We Were Boys

His name was Frank Langstrom III, but to me he was always, and will forever be Mike.  We became friends when we were both five, after my family moved from Bethesda, Maryland to Birmingham, Michigan.  He and I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone was safe, all the adults were our parents, and every house was a home.

We were boys, so we liked to make lots of noise, blow things up, shoot things in random directions, build stuff, explore, get dirty, and play.    It is amazing that we survived with all of our limbs and digits, because we liked to play with fireworks that were real explosives, and tried to make them even more powerful.  There were a number of mailboxes and trash cans in our neighborhood that ended up being unsuitable for their original purposes.

Later we took wood and pipes and made homemade cannons that were surprisingly accurate.  Many plastic models were constructed with built-in explosives so we could film them exploding.  From match heads and ballpoint pen rockets to some relatively large and powerful missiles we graduated to some pretty amazing vehicles.  More than a few small creatures had the rides of their short and unconventional lives due to our work.  And, there were a few automobiles that had unexplained dents in them from minor guidance inaccuracies.

We made model trains, small-engine aircraft, and built and listened to ham radios.  We constructed a sound-powered telephone system between our houses.  We learned to shoot BB guns to pellet rifles to guns.  More than once Mike’s father angrily complained about some projectile whizzing by him or his house.  We built the infamous Goodbye-Grackle machine that was a marvel of ad-hoc engineering and complex ostentatiousness.

As we got older we got telescopes to explore the heavens and cameras to film our lives.  We bought motorcycles together and expanded our travels.  But we also loved being home, playing bridge or poker or other games.  He loved to be vague about the rules until he won, or sometimes just cheated.  With a grin. 

He and I shared so many interests, but we were different in so many ways, as well.  Mike liked to talk me into doing something while he would hang back, and laughing as I – usually – got into trouble.  I would scheme and he would build; I would talk and he would think; I would lead and he would watch.  I never met a smarter person, or a quicker wit.  His sense of humor never quit, and he could use the saltiest of language but never leave you feeling insulted.  Every time I think of something quirky I see his little smirk, and smile.

But, underneath his dark humor and clever asides, he cared and supported and helped – but never in any way that drew attention to himself.  When I broke my jaw he kept an eye on me at school so I wouldn’t get injured further.  When I broke my leg he was the one that carried my books, got his father to drive me to school, and kept me company wherever I went so I wouldn’t break my other leg.  As our careers took us further apart he was the most supportive when I had to deal with adversity.  And, at unexpected times he would send me or email me something that would make me laugh, and look at life differently.

He got involved with the charities of the Wilson brothers (of Beach Boys fame) and donated significant time and money working judiciously in the background.  Upon hearing of his passing the Carl Wilson Foundation honored him.

And, he made it part of his life to help his family far beyond what could be expected.  Even though sudden cancer claimed him, his final battle was valiant, and he never will finish that article on why kamikaze pilots bothered to wear helmets.

In all, in so many ways he was the best a friend could be.  And through it all, from childhood to the end, we were boys.   Requiescat in Pace, Mike


Last Competition

by Doug Magill

Edisto Beach lies south of Charleston, and has a reputation for being undeveloped and out-of-the-way.  The locals call the pace there, Edis-slow.  It was a perfect place for my two brothers, my sister and I to gather in late September to connect, spend time together and celebrate our now aging family. 

Late in our week together my older brother Bob and I played golf on the Tom Jackson-designed Plantation Course on the island, and my younger brother Tom joined us – though he couldn’t play.  It was especially poignant, as Tom has been an avid – some might say obsessive – golfer since childhood.  He carried a 6 handicap for a while, and had a smooth and powerful swing.  He and I would compete intensely against each other every fall when we got together, just because we were brothers.

The Plantation Course is a lush and winding delight, with water hazards – it seemed – on every hole.  The Par 3 3rd at is a gently sloping 142-yard hole, with traps guarding the approach.  Tom asked if he could play this one hole with us, borrowing my rental clubs.  I outdrove him with a nice, arcing 8-iron that happily found the trap in front of the green.  Tom’s swing was awkward, creaky and bouncy, but his ball made it out about 120 yards.

Tom was thin, pale, and had an old man’s gait, due to the rod in his leg from the cancer that had caused part of his femur to be taken.  His hip hurt, he had trouble breathing due to the cancer in his chest and he had scars from chest surgery.  He also recently had surgery on his jaw due to calcification from the radiation treatments for his neck cancer.  His swing was a shadow of what it once was, but he was still in the fairway.

My second shot didn’t clear the trap, and Tom’s looked like one of his normal chip shots onto the green.  His short game was always better than mine, as he had learned long ago that chipping and putting saved his game –  and he worked at it.  When we competed I usually won, as I found that negotiating strokes beat technical skill any day, and Tom would be overconfident and lose angrily.  There’s nothing else like competition between brothers.  But, in the last few years that changed, as he learned to negotiate to how I played and began winning more often. 

Three years ago Tom was diagnosed simultaneously with neck and kidney cancer.  His kidney was removed immediately, and he began radiation and chemotherapy for his neck cancer.  It was horrific, and left him weakened, scarred, and without taste or salivary glands.  He endured, with grace and humility.  And, he never complained, or felt sorry for himself.  He later developed jaw problems that required multiple surgeries which left him unable to open his mouth very well.

I finally found the green and two-putted.  My little brother had two putts as well.  His grin was pure Tom, and for that moment there was joy, and we were brothers just playing golf.  And as he laughed he said, “You know, Doug, if this thing gets me you’ll be the youngest, but I’ll always be the favorite.”  And so it is.

Tom died a week later due to complications from the kidney cancer that had invaded his lungs.  Now, the final scorecard reads, Tom 4, Doug 5, in our last competition.  So, for the rest of my life there will be no rematch, but every game of golf I will play from now on I will see Tom’s grin at besting me once more.  Wherever he plays now, may his swing be supple and true, the fairways long, the rough high, the sand fine and the greens fast.  Requiescat in Pace, Tommy.

6 Right Surprise

By Doug Magill

Embarrassment is where growth happens. Jaylen Brown

“Cessna one-niner-two-niner Foxtrot cleared touch-and-go Runway 6 right.”

The Burke Lakefront tower controller’s voice was crisp and authoritative.  I loved that professionalism, and my ability to be part of a brotherhood where the rules were clear, communication precise and expectations high.

I acknowledged the clearance with my own crisp “two-nine Fox” and reduced power, lowered the flaps and went through my pre-landing checklist.

There are few things more enervating than a clear fall afternoon and being able to fly.  I had departed Cuyahoga County airport after doing a few touch-and-go landings there.  County was a busy airport and had a lot of corporate traffic.  At this time they were doing repairs to the main runway for a few weeks so I was using the taxiway to take off and land, which required a great deal of precision. 

Having recently soloed, every flight alone was an experience, every landing a success, and every moment aloft a paean to an inexpressible sense of freedom and the joy of perspective that few people get to have.

The flight to Burke Lakefront airport was a few minutes as both fields were close together.  Burke was along the north shore of Cleveland and was a great place to practice touch-and-go landings as there were always crosswinds.  I wanted to increase my level of professionalism and become proficient at crosswind landings.  Today was a perfect day for it. Maybe a 20 degree crosswind at 8 to 10 knots.  A great combination, strong enough to be challenging, below the threshold of dangerous.  With northeasterly winds my landing patterns would be over the lake which was beautiful, and gave a great view of the city. 

Crosswind landings are and essential skill if you want to do any cross country excursions in an airplane.  While airports are aligned with the prevailing winds in their location, rarely are the winds exactly down the runway.  It’s a great test of airmanship, and requires constant adjustments of ailerons, rudder and elevators.

Once power has been reduced and a stabilized descent established there are two ways to nail a crosswind landing.  Crabbing is the simplest and most often used by new pilots.  It requires turning the nose towards the wind so the plane is not being blown off track with the runway, using fine adjustments of the controls to keep the line of flight aligned with the runway while the nose may be pointed offline.  The plane kind of heads sideways, like a scuttling crab,  at an angle over the ground until reaching the runway.  At the point of touchdown the rudder is kicked over and the plane straightened to the runway before landing.  Straighten too soon and your craft will be blown off track away from the runway and you’ll have to go around – or land in the field next to the runway.  An embarrassing and potentially expensive ending to any flight.

The professional way of landing in a crosswind is to lower the windward wing and track straight with the runway.  This requires a constant symphony of adjustments to controls to keep the runway aligned and the plane under control.  Crosswinds are never constant, and the windward wing will be constantly moving.  It allows a precision approach and shows professionalism.  Once over the runway at the right time – if everything aligns – you can put the plane down, tracking straight with the runway – on the windward wheel before gently levelling off on all 3 wheels on a tricycle-gear craft.

The crosswinds were kind, my feeling of aircraft control was excellent, and my descent – if charted out – was smooth.

One of the difficulties of learning any new skill is getting the picture of everything that is going on: you are attuned to changes, oblivious to distractions and feeling in control.  The hard part is not obsessively focusing on one or two things at the expense of all components of the aircraft.  It’s called situational awareness, and as a pilot you have to have it – seeing the sky around you, watching for obstructions on the runway, hearing the engine, managing descent with the throttle, feeling the wind and anticipating minute changes to bank angle to keep the nose aligned while listening to the tower frequency and preparing for takeoff after a touch-and-go.  It’s easy to focus on the immediate issue: speed, rate of descent alignment with the runway – while letting other things move to the background.

Anyone who has ever played football knows it – that feeling of getting the picture amidst noise, contact, mistakes and following what the play is designed to do.  It takes a while, and it isn’t always there.  Quarterbacks know it best as they have to be aware of their blocking while scanning the field and looking off defensive backs while simultaneously avoiding potential tacklers.

Pilots have to have the picture at all times, because the result of poor situational awareness can be deadly.

Crossing the runway threshold I was at a great altitude and into ground effect everything was perfect.  I chopped the throttle, heard the left wheel chirp, lowered the plane and immediately felt it rolling smoothly down the middle of the runway.  Flaps up, I added power and right rudder to counteract propeller torque and we were smoothly back into our natural element.

I was exultant and mentally slapping myself on my back for a great crosswind landing, hoping the controller was watching and nodding at the professionalism.

The radio crackled with an angry tone “Cessna 1929 Foxtrot you were cleared touch and go on runway 6 right, not the taxiway!”

My cheeks flushed, my ears burned and my heretofore feeling of professionalism shriveled into a tight ball of extreme embarrassment.  I had been so focused on the details of a crosswind landing that I had carried the sight picture of my taxiway landings at Cuyahoga County into my approach at Burke.  The taxiways looked the same.  I just was using my memory of the correct approach picture at one airport since the taxiway looked like what I was used to landing on.

I really wanted to shrink down, disappear into the plane and slink away – if a plane could slink.  But in the aviation business there was nowhere to hide and I could well be written up to the FAA which would put a long delay into any flying ambitions I had.  That also could have been really dangerous if there were another aircraft on the taxiway, or taxiing to it.  I was lucky, no one else was active at that time. 

Still, I wondered if there weren’t a few snickering pilots who were listening on the frequency.  Fortunately an aircraft call sign is not a clue to your identity without some detective work.

“29Fox – I, I..Uh, yeah.  I’ve been practicing at County and they’re using the taxiway so it just looked right.  My apologies….I’m still learning.”

“That’s obvious.  Cessna 29F cleared touch and go on runway 6 right, and this time let’s see you do it as well as you did last time except on the runway.”

There followed one of the tightest and most precisely executed crosswind, downwind and base-to final approaches ever seen.  I greased it on one wheel again – but on the runway -and was ready to hightail it back to County.

“29Fox, well done, and on the runway this time.  We’ll see you next time.”

“29Fox, thank you sir.”

I couldn’t wait to land back at County – on the taxiway – and find a nearby bar to lessen my shame for a while.  Still, shame is a good teacher, and the lesson of situational awareness was brought home in a very real and striking way.  Never to be forgotten, or repeated. 

I’ve used that story in speeches and in training employees.  There’s always one more thing to be aware of, and one more thing you may not be thinking about if you are too focused on the immediate task – or the immediate reward.  The lesson works in business, and in relationships.

Oh, and gratitude too.  I sent a note to the controller thanking him for being part of my learning process.  I suspect he knew my embarrassment was the only learning needed to become a better pilot.

Doug Magill is an instrument-rated pilot with over 1000 hours as pilot-in-command and 230 instrument hours.  He is a consultant, freelance writer, and voice-over talent and can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net.

Stone Laser Blues

by Doug Magill

It’s about time. I am headed back to the OR tomorrow morning.

Been a painful and uncomfortable 10 days.  Headed to the ER on the 23rd before dawn (so you know it was serious – the dawn and I are rarely friends).  Shuffled (literally) into the reception area, doubled over in pain from a kidney stone.  Admitted right away?  Hah, between bureaucracy, regulations insurance the receptionist had to take at least 10 minutes asking background questions – seriously; here I am, bent over, wiggling around because of bladder spasms, trying hard not to reach through the glass partition to acquire a good grip on her neck, answering tedious and repetitive questions about the medical history of my distant cousins during wartime and testing my memory of former girlfriends phone numbers.  Someone forgot to notify me of the new AMA pain tolerance pre-admission requirements test.

Once through that then we had to go through few other tests, including a CT scan, before they finally gave me some morphine.  I’m a middle child and fortunately God gave me patience…though I never expected it to be challenged this much.  Then via ambulance to the OR….stent inserted, some great pictures of the inside of my bladder.  Really, I could share them if you’d like.  Soon to be coffee table material for our next party.  Too much inflammation, have to wait for 10 days to get it to subside.

Been a really fun time.  Bladder spasms from the stent, serious flare ups from the kidney stone, not feeling like doing much….and of course, contractor activities in the house.  An aside – a couple days after my attack I had to decline a fishing trip with my friend Jeff who offered his sympathies, but two days after that he had a kidney stone attack.  “I didn’t know those things were contagious!”  Heh, talked to him later in the ER, he passed his, a measly 3mm stone.  Mine, of course, is 9mm.  A monster – go big or go home baby.  Real men have big ones.  Less than 5mm can be passed – mine, not so much.  No internal organ I have is big enough to pass that.

So tomorrow my friendly MD will go back in to blast the thing with a laser.  Should I worry that he is myopic?  I hope he has good aim.  I need to remember to ask him if he has occasional target practice.  I’d hate to hear him say, “oops, missed it.  That hole in the bladder isn’t too big, we can fix that.  Oh well, We’ll get it next time…..hah, well, OK right through the stomach that time.  Cool.  That’ll leave a mark!”  Sigh.  Remind me to have him show me his credentials in accurate laser blasting – no video game certificates, please. 

Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer, and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net

Song of the Sparrow

By Doug Magill

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Matthew 10

There are times when the definition of enterprise encompasses more than activities that are purely economic in nature.  It also applies to non-profit and charitable organizations that serve purposes that extend far beyond the realm of commerce.

For some people the development of an organization is driven more by love, and by necessity, than by desire.  And instead of remuneration, it may require investment in excess of return, but the rewards are peace of mind, and the knowledge that we are all better off for that effort.

Two of the finest people I know, Bob and Carol Magill, were driven to found His Eye Is On The Sparrow out of a deep understanding of the special needs of some children.  They hadn’t planned on founding a charitable organization, but the birth of their daughter, Krista, dramatically changed their world.

Born with Downs Syndrome, Krista today is a young adult.  But her mind will always be that of a two year old, with all of the complexities of life that accompany that condition.

And yet, Bob and Carol have never wavered in their love and commitment to their daughter as a gift from God.  For many parents the enormous emotional, spiritual, and financial challenges of a special needs child can become unbearable.  Bob and Carol have adapted and made it work.  From taking separate vacations to ensure Krista has been properly cared for, to special schools, to mind-numbing repetitive training of the simplest of tasks, they have never wavered.

Other than when she is sleeping, Krista can’t be left alone, and every day is a day of instruction and challenge.  She has learned some words and can communicate basic needs, but she will never look outside of her daily world of simple events.

When faced with the prospect that they may not always be able to care for her, Bob and Carol looked at options for long term care of special needs children.  Institutionalization scared them, as they recognized that Krista’s need for love was as basic as breath itself to her.  They also wanted a Christian environment which would cherish her special gifts and give her the dignity as a child of God that she deserved.

They were also fighting the headwinds of the current fad of immersion for special needs children.  At one point, at the direction of state officials Krista was placed with a regular grade school class.  She was lost, unable to comprehend, unable to participate, and disconnected from anyone who understood her or could relate to her.

Working with a friend, John Rolph, whose sister has special needs, Bob and Carol founded His Eye Is On The Sparrow in the late 1990s and received 501 (c) 3 status in 2003.  A number of committed and energetic women got involved as board members:  Alice Hartman, who had been an educator and had a special needs child; Judy Greenbaum, who has a special needs daughter; Sister Fran Depuydt, the dynamic head of Emmanual House and an MBA; and Carol herself, a nurse and a Physician’s Assistant along with being a wizard at the complex documentation required.

They shortly began looking at a house that could be adapted for the needs of these special children.  However, Kafka couldn’t have designed a more daunting and complex labyrinth than the agencies and bureaucracies that had to be dealt with in order to be licensed, and certified.  Dealing with two separate audits from state agencies that oversee such enterprises, Bob suggested that they perform their audits simultaneously – a concept which had not been previously considered.

The founders were required to respond to a number of government-required self-canceling twists of logic.  The involvement of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing helped solve issues with the property, and the local Catholic Social Services agency helped manage some of the administrative paperwork.

Finally, in 2007 the first Sparrow House was opened, to four children.

“I had no idea how difficult this was going to be!” Bob said.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow now has a second house and is looking at a third.  There is a lengthening list of waiting children whose parents are drawn to the caring and faith-based environment.    Of course, now another bureaucratic hurdle has to be overcome, as an accreditation procedure is required once more than five children are to be housed.  The depth (literally) of paperwork is astonishing.  Included are policies and procedures for a number of contingencies that are perhaps necessary with larger organizations, but a hefty burden for a small charity.

While state agencies help with some money for staffing and necessities, and Social Security helps defray the costs of housing, His Eye Is On The Sparrow is still struggling to make ends meet.  Bob and Carol know that they are affecting their ability to retire, but their financial commitment is as great as their emotional, and spiritual one.  Many of the parents have been generous, and Saint Joseph and Christ the King parishes have been enormously helpful with volunteers and furnishings.

Much is yet to be done.

The effects of such an organization on a community are well beyond those of just the children to be cared for, and the families who love them.  It affects all of those involved, from staff to volunteers to neighbors.  And it is humbling to see the gifts that are drawn out of those who truly believe in service as a necessary part of life by the lifelong challenges of these special needs children.

Bob and Carol know that Krista has had a dramatic impact on the life of her older sister, Katie, an honors graduate of the University of Michigan now working on a Masters degree in Counseling, and her younger brother, Sean, an attorney in Chicago.  On World Downs Syndrome Day – March 21 – Katie posted on Facebook for the world to see, “I can proudly and thankfully say that I am who I am because I have been blessed enough to share my life with a sister who has Downs.”

We are all enriched, and deepened by the challenges and blessings we receive when we have to deal with the unexpected vicissitudes of life.  Remember, when we look at enterprise, we are sometimes looking at the deepest and most profound aspects of our existence.

When the sparrow sings its final refrain, the hush is felt nowhere more deeply than in the heart of man.  Don Williams, Jr.

 His Eye Is On The Sparrow can be found at www.hiseyeisonthesparrow.org


Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer, and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net

My Father’s Gifts

by Doug Magill

You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love.  You have to deserve your father’s.  Robert Frost

Father’s Day precedes my birthday by a week. The juxtaposition of the two is a solemn reminder of what I owe to those that I call Father: God for the birth and death of his Son, and to Dad, for all that he has given me.

This last April he would have been 104, and it is hard to imagine Dad as that old, both because it is not the memory I have of him, nor is it the image.  As I grow older, the image seems to loom larger.  My own mortality seems to be growing larger behind me, and I have deeper thoughts these days about what I have been given, and what I have in turn bequeathed to those who follow me.

My oldest son and his wife are recent parents.  It is an amazing thing to become a grandfather, and its place among the hallowed moments of life is a blessing, and a clarion call to look at what has been provided and shared.

My father wasn’t big on gifts, though he did surprise me upon occasion with something special, and thoughtful.  As I write this there is a cabinet in my office he unexpectedly gave me to house the radio and music equipment I was either building or repairing in my nerd days when I was young.  He loved that I could do things with electronics that he couldn’t fathom.  It reminds me of him every day.

Yet, the most important gifts are those that have no place, but yet an enormous presence in our lives.

Dad grew up poor, in the outlands of Indiana.  One of those places those along our coasts fly over regularly without a thought of who those sturdy, hard-working and essential people are.  His parents went broke in the Great Depression and he had to live with relatives.  An embarrassment that stung him till his last days.  If one could guess where his drive, ambition to succeed and pragmatism came from it is that place and that searing shame.

He worked his way through college and then law school.  It is astonishing to think that he believed that a poor man’s son from Indiana could go to, and thrive at Harvard Law School.  Yet, he believed, and though he had to borrow money to make it work he graduated with honors and a belief that he could make a difference.  In those days there were not a lot of young men from Indiana at such places.

My father found employment at a bank and felt that would provide him a secure future. World War II intervened, and he felt the call of duty to his country.  He knew so little about the Navy, having never been in anything larger than a rowboat,  that he went to a recruiter hoping to be a petty officer.  The recruiter was astonished and convinced him that with a law degree the Navy could use him as an officer.  So, without training and little more than the Bluejacket’s Manual he was sent to Hawaii to serve in Naval Intelligence.

He later served in combat as Director of Fighter Operations aboard an aircraft carrier, learning to become Officer of the Deck during sea operations.  Something that amused him greatly given his lack of any previous maritime experience.

His career took him to a bank, then the Treasury department and eventually to General Motors.  He was a liberal then, I suppose, as he wasn’t sure he wanted to work for a corporation and be told what kind of car to drive.  As he rose in the hierarchy of GM he learned about politics and government, and became more conservative as he was exposed to the often corrupt connections between unions, government and the hypocrisy of politicians who espoused sympathy and altruism while mainly benefiting themselves.

Somewhere early in his life  he learned to be objective and steely-eyed about people, and developed an ability to work with those around him, no matter who they might be.  He never made racial jokes and believed, as perhaps only a failed farmer’s son could, that most people wanted to work and thrive, and the rest didn’t matter much.

He was tasked with forming the first organization in any major corporation focused on dealing with the ever -increasing power and regulation of government.  He called it Industry-Government Relations and it is common today, though many companies now follow practices he first established.

As his responsibilities grew, so did his department.  He hired a young executive to manage urban affairs – the relationship between GM and city and local governments. This young man also happened to be black and was one of the first minority executives in the auto industry.

In those days the GM building was across the street from the Fisher Building, and through an underground tunnel most GM execs would walk to lunch at an exclusive club in that building.  They would also hold events there and used it for special meetings.

Unfortunately that club didn’t allow minority members.  My father was astonished, annoyed and then angry.  He went – without authorization – to the board of the club and demanded that they admit his young executive or he would withdraw all GM business from the club.  GM was the majority of its customers, and they knew that they would be out of business if they didn’t have GM members.  They relented, and my father’s protege became the first minority member of that club, and indeed of just about any club in Detroit in those days.

Dad didn’t often talk about his role in things, or why this moment was so important.  He believed with every fiber of his being that a black man trying to make his way in business deserved the same consideration as any other young man.

Attitude and actions, he would tell me, are what really defines you as a man, and as a leader.  He didn’t preach about equality, or about minorities or about any career issues related to race or any of the other identity-politics buzzwords popular today.  His view was simple and direct: if you wanted to work hard, learn and grow, you deserved an opportunity.

My family grew up with that.  It was so much more effective than preaching and histrionics and fake anger that my siblings and I inculcated it without thinking or worrying about it.

That gift of seeing people as they are, without labels and adjectives and the panoply of mystic prisms that we are being told these days to evaluate people by is a gift.  A priceless one, and the source of great pride and honor among friends.

It has always been with me – this ability to see people for who they are.  I learned it well. There are many examples, but I recall one young manager who worked for me being dumbfounded that, after working for me for years, I didn’t realize he was Jewish.

More recently, I was blessed to be on a radio show with several friends: two gifted young men and a young woman.  I was the DOWG – the Designated Old White Guy – who didn’t know much about current musical trends and taste.  My proclamations, questions and confusion made for much hilarity among my partners on air, yet it made for good radio.

I am especially proud that we would occasionally get calls from middle-aged black people talking about that “cool white dude” and how he was the only non-racist Republican they knew.

There are many things that I know and respect about my on-air partners. Darvio is big, impressive, hard-working, smart, knowledgeable, loyal, bombastic, thoughtful……there are more.  Oh yeah, he’s black.

Andre is charismatic, creative, clever, funny, deep and eloquent – despite the Dali-esque things he does on top of his head with his hair.  Yep, he’s black too.

Friends don’t have labels.  And that is the most important part.

When I think of these two incredible young men I think of them as friends.  Not as black friends.  I suspect they think of me without adjectives too, though they might describe me in some interesting ways at times.

But I know this – if I needed their help or for them to have my back they would be there instantly, without question, and with the immediate loyalty of long-time friends.  That’s who they are, and it matters a lot more than an adjective that has little meaning other than an indication of appearance.  Not who they are.

We don’t often deserve the gifts that we receive.  Certainly the gift that Christ gave us with his death is beyond comprehension, and we are all humbled by the majesty of that sacrifice.

The gifts that my father gave me are humbling as well.  I am better for them, and I hope that some day, some way, that my children will be blessed by them as well.

Today I honor my father for who he was, and what he has left me.  When I think of my children and their children, I pray that what they feel they have received from me is equally important.  And, what I will be remembered for.

Dad- Age 4
Dad- Age 21 at Indiana University
Dad- USS Missouri
PR Associates Photo

Doug Magill is a former city councilman, a voice-over talent, freelance writer, and a former IT executive and consultant on organizational change and communications.  You can reach him at doug@magillmedia.net