By Steve Huffman
Jamie Patterson said several boys asked her to attend the East Rowan Junior ROTC Military Ball this past Saturday at the National Guard Armory at Rowan County Airport.
Jamie, 16, is a pretty high school senior who will graduate from East Rowan in the spring.
But to all her classmates who asked her to be their date, Jamie had the same reply:
“Sorry,” she’d say. “I’m going with my dad.”
The fact that Jamie wanted her father to accompany her to the ball is touching and particularly moving because Roy suffers with non-hodgkins lymphoma.
His long-term prognosis, Roy said, remains largely up in the air. He’s been battling cancer since April 2004.
Bouts of chemotherapy have become a regular part of Roy’s life and this past November he underwent emergency surgery for an irregular heartbeat.
It’s a life that Roy, 49, a big fellow who has always been able to handle anything thrown at him, couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.
“The doctors haven’t said it’s terminal,” he insisted of his illness. “They’re just not sure what’s going to happen after chemo. They say I could have six months or I could have 15 years. They really don’t know.”
Roy’s wife, Kathy, who also attended Saturday’s dance, grew too emotional to speak when asked about her husband’s long-term prognosis.
Her eyes welled with tears and she fought to compose herself.
“He’s had a very good outlook,” Kathy finally said. “He’s handled it better than I could have.”
Roy grew silent as his wife spoke. Moments later, he noted that none of us are promised so much as another breath.
“We’re Christians,” Roy said. “The Lord saved me in 1995. I know where I’m going. That part doesn’t bother me.”
Besides, Saturday’s ball was an opportunity for the Pattersons to kick back and have a good time.
Jamie laughed when asked if she and her father had been practicing the latest dance steps.
“We’re going to slow dance so we don’t really need to practice,” she said.
When Jamie moseyed off to spend time with her classmates, both her parents wondered aloud at how they managed to produce such a wonderful young lady.
They said because she started school a year early, Jamie will graduate high school at 16, not turning 17 until September. The Pattersons said Jamie plans to attend Rowan-Cabarrus Community for at least two years following high school.
“She’s a wonderful girl,” Kathy said.
No brag, she and her husband insisted, just fact.
Jamie said she’s thoroughly enjoyed her time in the ROTC program at East Rowan. She was promoted Saturday night to the rank of lieutenant colonel and received an Academic Achievement Wreath plus Venture Gold and Venture Silver awards.
Jamie said one of the most fun things she’s done with the ROTC is travel twice to Florida for summer scuba diving outings.
Outside of ROTC, Jamie has been selected for Girl’s State and inclusion in the National Honor Society.
Roy continues to work most days at Concord Builders where he operates a track hoe.
“Most of the time, I feel well enough to work,” he said.
Roy laughed that the chemotherapy he’s received has turned his hair silver, but so far hasn’t caused it to turn loose.
Kathy is an Army veteran and works at the Hefner VA Medical Center.
The family attends Canaan Baptist Church near Granite Quarry.
“We’re proud of our church,” Roy said.
On Saturday night, Roy’s daughter proved that she was mighty proud of him.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or email@example.com.