The month of July is now just hours away and I am preparing to meet my good friend and mentor, Dr. Jim. I first met Jim when he was instructing a Dale Carnegie class on a night both of us still talk about twenty three years later. He later told me that I was either going to be a strong student or a trouble maker. Here is my side of the first encounter...
It was St. Patrick's Day, 1987. My friend Laurel and I decided to check out this Dale Carnegie class which is designed to help you become better at communicating as well as improve human relations. At the front of the class was Dr. Jim. He was sharply dressed. The class of about fifty donned mostly business attire while Laurel and I flashed green hats with matching green suspenders. The only thing missing was my dad's "world famous" shillelagh (click here to find out more about his walking stick).
Jim and his team of GA's (that is, graduate assistants who wanted to come back for a double-dose) did not know what to think about this odd-looking couple. My thoughts kept drifting to the St. Patrick's Day celebrations going on at a pub nearby. One of the GA's, Mike, impressed me with a memory technique he used to learn everyone's first and last names (that's fifty first and last names in less than sixty minutes). Interesting, I thought... this class looks like something worthwhile. I shook Jim's hand and headed out for some green beer, excited to return the following week for more fun.
I met my future wife while I was attending this class and brought her to my graduation night. I guess the class fulfilled it's mission...improve human relations. My instructor told me, you don't take the class, you live it. After graduation, I became a GA and these people became part of my inner circle.
When I left Phoenix twenty one years ago...Jim showed up at my home a couple of weeks later just as I was departing for a cousin's wedding. I gave him the keys to my new home and told him, "mi casa es su casa". My new bride was honking the horn...time to leave my friend and his family on Mulligan mountain. I told him, come back next summer and we'll do it again. This has been going on every July since 1989.
We always go to a Padres baseball game and dinner. His two boys are now grown adults and his wife looks as beautiful as she was the first day I met her. There have been times visiting Jim when I have seen the sunrise before getting home.
Yes, July with Jim is almost here. I thank him for giving me permission to use his first name here and for being one of the first to review my manuscript before it goes to press. After much classroom time, he has earned the right to be called doctor, an achievement he pursued over the years that we have been friends. I am thankful that he has agreed to offer his opinion of my book and his words will be on the back cover.
One of my favorite memories of "July with Jim" was one evening after dinner. His youngest son was about five and he whispered a question into my ear, "Are you and Helen going to have relations tonight?" I paused..."I don't know, ask Helen." Then my friend and his family departed. His youngest son had a big smile on his face as he watched me and my wife drive away.
May your life be Blessed with friends like my buddy, Jim, and his family. He is right about what he said, "you don't take the course, you live the course." I will launch my book on the 24th anniversary of our first meeting in the Dale Carnegie class. It will also be my daughter's 18th birthday and Zoom's 6th birthday. Thank you, Jim, for all you continue to teach me and for being my friend on this roller coaster we call life. See you in July...