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Mike Tasos: Watching the kids grow up is bitter sweet
Mike Tasos

Never mind what the folks in the big brick building on Dahlonega Highway say, tomorrow is the end of summer. 

Sorry. That’s the way it has always been and always should be.

We here in the South are so much better at so many things. But the folks up north have us beat six ways to Sunday. Holiday cookouts, family and maybe even baseball tomorrow. Then on Tuesday it’s cue up Chuck Berry singing: “Up in the morning and off to school…” 

Let’s talk through a few items before the leaves start changing and college football fans start chanting: “We’re No. 1!”

It’s an amazing transformation: The little kid who made me giggle when I was his coach, has somehow, six years later, become a man at 18. 

It was a wonderful Friday afternoon, sharing cigars, baseball memories and tales of boot camp with Jud Howard and his buddy, James Johnston. Both are local and shared stories of the rigors of basic training on Parris Island.

Jud’s nickname was Yogi, (an homage to the catcher, not the bear). I was Coach Mike. Whenever I needed a laugh back then, Jud didn’t disappoint. Ditto for last Friday.

With Parris Island in his rear view mirror, Jud and Brian are now both proud Marines. And both are off training at an undisclosed location. The that emerged from those grueling weeks on a South Carolina island is being honed and polished.

Cheech, Papa Kenny and I were amazed that we now look up to Jud. When did he get so tall?

After hearing about his experiences, we all agreed to also look up to these guys for what they have taken responsibility for: Making us breathe a little easier in times of crisis. Our great nation got a little greater.

When it was time to go, after cigars and amazing tales, I looked at Jud’s dad, Jon. He was uncharacteristically quiet, turning the floor over to the Marines. It’s hard to talk while listening and beaming.

Semper Fi, Jud, to you and all your fellow heroes.

•    •    •

Oldest son Chris hopped on a plane yesterday, and unlike Jud’s location, Barcelona was the known destination. He’ll be there until Dec. 19, studying Spanish and international marketing while traveling.

He’s armed with a journal I cannot wait to read. Maybe he’ll edit it as necessary. As Greg (a senior at Forsyth Central) and I were discussing the differences in family disclosure requirements between Cumming and Athens, I let him know that, after dialing up some college memories, there are activities I’d probably rather not know about.

It’s hard to believe that the tiny little peanut, who put his head on my shoulder 21 years ago in a Russian orphanage, is now an adult. 

Travel in Europe is cheap and I’m sure he’ll take plenty of pictures. 

You always want your kids to have it a little better than you did and it’s gratifying to work hard and accomplish that. 

It shall be a trying time here at Casa Tasos. Vicki is going to be hurting and so will I. Hopefully, she’ll take a mid-semester trip, meeting Chris in Rome. 

Just writing those words puts a smile on my face and a tear in my eye.

My saying: “We are only renting these kids,” once again is slammed home. From first words, first steps, first day of kindergarten, graduations, capped off with living on his own in Spain, it continues to be ride that puts a smile on my face, joy in my heart and wondrous amazement.

And like a good book that provided laughter and tears, I am excited about the next chapter to see where the story goes.

•    •    •

Finally, thinking about all the good folks who work hard to provide for their families, it makes no sense to do anything that supports the NFL. 

I’d feel the same way about the Braves, college football, the Irish, the Dawgs, the Tide, the NHL or the PGA. 

But no one there is kneeling. No clenched fists. No disrespect. 

Once again, someone should crack-back block Roger Goodell and have him remind his workers they are well-paid entertainers who should do their jobs and be grateful make money playing a sport. 

Don’t care about NFL players’ political views. Those who disrespect our flag, the national anthem or make political statements are slowly but surely eliminating their jobs.

Check the TV ratings. 

Or better yet, ask Jud and his buddies their thoughts. They are protecting us, doing what they are told, and have a vision of what “good” is.

The players, coaches and owners should be ashamed.

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. Editor Brian Paglia’s recent piece on local Marine, Ben Bramblett, who graduated with Jud and Brian, epitomized how a local newspaper is a most valuable player in our community. Comments can be sent to He is also on Facebook.