“My heart for you, Dad …”


Column and photos by WNLP’s Mike Kellems

So by now, following months of “what can happen next?!?”, we should all be ready for a “feel good” story and I think I have a good one for our loyal readers. It’ll take a few twists and turns, we’ll crawl back into the “way back” machine and, in the end, I’m thinking you’ll want to have a tissue handy.

Nearly four decades ago I became close friends with Shawn Brown. We met in college and ended up working together as police officers. Along the way Shawn married Janalee and they started a family that grew into five really great kids. I was there as each one entered into the world. I became “Uncle Mike” and have been blessed to witness as each achieved different milestones: Samuel, graduating from Purdue and joining the U.S. Army; Luke, graduating from Purdue and the police academy and becoming a police officer; Anna, graduating from Purdue (catching a theme here? just wait, there’s more) and getting married. In fact, this story is about Anna’s wedding just this past Sunday, another couple of Purdue grads and a show-stealing scene, one very famous and one that may not be so famous but outdoes the more famous one. I have to mention the final pair that round out the Brown family: Jael and Susanna, both in high school and most likely headed to West Lafayette. All five inherited their parents’ good looks.  However, they get their sense of humor from Uncle Mike, which can be a good thing and a bad thing too.

“This is my heart for you Dad”

Into the way back machine we crawl, December of 2001. Anna, all of three years old, presents her Dad, a Purdue alum, with a heart that she cut out which read “This is my heart for you, Dad.” Stand by, it is not tissue time yet. Fast forward to Anna in high school. She meets Luke, a classmate and competitor for not only class valedictorian but also for Anna’s affection. Luke is a wise young man and promptly goes to see Mr. Brown to ask if he could court young Anna. Mr. Brown replies with a “no” — sort of. Mr. Brown along with his wife Janalee, also a Purdue grad, have strong Christian values and want Luke to follow a few guidelines, to which Luke agrees. Eventually a courtship begins and along the way they graduate high school; Anna, class valedictorian and Luke, salutatorian. I don’t recall the specifics; however, the spread was a fraction of a point.

So a little bit of history. Gene Cernan is a famous NASA astronaut who is best known for being the last man on the moon following Apollo 17’s mission in December of 1972. Cernan, a Purdue graduate, did something while on the moon that has to be the envy of every father since — something that is near impossible to top, at least prior to this past Sunday. Before departing the moon, Cernan traced his daughter Tracy’s initials, TDC, in the dust on the moon’s surface. Talk about setting the bar a little high!

Back to the romance. Love blossomed like flowers in springtime and soon enough, Luke asks for Anna’s hand in marriage. Plans are made, a date picked out and this past Sunday, Father’s Day no less, Anna and Luke are wed. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Remember the heart? Well, Shawn kept that heart, as any father would. It was recently recovered by Anna who sewed it onto the back of a tie that her dad was to wear at the wedding. Anna gave that tie to her dad during the rehearsal dinner and it proved to be a tear-jerker of a moment but wait, it still isn’t tissue time!

So this past Sunday — of all days, Father’s Day — Shawn and Janalee watched as their oldest daughter became happily wedded to her high school sweetheart.

The walk down the aisle …

It was a beautiful day and an even more beautiful wedding ceremony. Following the nuptials, after everyone had settled down for dinner, it was time for a toast by the father of the bride. Shawn launched into a well-researched history of Anna and Luke, spoke of their courtship and the desire for their relationship to be based on lessons from the Bible, and how proud he was of Luke for following the principals laid out by Anna’s parents.

Shawn also spoke of the heart, Anna’s heart, that was sewn onto the tie he was wearing and the incredible significance of that precious three-year-old giving her daddy her heart. And then, just when we all assumed Shawn was done, he pulled the heart off of his tie, walked over to his brand new son-in-law, placed the heart gingerly in Luke’s hand and said “Anna’s heart belongs to you now” (bring on the tissue!). If there was a dry eye, I couldn’t see it through my own blurred vision.

Now, no disrespect to Gene Cernan, however I submit to you that Anna’s dad may very well have topped his fellow Purdue alum. I know if you ask Anna, Luke or any of the 150 or so guests, you’ll not get an argument from them.

Have a great week!

Anna and Luke



5 Responses to ““My heart for you, Dad …””

  1. Sharon Ratliff

    Jun 24. 2020

    This was a very nice story, with everything going on these days it is always nice to read a uplifting story. Thank you Mike that was nice of you to write a beautiful story. Congratulations to the Newlyweds

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jeff Bernel

    Jun 24. 2020

    Wonderful story. Thank you for posting it on WNLP. You are a very good writer and have the knack of personalizing your writing so it pleases the mind and the heart. This one obviously was aimed at the “heart.” Touching and very good to read a feel good story. Certainly needed these days.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Diane Humphrey

    Jun 24. 2020

    What an incredible love story. I did need that tissue. Thanks for the warning, and thank you for sharing this wonderful wedding day with your readers. Congratulations to the Newlyweds!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Pauletta Schuster

    Jun 27. 2020


    Reply to this comment
  5. Nancy Bunton

    Sep 15. 2020

    Terrific story..beautiful family. Congrats parents!

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply