Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Portrait of a Friend

Mike Herder
Personal Friend
Keller, TX
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.

Some friends truly are there for you forever. Mike Herder is one of those friends. By most caste standards, Mike and I should never have met let alone had the opportunity to fraternize. At the time we met, Mike was my wife's boss and held a prestigious position with a major Fortune 500 company in nearby Las Colinas. From the very first time I heard about Mike, I knew that I would like to meet him.

Like me, Mike was born in New York and had lived in Connecticut, my home state. What intrigued me about Mike was his rapier wit and his raw NYC humor. Mike's voice was a mixture of Barnie on the Flinstones and the cowardly lion of the Wizard of Oz. Mike could make me laugh.

Although Mike has been a "big" man most of his life, the biggest thing about Mike has become his heart. After a major corporate reduction in force nearly fifteen years ago, Mike  managed not only to tread water but to also become quite adept at surviving and maneuvering in turbulent seas.

We met and truly became friends in 1990. He was walking his dog "Huggy Bear", a happy go luck retriever mix with a passion for wading in all things moist including septic ponds. I had just had been laid off and we were in the middle of a short recession triggered by the first Gulf War. Things were tough and my mother-in-law was losing her struggle with colon cancer. Nothing seemed to be going right. I rolled down the window of my car and greeted Mike. Mike stopped and smiled happy to chat. Before I knew it, he invited me to go flying with him the next day.

Before, I realized what was going on, I said yes. The next day we hopped on a Cessna 182 and flew around west towards Bridgeport and back to Northwest Regional north of Roanoke. For a moment, we rose above all of our anxieties and fears. When we landed, Mike looked at me and said "we laugh at death again." For whatever reason(s), I found that expression to be comforting.

By mastering flight school, Mike himself learned to face many fears including those that he would face down the road. He knew that within him he had the ability to soar above them all. Since then, Mike has continuously reminded me that I have the same potential. We challenge ourselves and rise to the occasion as required by our circumstances.

This morning, as I think about what I am grateful for, I add to my list a handful of friends who are like Mike. These friends are not only standing by you when things are good but also during the rough patches. They are like beacons on the shore helping us navigate the waters to safety.

1 comment:

  1. Brass section, slide guitar and string orchestra...

    Chris Rea's exquisite understanding of life



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