Forty-two years ago today, a little girl was born to Debra and Johnny Sears in a little West Kentucky town. Little baby. Big dreams. Little fingers and tiny toes. Big feet to follow in. Little bundle of joy. Lots of responsibilites.
Little did anyone know then, but that little girl would turn out to be such a big deal.
At the tender age of 16, Leigh Ann Sears graduated from Graves County High School with honors. She headed off to Western Kentucky University, where she was both the Student Government President and Homecoming Queen. And, within just a couple of years, she was headed off to the University of Louisville School of Law.
At 20, Leigh Ann became the youngest graduate in the history of the U Of L Law School, and she immediately got a job clerking for a Kentucky Supreme Court Justice. All before she had reached the legal drinking age of 21.
At 30, Leigh Ann owned her own lobbying firm in Frankfort.
At 40, Leigh Ann owned one of the biggest lobbying firms in Frankfort.
Earlier this year, Leigh Ann was named as one of the most successful young women professionals by The Kentucky Gazette.
It is a resume of success. It is a recipe for success. It is truly an amazing list of a professional checklist. To be sure.
Yet, all of the professional accomplishments don’t come close to defining that little girl born just 42 years ago. The amazing accomplishments draw the lines, for sure. But it is the color found within the lines — and the body and heart — that truly fills in the blanks, and defines the soul. And, this soul is bountiful.
Oh, yes. The experiences do tell you the story of a compelling, disciplined and determine young woman — hellbent on making a living and a difference. But all the facts and figures fail miserably in telling you the “who” within the “what.” And, the “Who” is “What” this gal is all about.
You may have a black and white photo of Leigh Ann Sears by reading her resume. But, as Jamie Johnson would sing:
“Yeah a pictures worth a thousand words…
“But you can’t see what those shades of gray keep covered…
“You should have seen it in color.”
And, truthfully, you should see Leigh Ann Sears in color.
You would see a daughter that loves her family more than her father loves the land he tills each and every day of the year; and loves her mother just as much.
You would see a sister that treasures her little Sis so much that they talk every single day. Not once, mind you. Sometimes a hundred times a day. Not kidding.
You would see an Aunt that cherishes her niece and nephew and holds them like Tom Brady cradles a Super Bowl trophy. She watches their videos and giggles like a child at Disney World. Over and over. Every single time.
You would see a friend that is there every time. Not when it is convenient. Not when it is easy. Not when you want and need to talk about something great. Every single time. No matter the time. No matter how tough. No matter how long. She is there. Always.
Most of all, though, you would see a mother. A mother who loves her son when he doesn’t even know it. A mother who loves her son more than he will ever know it. A mother who loves her son even though he ignores her, and takes her for granted, and aggravates her to the very end of the last nerve — just for the fun of it. A mother who loves her son. Without end.
You would see a young lady that is deep in her soul as she is wide in her accomplishments. Deep. And. Wide.
I am lucky.
So very fortunate.
Even more blessed.
I call Leigh Ann Sears my wife.
My loving friend.
When we got married in Argentina nearly a decade ago, in the middle of one of Cavas Wine Lodge and on the foothills of a wondrous mountain range in Mendoza, I took Leigh Ann’s hand and looked into her eyes.
I told her this:
“I have been lost for much of my life, I think. But when I found you, Leigh, I truly found me.”
Today is Leigh Ann’s birthday. I don’t know what to get her. She has about anything and everything that she either needs or wants (with the possible exception of a successful husband).
I don’t know what to do; where to take her; what to say; what to wrap up and put in a box.
I don’t know what to give her. I don’t know how to tell her. I don’t know how to celebrate her.
Everything I think of is so inadequate and underwhelming that I even laugh at the ideas.
I don’t know what to do.
All I know is that I will give her a promise and a pledge to love her until the last breath I take on this earth, and that I will try my very best to make every day better than the one before. I will give her everything that I am and have, because I owe it all to her any way. And, I will give her a hug. Not just from the arms. But from the heart.
When I found Leigh, I found me. And, I never will be able to tell her how much that truly means. Not today. Not ever.
Happy birthday, sweetheart.