Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rocks and Dirt

Via Thunder Run- Robert Stokely on the Little Things:

People think I am strange, some even think I might have lost my mind, especially since Mike died. They really look at me strange when it comes to my affection for rocks and dirt. But maybe they think so because they don't see it the way I do.

The Bible talks about God forming man out of the clay of the earth and that our bodies will return unto the earth when we die. David slew Goliath with a small, smooth rock, and the Romans attempted to seal the tomb of Jesus with a large stone. Pharoahs are buried in stone pyramids, and in times past, streets of the early towns of America were paved with "Belgium Blocks" - blocks loaded aboard sailing vessels in Europe to provide ballast during the return trip to America. Gold and Diamonds are just a few of the precious rocks man seeks, even to this day, and let us not forget that the difference between a well fed nation and one that starves is fertile soil.

But for me, it comes down to personal that are real experiences in my life. I like to tell stories about Mike growing up because he was so much fun to be around, and it was not a question of if, but when (an usually quite often) he would do or say somethng to make you laugh. He was full of life every waking moment. When he was three, he and I were spending the night with Momma Chris and Daddy Jim Overton. They were "my other mom and dad" and Mike got his middle name from Daddy Jim - "James".

Daddy Jim loved to cook, especially breakfast on the weekend. Mike and I spent the night there a lot qnd one Saturday morning, Daddy Jim fixed waffles and decided to add pecans to the batter. Mike, then 3, sat at a little table in the corner of the kitchen. I took the first waffle off the iron, buttered and cut it up and coated it with syrup - just the way he liked it. He dug in, but suddenly, and indiscrimantly, spit it out with a disdainful exclamation "PHOOEEE - dese things got rocks in em' !!" After we got through laughing till we cried, Daddy Jim and I tried to convince him it was o.k., they didn't have rocks, just pecans. He would have none of it and we had to fix him a waffle without "rocks". He was suspect of anything in his waffles after that.

When our family left Mike at Ft. Stewart GA after the departure ceremony for Iraq, May 14, 2005, I carried away a baggie of sand from where we last stood and embraced in a bear hug of love, as it turned out, for the last time. When we buried Mike on August 27, 2005, I placed a rose with a note telling him I loved him on his casket and kissed it one last time before they sealed his vault. As I walked away, I carefully knelt, scooped up some dirt from his grave and place it the tissue that held my tears. Such is in a drawer I open every morning when I get dressed, and I take a moment to remember, and touch the baggies.In the weeks and months after that, it became an urgency to have a small rock and some sand from the place where he died. I shared that with contacts here and in Iraq. One day, a manilla envelope arrived post marked APO Baghdad. It contained a note saying "from where Mike died" and two baggies, one with sand and one with a few small rocks. It is still a life mission that I go to that spot where Mike died and kneel with respect and touch that ground where he fell. God willing, I shall, no matter how old I might be.

In the last few weeks, I have driven hard to help get rocks for Marcia Kincaid, mother of fallen hero PFC Kenneth "Aaron" Kincaid. Marica is working feverishly on a memorial rock garden in honor of Aaron in her back yard. She wants to have a rock from all 50 states and any other country somebody can get for her. Just a simple rock (grapefruit size preferably, two if you can). She wants to have the garden complete and ready to dedicate by April 1 - Aaron's Birthday. We have ten days and she still needs some rocks - Oklahoma, Deleware, Maryland, DC, North Dakota and Alaska.

Rocks are cheap and priority postage isn't that much, compared to what she has given. My address is 100 Fountainhead Way, Sharpsburg GA 30277 (No need to keep this secret - I am too easy to find anyway). If you want to help, and don't worry if we get more than one from each place, please do so. Be sure to put a note in there so Marcia will know who sent it and can write you back.

Today, someone asked me why this is so important to me.

It just is.

Robert Stokely
proud dad SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 Aug 05 near Yusufiyah south of Baghdad

and proud to the dad of Wes and Abbey Stokely

- May no soldier go unloved