“Hey bro, I just wanted to call and see how you were doing?”
That’s how the phone call started, as most phone calls from him did. I leaned back in my chair and I immediately decompressed. We joked about how we both hated writing home studies, ‘no matter how much someone is willing to pay!’, even though neither of us were even eligible to be paid because of our positions. He had just left Freebirds and as food connoisseur’s we both agreed Freebirds over Chipotle any day. We talked about his thirty year reunion this past weekend. He mentioned he had such a good time and shared several memories about his classmates back then and now. We talked about our wives and our children, especially our children. He loved his children something fierce, from Josh on down to his three little ones about to be adopted. His love for them was evident by the three year foster care journey to be their daddy! We talked about the upcoming golf tournament here in Amarillo next week. He had been telling me since day one, ‘golf tournaments are the way to go bubba!’ I was so proud to let him know it looked like it was going to be a success! And, then he mentioned how a former youth he had helped recently reached out to his office with the consideration of a large donation to Arrow, because of everything he had done for her. You could tell he was so humbled and honored. I affirmed to him that he was that good of dude and everyone knew it! Then we said, ’talk to you later’ and hung up the phone.
This has been my ‘norm’ for the past three years, phone calls to and from Mo Brown, who I affectionately called Mo-Diggity. So, what do you do when you learn your ‘norm’ is no more? When you learn that the call 36 hours ago will be the last, “hey bro, how are you doing?” call you get from Mo-Diggity. I tell you what you do, you pick up your phone and scroll through your voicemail and you listen to every single message that man ever left you. Even the five second ones that say, ‘hey bro, give me a call when you get the opportunity…’ and then you cry, scratch that, you sob, you yell, you punch your desk…because you are all out of ‘opportunities’ to give that man a call. And, men like that are few and far between. You know it, because he was special. You know it, because he cared about you and always had your back. You know it, because you always felt like, ‘this is a guy, I want to be like..’ And, when you lose that, it hurts.
Heroes are few and far between in this world, but Mo Brown was one of my heroes. He loved his wife like Christ loved the Church. Their love was contagious. He loved his babies more than life itself and he fought, battled, protected, nurtured, and prayed over those little ones as a proud father. He was in one accord with his Heavenly father, ‘the Defender of the Fatherless….’, and his life was evidence of that fact.
He was a man who stood for what’s right, no matter who was looking. He was my sounding board, venting board, and shoot the breeze guy in the child welfare field. And, as a guy in this field, finding those dudes are few and far between. But, more than all that, he was my friend. He was someone who made me believe I had it in me to lead, grow, and prosper not only in this field, but life. And, now he’s made his exit. But, he’s not gone. His lessons are rich, his laugh still rings in my ear, his heart for his family is still admirable, his desire to be the best man he could be every single day will still challenge me to get up and do it like Mo. Oh, there will be days I’ll find myself just staring at my phone wanting to hit the Mo-Diggity button (afterall, we talked several times a week), but now I’ll just close my eyes, lean back in my chair and listen to everything he ever taught me and told me. Mo Brown, you impacted my life more than I ever told you and I’m a better man, because of you. Thank You! We will never get that last gutpak at Vitek’s we had scheduled for this past June 18th (before the child welfare world got in our way!) But, I’m glad I got a day with you last week in Dallas. I’ll cherish that day and your phone call yesterday for the rest of my life bro.
He loved Jesus, his family, football, East Texas, cooking out and serving children and families in foster care. What a legacy. When I grow up I want to be like Mo Brown. He was one of my heroes and my heart will have an empty spot until we greet each other on the other side and I get a, ‘how you been bubba?’…..
Tonight, I not only remember the good times with Mo, but my heart also breaks for Shirl and their four beautiful children. They need us, they need our prayers, and they need our support. Mo was also their hero, their husband, their daddy, and that is a void no one will ever be able to fill.
Pray for them and remember Mo. He was and is one of the best ones to ever live!