Monday, September 17, 2012

what's in a name?

people called him texas tuff, shooby, matt, matthew, matty, mattio, husband, son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin, friend, navy pilot.

i called him matt, my friend. really, my best friend growing up.

and my husband, same friend and roommate at USNA.

ken and i met at matt's wedding in june 2002 and started dating after his accident. we were so close to matt that when we found out we were having a boy in 2008, the name choice was matthew. we wanted to honor ken's brother, phillip, who passed away at the age of 24 from testical cancer, too. we decided our son's name would be phillip matthew schwalbe but the whole PMS initials might be too traumatic for 8th grade. we settled on matthew phillip and would let our son decide which name he wanted to be called.

bearing a strong name of honor, service, love, sacrifice was the natural choice for our first born child.

when our son was born 3 months early, it never occured to me he wouldn't still be here on earth with our family today. 5 days after he made his entrance into the world, our matthew phillip joined Matt and Phillip in heaven. we were stationed in Greece at the time of matthew's birth. because i was recovering from an emergency c-section in the hospital, and not with ken when he went to register our son's name with the birth certificate office in Chania, Crete, Greece, ken left with a birth cert that read "baby boy schwalbe." (both parents had to be present to name the child.)

when matthew phillip went to Jesus 5 days after his debut, i thought, just for a moment, should his name be something else?

how do you name your child after an older brother who was looked up to and a friend who meant so much to us, who dies?

for a brief moment, i could not get my head around keeping his originally planned name.

just for one moment.

then i remembered the men matthew seth and phillip raymond were...they defined honor, love, service, and sacrifice.

we changed his name from baby matthew phillip. of course.

today would have been "BIG MATT'S" (as Ken and I call him) 37TH BIRTHDAY.

in honor of matt's birthday today, i collaborated with matt's family, his widow, and friends, and we gave a 21-year-old widow/single mom of a 3-year-old girl a good amount of cash, new and gently used household items, and clothes as she picks up the pieces of her life and tries to start over. in july, she lost her husband after only 2 DAYS of marriage. we did this today in honor of matt's birthday, because matt also left behind a wife. only matt's wife (and those young widows out there) know how hard these next days, months, and years will be for her.


we started a FB page ( and blog ( to honor Matt this 10th anniversary of not calling him to say happy birthday and next month, the 10th anniversary of his accident when he died doing what he loved.

we're encouraging everyone to do an ARK...

ACT OF RANDOM KINDNESS. (from Evan Almighty nonetheless.)

do these ARKs today on his birthday, the 10-year anniversary of his accident, Oct 18, 2012, and always.

because that's how matt rolled...always serving and always giving. he had parents who taught him this value and a wife who encouraged him to do it. i know because all of them still do it.

there are no rules here. matt always lived out of the box and he was and wasn't a rule-follower.

post your ARK to the FB page between now and Oct 18, 2012. if you can't do it on 10/18, do it sometime between now and then. or afterwards.

just make sure...


if you feel so inclined, we are also blessing 3 military enlisted families in need with cash and gift cards. check out the FB page, blog page or email for more details.

matt loved we love others.

heavy...i know. i teared up some writing this.

i would be remiss if i didn't leave you with this (what i think is a funny!) story...because matt always knew how to laugh and encouraged others to take themselves less seriously.

matt had a back tat. no, i'm not even kidding. (sorry matt's mom...i know you are dying that i am writing this!)

a back tat like a girl (wonder why i had a guy as my best friend growing up, and no, i'm not saying he was feminine at all.)

when not serving others, matt just did what he wanted and had a good time doing it.

had i been at the tattoo shop when this back tat atrocity occurred, i would have encouraged him to pick an ichthus, or Jesus fish, like i have.

but no, this smart guy...picked a texas longhorn for his back tat.

gosh almighty. don't you know when Jesus met him in heaven and told him he was in...He asked him why the longhorn tat?

matt: "i don't know. i like texas. it seemed like the logical choice."

Jesus: "i knew you texans were a different breed."

1 comment:

Patti said...

HUGS and thank you for loving my son.