I can’t believe my 2nd son, Timothy James Messina, is 24 years old today! I was a labor and delivery nurse in the Air Force stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois when I became pregnant with Tim. Joe was about 15 months old and Rich was also in the Air Force and stationed in Columbus AFB, Mississippi, attending pilot training. We were having a really hard time trying to be assigned together and as I was working nights and parenting a toddler alone and pregnant…I decided being at home was the best bet for me. I was released from the Air Force and 3 months prior to Tim being born, I joined him in MS. It was H-O-T. Very hot. I don’t do heat well and wow, being pregnant didn’t help the heat. He was born on the first cool-ish day after a long hot summer. I had been suffering with horrible heartburn. I would chew trays of ice cubes a day…and still had heartburn. Tim was born with lots of long strawberry blonde hair. The nurses were amazed at how much hair he had! It was literally longer than mine! It hung down past his ears and down the back of his neck. Tim was born during the time when you were sent home 24 hours after the baby was born. My parents arrived when Tim was two days old and the first thing my dad said was, “That boy needs a haircut!” As the weeks went by the hair turned redder and redder….and nothing has changed. He still sports thick, firecracker red hair. He does have the temper to go with it….although he can be incredibly patient until he is pushed over the edge….then watch out. I remember when the boys were little, Joe, his older brother by 22 months, would push Tim’s buttons until he snapped. Joe would come running into the kitchen to hide behind me screaming, “He’s going to kill me!” and see Tim, face red and scrunched up in anger barreling after him, ready to do just that. Thankfully they get along a lot more than they disagree. When Tim was an infant, he would just watch everything around him. One of our friends said he had a “wise, old soul” and that was exactly what it seemed like. Tim was so inquisitive. His favorite time to quiz me on what he was wondering about was when we were in the car. He was obsessed about time. “How many minutes, seconds and hours until…..” That carries through to today where he plans out each of his days and gets pretty cranky if someone or something causes his schedule to go sideways. When he was two or three, he had a United States wooden puzzle that he would put together. I used to think it was hysterical that he would put in two pieces for Michigan (the mitten and the U.P.) and say, here is “Mish” and “Mish – again!” My father-in-law came to visit about that time and took the wooden puzzle and turned it over so it was just the wood side. He told Tim to put all 50 pieces together like that and he did. I will never forget what Rich’s dad said after that. “This kid is really smart and you are going to have your hands full keeping him occupied and learning.” He was so right! Tim listened to everything I was trying to tell his brother Joe (in kindergarten) about reading and writing and pretty much taught himself how to do both by the time he was turning 4. In preschool, Tim was really shy and so his teacher would help him by letting him read books to the class. He ended up skipping kindergarten and going into 1st grade…so he and his brother, Joe, were only one grade apart.
Tim was born in Mississippi, moved to Minnesota when he was about 9 months old, and then lived in North Dakota, Colorado, Okinawa – Japan, Norway, Nebraska, and then now he is back in Colorado. Tim has an affinity for languages as he did really well in his partial Japanese immersion classes for two years in Okinawa, Japan. Then when he moved to Norway, he took Norwegian and Spanish. By the time he had 3 years of those two languages in Europe (they teach foreign languages differently than they do here in the U.S.), he was pretty well-versed in both languages. Tim had a passion (actually it was more of an obsession) with basketball. He played basketball, baseball, rugby, and soccer in Norway. When we moved to Nebraska his freshman year of high school, he hit the ground running with basketball. His junior and senior year, he got back into rugby and played for the Nebraska all-star team and then played the first few years he was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His studies started demanding a lot more of his time (he was on an full academic scholarship the 4.5 years he was there) and internships started taking up extra time set aside for sports of his own. He worked as an intern at Husker Power for several years. Tim got to teach strength, conditioning, and agility to the cheerleaders, dance team, the girls basketball team and the wrestling team…to name a few. He enjoyed working with the wrestling team so much that he volunteered to continue to help train them after he graduated.
Tim now lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. He is the manager and a trainer at the 9 Round kickboxing gym that just opened there. He is also four classes into his master’s degree in strength and conditioning training. Tim is a health nut and is always in a gym or out hiking. He loves kickboxing…as do I…and I would like to think that all those hours training in martial arts when he was younger helped shape him to be the great teacher he is today. He also belongs to a “meat head” gym where he lifts everyday. Tim is a big UFC fan and can spew so many facts about fighters and moves. I really enjoy watching with him. I have two black belts myself, and close to another one in a third martial arts program. Add to that two years of kickboxing experience and over a decade of watching mixed martial arts, I really appreciate watching fight nights with someone with a high fighting IQ. If we aren’t together, like tonight, we are often texting back and forth comparing notes on what is going on and what our predictions are. Tim wants to eventually work with MMA fighters, and I think he would be terrific at it.
So I have told you some of my memories of Tim as he was growing up…but I want to impress on you how incredibly proud I am of this kid. He is so driven and so organized with his life. He sets goals and then makes a solid plan to reach those goals. Tim mentioned he wanted to get back to Colorado. I know it was hard to leave his friends in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he lived for 6 years. However, he took the plunge and went out there to Fort Collins and started his life alone out there. I sure do miss seeing him, but I am happy he has gone out to where he wanted to be. He calls me a couple of times a week to keep me updated on his classes and job. It was great seeing him last weekend and I am looking forward to seeing him in a month in KC for Joe’s wedding. So happy birthday, Tim. I love you and I am so very proud of you!