No. 638



Over the past several months I have gotten to know a terrific writer who lives in Kearney, Nebraska. His name is Mike Finkner and he is not a writer by trade, he is a medical doctor who has spent most of his life and practice in the Emergency Room. In a sense, Mike is like a modern-day Hawkeye Pierce, because he has more talent as a writer in his little finger than most of us do who work at it. Mike has always aspired to write, but the nine years it took to become a doctor, and later his practice, took all or at least most of his time. Now at age 58, with a reduced schedule, he is beginning to make his mark in writing, one that I predict will continue.
Mike and his wife Kathy raised four children, a boy and three girls, who have all left the nests. The “doc” likes to consider himself a Christian, though probably wouldn’t be considered an “A” student. He enjoys fishing, hunting, running (more than 50 miles each week), shopping with his wife and family activity. Alcohol is not required for him to achieve “enlightenment” or “escape.” God fills in admirably. And who smokes and runs? Mike says he is often misunderstood. But once he throws in with you, your back is forever covered, no matter the risk to him personally. One can always count on him.
After getting to know this man, I have found that Mike has many personal qualities I admire greatly. First and foremost is his commitment to God and to his family. He has his priorities right, which is really the basis for his writing. At this point, he has written two books, and I have read and enjoyed them both. The first is titled, “Letters from Grandpa Mike: Who Loves Ya Baby Spencer?” Spencer is Mike and Kathy’s first grandchild. To be sure, Dr. Mike Finkner is a word merchant. You would not believe his vocabulary and his ability to express himself.
What the “doc” has done that is so unusual, at least to me, is write letters to his grandchild while still in the womb. He not only writes letters, he uses dashes and different forms of punctuation to indicate the voice of the child who is responding, however briefly. In most cases, each chapter or letter will stand on its own, and Mike covers the waterfront in a moving, humorous and passionate way. I can’t begin to do justice to this man’s ability. This is one of those cases where you can’t explain to someone what it was like, unless they were there.
His second book is titled, “Letters from Grandpa Mike: Who Loves Ya Baby Hailley?” and the outline is basically the same. However, in this book Mike gives the date of writing and the week of gestation. I might point out that in the course of writing some of his letters he uses words and phrases that I would not use, but taken in context they are very mild and very appropriate. We should never be so heavenly minded that we are not earthly good.
At this point, I wanted to give you a sample of some of Mike’s writing, but when I got to looking for something that I considered representative, I gave up. Have you ever seen a 10-hour highlight reel? That’s the task I faced.
Dr. Mike Finkner and his wife Kathy are wonderful people. They have raised four successful children and now have two grandchildren. The letters in his books take the reader through the trials and tribulations of getting to this point in their lives in a moving and humorous way, one that will keep you spellbound. To not own them you would have to be considered “underprivileged.” They are very inexpensive and can be ordered by going to his Web site: and clicking on the link.
The more I think about Dr. Finkner’s letters to his unborn grandchildren, the more I realize what a great idea this is. Long after Mike and his wife Kathy have departed this life, his children and grandchildren will have memories all written down in a most unique style they will treasure forever. Who could be so lucky? I also thought about the people who read my column and would appreciate these books for a variety of reasons. If you like to play Scrabble or work crossword puzzles, these books will definitely sharpen your vocabulary. If you like sports, hunt, fish, or have a farm background, you will be impressed.
Mike has a great sense of humor and in one chapter his description of his high school football days reminded me of the rookie pitcher who was struggling on the mound. So the catcher walked out to have a talk with him.
“I’ve finally figured out your problem,” he told the young southpaw.” You always seem to lose control at the same point in every game.” “When is that?” asked the kid?” The catcher said, “Right after the National Anthem.”
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)