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Guest column/Community came together to remember Lee West

March 11, 2012
By COOKIE WEST , The Herald-Star

Giving honor and praise to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, who is the center of my life, we would like to recognize, specifically, Vinson House of Mortuary for taking care of Lee, who died on Jan. 31, and our family in our time of unimaginable sorrow.

I decided to write a letter to the editor so I could say thank you. At times, I feel those two words are inadequate. I cannot really explain verbally or in written form how appreciative that my family and I are. The overwhelming amount of support that we have received has been amazing. We have received donations and acts of kindness from across the Ohio Valley, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. We have received donations from churches, Red Cross and businesses, restaurants, neighbors, friends, strangers, college students, high school students, junior high school students and elementary students. There is no way I could name even one-third of the individuals who have been so generous and kind to us in our time of deep sorrow. However, I would like each and every person who has donated anything, whether it was clothing, money or prayers, to know that I love you.

Lee was talking to me about three days before he passed how he wanted to give back. Lee was telling me that when he made it big that he was going to give back. Making it big was when he was going to use his God-given talents to go to college and pursue his degree in engineering.

He knew his athletic abilities were going to increase his opportunities to go to college and even possibly play a professional sport. However, his ultimate goal was to help people.

He said, "Cook, I want to help everybody. If God gives it to you, you have to give it back." I was so proud, but I was wondering why he was telling me that then, when he had between five and eight years to finish high school, go to college and then, possibly, play professional sports. But he didn't, because three days later he was with the angels. See, he was letting me know his wishes because he wasn't going to be here - ironic.

I miss my son every second I breathe. I miss my son when I am asleep. I miss my son. But I know I will see him again, because before Jan. 31, my son accepted Jesus Christ as his lord and savior. My son decided he was going to have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. He didn't put God on hold - he decided to choose him, and it was the best decision he ever made. We do not know the day or the hour we will depart from this world. But I always told Lee he must always be prepared and ready for anything. And, just like the wonderful son he was, he listened to his mother and was ready.

So, parents, coaches, teachers, guardians, neighbors and anyone who took the time to read this, lead by example. We must realize our children are watching us - they are always watching us.

So, once again, I want to say thank you, God bless and I will be praying for our communities to use this tragedy as a blessing.

(West is a resident of Steubenville.)

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