The Heart of Kernersville

By NJ Clausen

Greetings to all, and Happy Father’s Day to all those who embraced the responsibility of the role. Summer is upon us, and for many, gardens are reaping the rewards of your labor. This month I would like to introduce you to a man who enjoys his family and his garden, Michael Flanagan.

The descendant of immigrants from Ireland, Michael was born and raised in a suburban area of New York. The oldest of three children, Michael remembers riding his bike to catch the train that would take him to the city. He and his brother were always together, although very different in temperament. They would go on adventures together, exploring the nearby wooded area. Michael enjoyed solitary time, playing with a soccer ball, reading a book, or playing with the Star Wars action figures. Some of his happiest and greatest childhood memories were formed at a beach house that his family and extended family rented for many summers, and where Michael’s father helped him get his captaining license. 

In high school, Michael’s love of reading and writing made English his favorite class. After school, he played soccer and studied martial arts. Michael described how the Sensei taught them about discipline, forgiveness, and self-defense.

After high school, Michael went to a state school located by the Canadian border, which was 8 hours away from his home. Although he enjoyed working in the radio station, Michael realized that this was not a good fit for him, and he transferred to a community college where he earned his AA in liberal arts with a focus on psychology. With the goal of attaining his full degree, Michael moved to Louisiana and went to LSU. After just a short time in Baton Rouge, his father had a heart attack and Michael returned home to care for him. After a year, Michael returned to Baton Rouge and resumed his education. While in school, Michael worked in the restaurant business, managing, bartending, food preparation… and he was also a bouncer! He left food service for a higher paying job, but wanted to do something special as well, and started boiling crawfish for college friend groups. It became very popular, and grew to include big circus tents, taps for kegs of beer, lighting, and crawfish. Every year, Michael and his friend Kelly would throw a St. Patrick’s Day Crawfish Boil, and it was at the one in 2003 that he met his future wife Jennifer, who was also attending LSU. They started talking and have hardly been apart since that time. Michael smiled as he talked about proposing to Jennifer in the Kisatchie National Forest, as there was great excitement and happiness… followed by remembering that there was a big game they had to get back to see! The celebration did continue with friends, pizza, chocolate covered strawberries, and champagne.

Michael and Jennifer married and started a family. His desire to serve people and community had him pursuing additional studies for a nursing degree, however an accident at his workplace which required extensive surgery prevented him from continuing with his class. In 2012, the family relocated to Kernersville with their two boys to be closer to family after Michael’s father passed away. They stayed with Michael’s mother for a time until they found the right house for their growing family. Michael likes the rural, community feeling of his neighborhood and the close relationships they have with their neighbors. 

The family likes to hike, camp, go fishing, take pictures…and after a recent trip to Ocean Isle they are going to try and take more beach trips. Michael is very supportive and proud of his three sons, and shared that time together includes: music, gaming, art, gardening, as well as other activities. Michael and Jennifer had a large basket filled with cotton balls, little trinkets, googly eyes, paper, crayons, paint and would tell the boys to go to town and get creative. They did not prevent computer time, but they did encourage other pursuits.

Michael loves being a dad, and he wants to share his knowledge and time with his boys. To new fathers out there, he urges them to cherish their children every minute of every day—they get old way too fast and grow up before your eyes. All that matters is you see them happy, healthy, and leading a good life.

To family, friends and neighbors, Michael says he loves you all! He is grateful for the community he lives in, and all the know-how and knowledge that everyone shares with each other. Opening your heart and enjoying the outdoors is his wish for everyone.

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