Hola everyone. I’m trying to stick to a steady schedule of cranking on the rest of my new book with my deadline looming, so Elon Werner has stepped up to the plate again to file a new blog for all of us.
It’s a great installment, all about how proud a father can be when it comes to his kids. He should be proud. Abby and Nicholas are two amazing young people. Barbara and I flew down to Dallas a couple of years ago (seems like yesterday) to attend a party at the Werner home, and we were absolutely amazed by them. So thoughtful, collected, and willing to spend time with two “old folks” like us. They are the product of outstanding upbringings.
Family is a key part of life. Although we have no human children (Boofus and Buster are our kids) we understand the value of family. This past weekend, we were honored and thrilled to have Barbara’s brother Tim and his wife Kelly in Woodbury with us, to celebrate Barbara’s birthday. It was marvelous and incredibly valuable. Great people, and priceless family members.
Tim and I joined my buddy Terry for what was supposed to be a round of golf on Monday. It was exactly that for them. What it was for me I can’t explain. A few good (lucky) shots here or there, but basically the worst nine holes I’ve played since I was 12 years old. Just awful. I stopped keeping score when the row of numbers that never wavered off of 7 or 8 nearly filled the scorecard. And now my back is killing me, so that’s my penance for playing so badly. I stunk. Not as badly as the Minnesota Twins right now, but I stunk it up.
So here’s Elon’s story about his wonderful children. Enjoy!
And if you like it, please click on the “Like” button at the bottom.
See you next week. I hope to have at least two or three new chapters “in the can” by then.
Hello everyone! Elon here. It’s been a busy two weeks for me as I have been hitting the open road. Shockingly, the hectic pace was not work related. Thanks to my flexible work schedule, I was able to make a couple of road trips to celebrate a major accomplishment for my daughter Abby and move my son Nicholas out of his dorm in Washington DC.
Two weeks ago Abby wrapped up her internship in Washington DC as part of her Strategic Communications degree program at Mizzou (University of Missouri – Columbia). She spent the semester working for Growing Hope Globally, a non-profit focused on connecting farmers in our country with farmers in developing countries to help find solutions to hunger issues. She worked with the marketing team on their social media messaging and strategy. She enjoyed the work and the people and she was pleasantly surprised to be asked to stay on over the summer as a virtual paid intern.
Midway through the semester she was contacted by an honor society on campus, letting her know that she was being considered for induction into one of Mizzou’s “secret” honor societies. This was not a “Skull and Bones” type secret society but rather a national organization focused on high academic achievement and volunteerism.
In early April, Abby was notified she had indeed been accepted and there would be an in-person induction ceremony on Mizzou’s campus on April 30. Luckily, that worked out perfectly with Abby’s internship schedule and she was able to attend. My wife and I were also able to attend and we made the 10-hour drive from Dallas to Mizzou the day before.
The day of the ceremony was a picture perfect “Chamber of Commerce weather” kind of day. We grabbed some breakfast with Abby and her boyfriend Adam at a cool joint just off campus and then we took a stroll, just taking in the scene. It was great to see students on the quad studying and relaxing. They did the society inductions in waves and Mortar Board, the 100+ year old society Abby was being inducted into, didn’t hold their ceremony until after lunch. We made the obligatory stop at the campus book story and picked up some gear because you can never have enough Mizzou t-shirts, pull-overs or now swim suits.
We arrived at Jesse Hall just in time to give Abby a hug and then she disappeared to get ready for the ceremony. The day was officially called Tap Day and the tradition was no one knew who was being “tapped” until this ceremony. They would be revealed during the special ceremony and they would work as a group on various philanthropic and volunteer projects without any additional fanfare. Prior to Abby’s induction they recognized the 2020 class who did not get an in-person ceremony last year due to Covid-19. A number of the inductees came back and it was quite impressive to hear where they had landed after they left Mizzou. The university is recognized as the top journalism school in the country and it showed in the jobs many of these recent graduates had landed. They were already working for The New York Times, Buzz Feed, Time magazine and the State Department just to name a few key gigs.
The president of Mortar Board began with a brief explanation about the organization and then she began the introductions. We did not know when Abby would be “tapped” but it was anti-climactic when the first person the president spoke about was introduced as a Mansfield, Texas resident. The description of Abby’s accomplishments and what the professor that nominated her said about here made my proud dad heart swell. She has quite the giving spirit and it was great to see her hard work being recognized.
Following the ceremony there were group photos taken and then each inductee was able to take a few photos with the ceremonial Mortar Board gavel. It was quite a piece of hardware and, as you can imagine, there were some fun photos taken. I was hoping they treated the gavel as a traveling trophy like the Stanley Cup, and every inductee would be able to have it for a day, but alas that was not part of the tradition. I can only imagine how much fun our neighbors would have had with the huge gavel. We could hold the Kangaroo Court of all Kangaroo Courts.
We took Abby and some of her friends to dinner that night and the next day we drove her home for the summer. We rehashed the ceremony and her plans for the summer while we were on the road. It was a great day of just chatting and getting caught up.
The following weekend, I flew to Washington DC to help my son Nicholas move out of his dorm at George Washington University. He was able to be on campus this spring semester even though all his classes were still online. He made the most of the experience by getting to know the urban campus and also connecting with some of his Marine ROTC buddies. He is pursuing a degree in International Affairs at the Elliott School and following graduation he will join the Marines as an officer.
Nicholas had all his gear packed up and we were able to load it on Saturday night after I landed so we could get an early start back to Texas on Sunday morning. In case you haven’t figured it out, I love to drive. The next morning Nicholas checked out of his dorm and we hit the road. It was a nice but rainy drive through Virginia to Tennessee and into Arkansas on the first day. We drove by Bristol Motor Speedway and it was good to see the track. We will be back at Thunder Valley in mid-October for NHRA racing, which was welcome news this week as well. The drive across Tennessee was uneventful and it turns out we tempted fate as we crossed from Tennessee to Arkansas.
Earlier this week just two days after we crossed the Mississippi River on I-40 west the bridge we used was closed due to a huge crack on the underside. I don’t know what we would have done if we would have rolled up and that bridge had been closed. On the first day we made it from DC to Little Rock and we pulled into the Holiday Inn Express parking lot at 11:30 p.m. I did most of the driving with Nicholas giving me a break in the middle. We had a sweet Dodge Caravan minivan for the one-way rental.
The only issue with the trip was the van pick-up after I landed at Ronald Reagan National Airport. It may come as a shock but I don’t have any credit cards. I have a business debit card and a personal debit card. Before the pandemic I was very much a “cash only” guy. More than ten years ago my family went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace program at our church and we dug ourselves out of a ton of consumer debt in just under two years. One of Ramsey’s main directives was to minimize and really eliminate any and all credit. I only ran into issues with this caveat when it came to renting cars it seemed. I have been able to work around it with most rental car companies by having them put an additional couple hundred dollars on hold during the rental period. On this trip, since it was a one-way rental, I found out at the counter that I had to have a credit card to pick up the van. There was no way for them to charge me right there on my debit card in advance of the rental. They had to swipe a card to release the van.
After a series of phone calls I was able to connect with my lifelong friend Max Finberg who lives in DC. He graciously stopped what he was doing on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. and drove to the airport so the rental car company could swipe his credit card. They didn’t charge him anything, they just had to swipe a card. We caught up for a few minutes and then he went back to his family and I headed to meet Nicholas. As far as hiccups go it was minor, but at the time highly frustrating.
The two-day drive with my son was magical. We talked about his plan for the next three years at George Washington as well as his career plans after graduation. He talked excitedly about his commitment to the Marines and the opportunities in front of him. The Marines are very pro-education and encourage their officers to pursue master’s degrees, law degrees and even doctorates. Nicholas’ immediate goal is to become a Marine aviator and then possibly pursue a career in academia. It was very cool to hear him talking so enthusiastically about his future.
In the immediate future he will be heading to San Diego soon for four weeks on-base as part of Marine Month. The program, he explained, was part classroom instruction and part physical exercises, including machine guns and helicopters. I can’t wait to hear the stories about that.
My kids are turning into amazing adults right in front of my eyes. Time has flown by so the chance to have them trapped in a car or van for hours on end was a welcome opportunity. The open road is fantastic and I can’t wait for the next time I get the chance to head out on the highway.
Embrace your family. Hug your kids. Treasure the time you have.
Thanks for reading. -Elon