To say I am proud of Mike would be a tremendous understatement! He worked very hard to be where he is today, overcoming some likely inherited insecurities and struggles to graduate from college. Not that he isn’t smart, he is--college just wasn’t his thing. Many times Mike talked to my wife Kathy and I about quitting and we would ask him to stick it out. Finally, in his junior year, we decided to tell him to quit if he thought he just couldn’t do it. After that, he never again asked us about quitting and took it upon his own to graduate! Mike is a ‘hands on’ kind of guy. He can tell you anything about Army Aviation and fly a Blackhawk with the hand-eye coordination I wish I had been blessed with, but English Literature or Macroeconomics are not in his wheelhouse of interests.
After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Mike spent five years as an enlisted helicopter mechanic before attending Warrant Officer training, then helicopter pilot training. He chose the Warrant Officer course which allowed him to fly his entire career, avoiding any future desk time that a commissioned officer may endure. A very smart choice for him!
As he was growing up, Mike wanted to follow me around and be like me. Once, when Mike was about as tall as my waist, I was having trouble putting up a light fixture or something when Mike said, “Hey Dad, why don’t you do it this way?” He was right and his suggestion worked. Mike is smart that way. He started college as an engineering student, again I assume because I had graduated as an engineer. I wasn’t sure it was the right move, but I didn’t discourage Mike from trying it. Eventually, he was smart enough to realize it wasn’t for him. Again, he was readjusting, something I didn’t figure out when I was in college. I think I would have been more fulfilled as an architect, but didn’t know any better at the time. And I certainly wasn’t ready to be a writer!
Mistakes? I made a few, maybe a lot--but we all will. I wasn’t around as much as I would have liked, working many weekends in the Air National Guard, attending schools, and travel for work. The important stuff is the big picture! As a dad, ask yourself these questions. Were you around? Were you a good example? Were you helpful but not over bearing? Did you do things together? Were you patient, allowing for mistakes and do-overs? Did you show you cared? Were you available when needed--even when they are adults? These are the important questions. Better yet, they are important goals to set as a new father!