and understand the pride in watching your children develop. My father was in the Army, so we constantly got reinforced to "be all that you can be." Well, I definitely have tried and am still pursuing the dream.

My father always reminded me that I could never be part of the Armed Forces. He would make a great prophet, because he was right. I am more of a contemporary man. I reinforce to Derin, the words of hip hop musician Nas Escobar: "I know you can be what you want to be, and if you work hard at it, you'll be where you want to be."

So, as this Father's Day rolls upon us, I salute Thomas Shackelford for being the best Father to his children.

As a son I would give my father the basic Old Spice cologne for a Father's Day gift. So, in case you are listening Derin, Daddy loves you! And by the way, forget the Old Spice, how about the gift certificate to the spa. Daddies need love, too.

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