Profiles of People: The Giver
Christmas is, by all accounts, the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. However, unless one searches the baby out through religion, I contend that Christmas can blow right by and the birth of one small boy will not be acknowledged. This is not always the case, of course, and the story of Christianity does not constrain itself to just one day.
Mike Wilson is not someone who seeks out organized religion, but he finds directionality from reading the Bible all year long.
It is very important to Wilson to have a personal relationship with God through reading his Bible.
A teacher and carpenter, Wilson views Christmas as a “time to celebrate your traditions as a culture.” He sees it as “how people have very awkwardly celebrated Christmas over the years.”
He loves watching “A Christmas Story,” and especially enjoys that one line from the movie: “You’ll shoot your eye out!” This is somewhat funny as we sat below the huge elk his grandfather shot in the 1940s, which ironically has one eye shot out. His humor about Christmas and its trappings has to have come in part from decades of teaching in our public schools, which he says he still loves doing so every day.
Wilson spent quality years teaching in Sultan, Snohomish and Everett. He has taught government and history and coached at Cascade High School since 1995. Still enthused and positive about his role in life
as a molder of minds, a mentor, coach and counselor of young people, Wilson also has recently embraced the arts. He makes sets and helps with the drama performances at his school.
At 60, he’s not slowing down and not giving up, Wilson instead embraces the opportunities presented to him that might enrich students’ lives.
Wilson remains curious and that makes him interesting to others. His greatest love is paying attention to his cherished wife, Cindy, his two sons and his grandchildren. He feels that his wife is the best thing that ever happened to him. He also enjoys fly fishing, camping, reading, woodworking, beer brewing, and now theater drama. But listening to him, you can tell that teaching and telling the stories of our ancestors is very important
to this man, not just in the telling, but in the importance of our history not
being lost to others.
Born in the Yakima Valley, Wilson grew up with Depression-era age parents and five older brothers and sisters on a few acres. The vegetables Mom grew wasn’t a garden, it was a substantive food source year-round. Preparing, planting, canning, storing wasn’t for fun. It was for survival. The one-eyed elk head, the one his grandfather shot, still hangs
proudly, was one of many killed so the family could eat something besides the vegetables they had grown. It watches over patrons eating and drinking with abandonment and waste.
Life was good for Mike as a boy. His mother and father were musicians, and after a long day working in the sawmill, his father might pull out an instrument. His mom would grab hers and the family would play and sing to relieve boredom and enjoy each other’s company. Wilson has seen an old ledger showing that his Dad had earned $11 at a grange one day playing for others.
Wilson remembers with a laugh one story from childhood where Mom and Dad were gone and he
instigated a water fight that escalated into a hose fight inside the house. Luckily, an older brother realized Mom would be home shortly and they would be in big trouble. So the children improvised and took all the rugs out to hang, mopped the floors, dusted and told their Mom they had cleaned the house for her. She was delighted!
Wilson remembers many fun times like that, which is good because he also remembers at age 16 he and his father working on their Jeep. His beloved Dad had a heart attack and died. Mike tried to save him, but could not. He’s appreciative of having had a two parent household for as long as he did. He feels strongly that this model helps children.
Every day he thanks God for his two sons and that he and Cindy are able, as old as he and she are, to still parent them together. He says, “You’re never done being a Dad or Mom.”
Wilson contends that “teaching is pleasurable because at my core I am a giver.” He adds that “too much power in the hands of any individual can be a concern, and just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” And, he said, “politics are necessary because it is a vehicle for compromise.” He likes people to be thinking of others.
Wilson would like the edifice of his career to be a woodworking bench he is currently making. The top of the piece is wood taken from Eastern Washington, representing his childhood, and the bottom structure is made up of old bleacher seats representing his life this side of the mountains as a teacher. It is going to be a beautiful piece I believe. I saw a picture. And at this time of Christmas the association of the little child who became the man who teaches and does carpentry, and whose purpose in life is to be a caring individual speaks in a whisper about the true meaning of Christmas if we listen.
Patricia Therrell’s column runs monthly.
To suggest someone for Profiles of People, email the Tribune at email@example.com or call the editor at 360-568-4121 x122.
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