I love you. You are and always will be the love of my life.
There is a moving and unfathomable poetry to the fact that I am writing this letter to you in the July issue of Black Enterprise magazine, the dream we worked to bring to fruition more than 40 years ago. It was 52 years ago, on our glorious July 2 wedding day, that you blessed my life by agreeing to be my wife. From that day to this we have never been apart. Yes, we have been physically separated since you departed this mortal plane early in the morning of May 25, 2012. However, in spirit, you remain with me, and I with you; we will forever be together. You are and always will be my soul mate.
The smartest decision that I ever made was to court you and ask for your hand in marriage. I was captured by your matchless beauty, intelligence, grace, and dignity from the start; when we met, I knew: “This is it.” I was blessed beyond measure when you agreed to be my bride. When you became my wife, you became my everything—my best and most loyal friend, devoted lover, and the guide and protector of our family, which would grow from our three sons, Earl Jr., Johnny, and Michael, to include their wives and our eight bright and beautiful grandchildren. In addition to being a dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother, you also became my most trusted and wisest business partner, adviser, critic, confidante, defender, and troubleshooter—the secret weapon who ensured the success of our family and our business. You are and always will be my life partner.
There are not enough words available to me to pay even adequate tribute to all that you have done for me, all of the meaning you brought to my life. On the many nights I came home exhausted, beaten, bloodied, and bruised from the daily battles of building a fledgling publishing company against all manner of obstacles and the most determined naysayers, you always raised my spirits, cleaned me up, and sent me back into the fray. You created a safe place for me to strip off my armor, heal from the wounds of battle, regain my strength, and rebuild my faith in our dream and our vision of justice, empowerment, and opportunity for African Americans.
Barbara, you have always provided me with a guiding sense of perspective and balance, one that helps to direct my life choices even to this day and forevermore. Your values and principles keep me on track, and continue to serve as a beacon to our children and their children, as I know it will for generations to come. The truth is that you were not just a wife and mother, but a queen and a warrior, ready, willing, and able to set and enforce high standards and stand up for what’s right. Thanks to you, I’ve entered every battle—whether on behalf of our family and company, or on behalf of African Americans and others less fortunate than us—knowing that our cause was just, even when victory was not assured.
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