Matthew Justin was born on December 12, 1983. The Dallas Cowboys were playing the Washington Redskins that day. As an immature 22 year old I was torn between going to the delivery room and keeping up with the game. Fortunately the game was on a TV not too far from the delivery room. Also in those days the dad didn’t have a priority like they do today about going into the room where the kid was being born. Matthew had no complications and was born on time. He was my boy! This filled out our family perfectly. It was a good time for us.
Mother bought Meredith a large baby doll so she would not feel left out with all the hoopla about Matthew being born. I remember one time when somebody came to the door to see Matthew and Meredith answered the door and immediately said, “He is in there.” She said this w/o the guests asking anything or saying anything. I struggled with that because I felt like Meredith felt she was moved to the backseat and didn’t matter anymore. My first tension as a dad with two kids. I soon realized that Meredith loved Matthew and there was no jealousy at all. They became best buddies and did everything together.
This was right at the time when I became fascinated with cameras and bought a Canon AE1. I went to a class and began taking lots of pics. Some of my favorite ones were of Matthew sitting in a chair playing with an old Brownie Camera.
I remember one time when Matthew walked up on the church steps at Grace Baptist Church and there was a dog on the porch-type-area. Matthew started petting the dog and said, “Puppet”. Our pastor was standing there and we both looked at one another and laughed real hard. Matthew was in Awanas or was familiar with it and we did puppet programs a lot. I was the Puppeteer at the time so he was growing up around puppets.
Probably my biggest disappointment with Matthew were the lost expectations. I planned to throw the ball with him and teach him how to play sports. Him leaving at four years of age was an incredible blow. It was even more difficult to watch another man teach him how to play ball. As I went to his games and watched him run the bases and swing and miss and sometimes hit and interact in the dugout ripped my heart out. At one time I helped his step-dad in practice as I fielded balls. I tried to pretend everything was okay. At one moment he was mine for four years and two years later he was playing ball with another man who would get drunk and verbally abuse him. I don’t know if he ever hit Matthew. I felt lost in it all. I cannot even imagine how Matthew felt. I remember asking him one time that if he could have anything he wanted what would it be. He said to have his daddy and mommy together again.