A terminal disease could not deprive Mike Bowden’s family of the joy of seeing their son graduate from high school.
When Jessie Bowden learned her husband, Mike, was battling stage 4 liver and bile duct cancer, she made a phone call, knowing that Michael’s graduation was scheduled for late May, and witnessed a miracle take place. As reported by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Jessie Bowden asked Assistant Principal Christopher Baker of Russell High School in Seale, Alabama, if she could borrow his cap and gown and if he’d be willing to present Michael a faux diploma for a makeshift ceremony at their house.
The administration agreed, and Mike was presented with a gift he would cherish for the rest of his life. Marching school officials in graduation regalia entered their front door on April 25 while “Pomp and Circumstance” played gently from a record player, and Jessie announced: ‘Mike Bowden, you are invited to Michael David Bowden Jr.’s graduation.’ An emotional Mike was reported by the Ledger-Enquirer.
As Jessie Bowden recalled to the newspaper, “He didn’t know what to say, but the look on his face was priceless.” At the event, Principal Tonya Keene presented Michael Bowden Jr. with his official diploma, and Mike Bowden Sr. died at home on May 9, two weeks before the formal graduation ceremony, according to The Associated Press. He was 64 years old at the time.
Jessie Bowden shared with the media that despite the fact that illness “stole” her husband from a life and family that he was not prepared to leave behind, Russell High School made it possible for him to accomplish one more goal. Jessie Bowden added, “I know he died a very proud dad.”