Episode 336 Michael Nelson Telling Stories and Leaving Legacies Transcript

This transcript is from episode 336 with guest Michael Nelson.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today, my guest is Michael Nelson. Michael is a Vietnam veteran who, in addition to being a physician, is also a fiction writer. And he’s here today to discuss the advocacy, advocacy work, uh, that he does advocating for people that tell their stories and document their lives.

Um, so welcome to the show, Michael. I’m really glad to have you here.

Michael Nelson: I’m, uh, I like, I’m, uh, anxious to see how this goes. I’m, uh, looking forward to it.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, maybe for the, the listeners who are out there, who maybe aren’t familiar with you and in your background, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?[00:01:00]

Michael Nelson: Uh, well, my name is, uh, Michael Nelson. I’m, uh, uh, retired, uh, about three years ago after, um, four decades in the, um, healthcare industry. I was a practicing physician. And, um, I was not expecting to retire. So, uh, when I did, after a bit of a health issue, I found myself with nothing else to do. So I decided that I would try to write.

Some interesting things about my life, and I started documenting it, and it turned out to be three different novels. So, you know, I was a, I’m a writer by accident.

Scott DeLuzio: I, I totally can relate with that too. Um, I, the book that I wrote, um, a few years ago, I started just, just writing down things, just. More for historical documentation purposes. [00:02:00] So I don’t forget things as I get older and it wound up being a book. And I always say, if my high school English teachers ever found out that I, uh, had written a book, they’d probably have a heart attack with how bad if a English student,

Michael Nelson: Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s a thank, thank goodness in writing that they have these people that are called editors who are vicious and cruel and mean spirited individuals, but they make you get it right and You know, I used to hate my English teacher for doing exactly the same thing, so now I’m paying somebody

Scott DeLuzio: you have nightmares with the red pen that comes out. Right.

Michael Nelson: Oh yes, yeah. Like, I can remember getting things written in the margin of stuff I turned in, just, really? With a…

Scott DeLuzio: It’s like, did you even try? Like, that’s the kind of stuff I would get, you know, it was like, [00:03:00] come on, uh, you know, put, put a little bit of effort in here, but you know, you’re, you’re, you’re right though, the, the editors, that’s their job. And, you know, if they, uh, if they don’t make it as an editor, I suppose there’s always a career as an English teacher or vice versa, I suppose, where they can go and, uh, uh, you know, teach people the way to do it and maybe work themselves out of a job.

Michael Nelson: something, or just hone their craft in a different vein.

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Sure. Um, so tell us a little bit about, um, your, your background as far as, um, you know, we talked a little bit in the intro to the, this episode about, um, you know, you, you think it’s important for people to tell their stories, document their lives. Um, [00:05:00] what, what type of, what type of, um, uh, event kind of led you to that, uh, where, where you feel like people should really document their stories and, and tell, you know, what, um, what has gone on in their lives and, and, and let it know, be known for other people.

Michael Nelson: Well, this is one of those ones where I go, I’m glad you asked that question. My, uh, this is actually a good story. My dad, um, was a, was II veteran. But it was something that he never, ever would speak about. We would ask him all the time. We knew that, we knew that he’d been in the army air force, and we knew that he’d had a job that was not a very nice one, but we didn’t know very much else about it, and if we asked him, he would always, he had the same pat answer.

If you have to ask, you probably never were there. [00:06:00] And so he would stop right there. He wouldn’t tell us anything. And, um, He and I did not get along very well when I was growing up, partially because I was such a good student in English. And just about everything else. And, um, so we didn’t, uh, see eye to eye on a lot of things.

But then he mellowed when he got older. And, uh, started to slip into dementia. And suddenly it got to be easier to talk about, uh, those times in the war. And, uh, and he handed me his diary that he had kept. And it was a diary of every mission he flew. as a tail gunner on a B 17 bomber. And, uh, back then, and believe me I’ve researched this because I wrote part of a book about it, uh, the life expectancy of a tail gunner was five missions.

He flew 26.

Scott DeLuzio: Wow.[00:07:00]

Michael Nelson: And so it, it was easy to see why he had such a hard time making friends. It was easy to see why he didn’t want to get to know anybody or talk to anybody. I swear to God, I, I don’t think he ever knew the names of the neighbors. He just was an antisocial character his whole life, but at the very end when he showed me that when I read that diary and the hair on the back of my neck stood up, I mean, it’s terrible stuff.

It’s, it’s, you know, came belly in dead stick. No landing gear, lost both waist gunners, we go again tomorrow.

Scott DeLuzio: Wow.

Michael Nelson: It’s the idiot that chokes me up talking about it right now. So, I of course went in the service too, and when I came back, I, you know, it was a different thing back then. Uh, times were different, and we were not celebrated when we came back. Life was hard. [00:08:00] And so once again, I couldn’t talk to my father about it.

My father couldn’t talk to me about it. And after I had his diary in hand, I thought, what a terrible thing if I did this to my own kids?

Scott DeLuzio: Hmm.

Michael Nelson: And so I started writing about not just my time in the army, although there is some. of my time in the army. But some of the things that make us quirky and some of the things that that make us whole, um, are the stories that we hold close and we don’t share.

And those kinds of things are so important because as soon as you die, It’s like a library burned down and all that wisdom, all that lore, and the reason how you gained the wisdom, the reason why you got smart, you know, the bruises and stitches that came with the lesson, that’s the story. And if you share that, I mean, back in the old days [00:09:00] when, you know, lore and saga life stories were handed down from family to family.

It was how we retained our history, and we don’t, we don’t retain our history anymore. Um, we spend all our time in our phones and everything else. So, I started, uh, when I was in the, in practice, I spent a lot of time going to nursing homes. And I was amazed at the stories that some of these people would tell me, and there was nobody there that wanted to listen to it.

Until the funeral.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s

Michael Nelson: And then, you know, then they’re hungry for any story. And if somebody had documented it and put it on a little thumb drive. And said, here, they wanted you, he wanted you to have this, she wanted you to have this, when it was all over, and you know, and the shouting was over. And so, that’s the reason for the legacy, is, is that we’re [00:10:00] losing our family history, we’re losing our lore, and the stories that go with it are so important.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s right. And it’s, I think it’s more than just family history too, because it’s. Like you, you just shared the story of your father and in his service to our country. And that’s part of our country’s history too. And, um, you know, while yes, deeply personal connection there between you and, and your father, um, that’s somebody who served the country that we all live in and that we, we all benefited from the, the service, uh, that, that he, he did.

And, you know, so many countless other people did as well. Um, And so kind of hearing those stories and knowing what those people went through, I think is important, uh,

Michael Nelson: And, and they came home damaged.

Scott DeLuzio: they did. Right. Um, and, and a lot of times, uh, especially back then, [00:11:00] um, they, they weren’t willing to go look for help with the damage that they, they, uh, incurred, uh, while they were over there.

It just was, that was just not a thing. You just sucked it up and dealt with it. And you just. Live, live your life and, uh, you know, do the best that you can with what you have to work with. Right.

Michael Nelson: That’s exactly right, and unfortunately, It’s, it’s something that continues to this day. You know, when, when I came home. There was no support group or anything like that. Shoot, we weren’t even talking about Agent Orange back then, you know, that was, oh, and then Desert Storm and the burn pits and, you know, um, the tale goes on and on.

But, but the, the. The interesting thing about that is, is that, yes, it’s not family history, it’s societal history too. But the hook there is, there’s a heart connection to it. You know, we love the story, but we also [00:12:00] love the part that the person telling the story played in the story. We love that, and so we listen harder.

And, and, uh, those stories really shouldn’t be lost. Everybody uh,

Scott DeLuzio: Now, what would you say to somebody if they, they’re sitting here listening to this and they’re thinking to themselves, well, I don’t really have anything interesting to say. I didn’t, uh, maybe I wasn’t the, the, the tail gunner on, uh, on a plane in, in World War II. I, I didn’t really do anything interesting with my life.

Um, you know, what, what do I really have to say about. Myself or, or, or my experiences or anything, there’s really nothing interesting. Who would care to listen to that? What would you say to somebody like that?

Michael Nelson: You know, it doesn’t have to be some epic, uh, you know, dime store novel or anything like that. Um, what I think and, and, and what I’ve [00:13:00] learned in doing these various situations and stuff like that is, is that the story that people want to tell is their memory. They want to tell the memory that they, you know, they get the story and there, you know, there’s lots of stories that we tell, you know, how Aunt May peed her pants when she started laughing so hard at Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh, that’s a story everybody tells, but, uh, it’s not a story. It’s a memory. And there are memories that people have. One of the best ones that I ever did, and I started doing this regularly. After, after I found out what a great thing it is, is I would go to these assisted living centers, and of course, I, you know, uh, would set up to talk to the group and things like that, and I would ask them to take a minute and remember their favorite Christmas, Christmas memory.

And the stories that you would hear, oh my goodness, they’re just [00:14:00] fantastic. And, and people sitting right next to him would say, I never knew that about you. I didn’t know anything about that. That’s just amazing. So what I tell him is, you know, don’t try to, you know, baffle me with bullshit. Tell me a memory that really meant something to you.

And, uh, and I just use the trigger as Christmas, but there’s, there’s lots of them.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And it could be anything. It doesn’t have to be Christmas. It could be a birthday. It could be just a, you know, a childhood memory. It doesn’t have to be a specific event or

Michael Nelson: birth of my children, you know,

Scott DeLuzio: you go. Yeah.

Michael Nelson: those are great stories. And there’s a few more than I like to acknowledge, but.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, now, do these stories that you’re talking about, do they all need to be documented as far as, uh, you know, writing it in a book and being published and getting it out there for the whole world? Or is it just something, you know, to… Chat about with [00:15:00] other people like, like you were talking about in a kind of group setting.

Is, is that, uh, kind of sufficient as far as telling the story or do you think that, that more stories should be documented for future generations in a written format?

Michael Nelson: Uh, the answer is yes, of course, you know, uh, I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for the fact that, you know, we have really good stories to tell, even though we don’t think that maybe, you know, we made the headlines or our five minutes of fame or, or, or whatever it is. Um, when I started working with on what I call the Legacy Project, one of the things that I did was go into these centers and go to the libraries, public libraries.

They’re glad to do this sort of thing for you. Get yourself a little thumb drive. They’ll put you in a special room. They’ll give you a laptop. They’ll hook it up for you and you can record and you can sit there and you can talk about the time that you got a care [00:16:00] package from overseas when you were, you know, sitting in the jungle and the mice had gotten in the box.

and ate the cookies, you know, that sort of thing. It’s a, it’s a memory, but it’s a great memory. And you have a little thumb drive, and let’s say that Uncle Harry passes away. Now you got this thing that’s all of his memories, and you give that to the family, and you say, here, he wanted you to have, and all those memories, and you know, how many times have you stood in the reception line at a funeral, where you, You’re standing there shaking hands and somebody tells a story about the guy and you go, Oh my God, I never knew that.

Well, what a great gift to have it on a little thumb drive.

Scott DeLuzio: You know,

Michael Nelson: all the legacy.

Scott DeLuzio: it is in, you know, a few years ago, um, my, my grandfather, um, he, he grew up in Poland, [00:17:00] uh, during, and he was there during World War II and, um, He experienced some stuff. He was captured by the Germans and, uh, he was forced to work in, you know, forced labor kind of thing. And I had never really heard, I heard like secondhand stories.

Um, and one day we were, I was at my parents house. He was there and he was, for some reason, he just started talking about it. And. He, at that point, he was completely, pretty much completely blind. He had no idea, um, you know, who was really around him or anything like that. He just was talking to us. And so I pulled out my phone and I just started recording, uh, when, when he started talking about it.

And, um, I was able to document that story. And. After he passed away, like that story now continues to live on. Like I can go back and, and listen to that. I can share it with my kids. I can, you know, share it with other family members and [00:18:00] stuff like that. And we, we have that, that piece of history now, which, uh, would have been lost with, with him had that not been documented.

So, um.

Michael Nelson: means so much because it’s in his own, it’s his own voice. It’s, yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I think that’s the nice thing about it is it is in his own voice. It’s, it’s his words. It’s not, uh, we’re talking about editors earlier. There’s no editor that went through and, you know, red pen the pages or anything like that. You should change this and, and make it sound a little bit more interesting here.

No, it was just the way he talked and he just said it the way things were. Um, and, and it was, yeah. It was just a piece of his history, uh, and it was a memory, right? Really? Like you were saying, it was one of his memories and he was able to share that with us. And, and while I was grateful for the opportunity to be sitting there to hear it in person, uh, I was even more grateful that I had the peace of mind to, uh, take out my phone and record it.

So that way future generations would be able [00:19:00] to hear that story as well. And I, it’s just a, um, you know, I think we. We need to do that more often, maybe just, you know, sit down and, you know, say, Hey, you know, I’d love to hear your story. Do you mind if I record this just so we have it for the future? And, and like you said, you may, you may end up at, at that person’s funeral years later, and you may just sit around listening to that person telling a story.

And it’s just a good way to continue their memory, right?

Michael Nelson: yeah, and maybe not so many years later. And that’s, that’s, you know, that’s, that’s part of it. You’d be surprised. I was surprised at my own mother that when I said, you know, Hey mom, I, I’d kind of like to just hear you sit and tell me a story, but I’d like to record it. So I turned it on and I got to tell you, she not only talked for like an hour and a half.

But she asked me to come back so we could do it some [00:20:00] more. And she, she told me stories that I never would have imagined. Um, uh, she didn’t seem like that kind of girl at all. But it turned out that she was proud of it on some level, so, um, uh, so it’s, it’s great. They want to tell the story. It’s just that I have a thing that I had that I post and I, and it’s part of my website and it says, when our grandparents wanted to tell us a story, we didn’t care.

So we didn’t listen afterwards. We wish we’d written it down.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. Um, and my, my other grandfather, he served in World War II in the Navy. Uh, he was in the Pacific. He was at the Battle of Iwo Jima and, and, and all this stuff. And, you know, I knew, I knew him. He died when I was still young. Um, [00:21:00] Looking back at it now, I wish I knew more about his time in the Navy and the stuff that he did, uh, places that he w he was at and what he saw while he was there.

Um, yeah, it’s just, but it’s just one of those, those things where that memory is lost with him. And, you know, maybe he told the story to somebody somewhere along the line. Um, but. That it’s not the same memory, you know, it gets distorted, you know, the, you might hear things differently than what they actually, uh, how they actually took place, I should say.

Um, and, and so it’s, it’s a little bit different. So yeah, that, that first person account, I think is, is important. Um, and, and I think we all, you know, especially, uh, military service members, uh, we all have. incredible stories, whether you think that they’re incredible or not, you don’t have to be a medal of honor recipient to, to have an incredible story.

You know, we, we all have stuff that, that we can talk about, right?

Michael Nelson: If you wore the uniform, [00:22:00] you got a story.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

Michael Nelson: Some of the stories are hard. Some of the stories are harder to tell than some of the other ones. But everybody that wore the green or gray, they got a story.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Um, now speaking of spending time in the military and stories to tell, I do want to go back a little bit and. to your days in the military and kind of do a little bit of what we were just talking about and ask you about your time in the military. Uh, I know earlier in this episode, you mentioned, uh, you know, how, when you were in, it was different times and it is now, uh, folks were not treated all that well when they got back home.

Um, you know, we get treated a whole lot better now, uh, than, than they did back then. Um, but what was your experience like, uh, you know, as far as all of that goes, uh, you know, when you got home, how, how were you treated and, and what, what was that like?

Michael Nelson: Uh, when I , well, the first thing that happened was, you know, I a [00:23:00] back then, you’re a little too young to remember, but back then we had to travel in our dress greens. I was in the army, so they were dress greens. Um, but you had to dress in your dress uniform and you had to fly standby. So, you could be stuck in an airport for 12, 14, 16 hours because you were flying standby.

But, I can remember when I came back in through San Francisco, walking through the airport, and people throwing things, hollering, you know, spilling soda pop on us, spraying us, and calling us pigs, and baby killers, and all that kind of stuff. We were not… Particularly welcome. And, uh, the first, uh, first, uh, week, week and a half, uh, when I got back out and mustered out, I spent at the VA hospital working on, uh, getting myself back on and [00:24:00] I was there long enough to realize that I didn’t want to ever have to go to a VA hospital ever again, as long as I live, you know, that didn’t work out too well for me, but, uh, they’ve gotten a whole lot better than they used to. So it was also, uh, supposed to be good, easy to get a job back then when you got out because you were a veteran and it was anything but, um, and, uh.

So my partner, Kate, is, is an attorney and she said, she said, now, listen, she, he’s going to ask you some of these questions and you got to recognize the statute of limitations has not expired on some of these things, so you cannot go telling those stories. So, um, suffice it to say that it was [00:25:00] easier to be.

a little bit on the wrong side of the law than it was to be upstanding, you know, when you like to learn to eat. Um, but, uh, it didn’t take very long and it didn’t take very many judgmental looks from my father for me to get my stuff straightened out. And, uh, and get back on board. And, uh, I was lucky enough to, uh, uh, go, go to, uh, uh, be in a state where my tuition was stipended by the state if I was a veteran.

And, uh, in addition to that, I had the GI Bill and I bartered that into an engineering degree first. And then after I got my engineering degree, I went back and got my doctorate. And started practicing medicine. Did that for 38 years.[00:26:00]

Scott DeLuzio: That’s pretty incredible. What, what made you switch from engineering to medicine?

Michael Nelson: I was building nuclear power plants and then all of a sudden Three Mile Island happened. And Three Mile Island was, uh, I actually am one of the first, uh, the first team of five that went in the containment vessel at Three Mile Island when they opened it up to see what the problem was. So I was, uh, I was there as a representative of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But Jimmy Carter said, that’s enough of that. We’re not building any more power plants. And so I was out of work and I got my severance and I paid my, uh, matriculation fee and, uh, went back to junior college to get my prerequisites to be a real doctor.

Scott DeLuzio: Um, so when on your [00:27:00] website, you have a line, uh, that says, uh, that you very much enjoyed this aspect of, of civilian life, which I believe you’re referring to your, your writing career. Um, uh, and. I’m assuming that’s, that’s what you were referring to on that, that line. Is that correct?

Michael Nelson: Yeah, yeah, it’s a lot easier to write about the army in war than it is to live

Scott DeLuzio: No problem. Yeah. Um,

Michael Nelson: back to, remember, we get back to those stories. If you wore the uniform, you got stories.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

Michael Nelson: you can sit there and write those stories all day long, and laugh right along with your pen. But, uh, it sure as heck is a lot easier than tying your boots every morning.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. Right. Well, and you know, a lot of times there are, there are funny stories too that, you know, yes, there’s, there, you have the interesting stories, but, um, you know, the, the, the, the things, you know, the, um, you know, the heroics and all that kind of stuff, people might have those types of stories, but you also have the funny stories that, um, Um, again, their memories [00:28:00] and, you know, I can remember, uh, my time in, in the military, just, uh, training to go to Afghanistan.

We, uh, we ended up getting our vehicle stuck in the mud and ended up taking us all night long to get them all unstuck. And it was like, it was a miserable experience at the time, but looking back at it now, it was. It’s pretty comical, like

Michael Nelson: pretty hilarious,

Scott DeLuzio: many times we got them stuck and unstuck and then stuck again and just, it was a nightmare.

But looking back at it now, it’s pretty funny actually. So

Michael Nelson: And somehow it was all part of the training routine.

Scott DeLuzio: Right, right.

Michael Nelson: knew you were going to get stuck.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, you know, the, the, the funny thing about it is we got to Afghanistan and it was as dry as it could be. There was no water anywhere. There’s no mud to get stuck in. So we had all of that experience of getting our trucks unstuck and we never had to use it, which I’m glad.

Michael Nelson: got to use

Scott DeLuzio: glad I never had to have to do that.

Well, uh, in a dangerous location, right?[00:29:00]

Michael Nelson: Yeah, it’s a lot easier when there’s no bullets flying. I

Scott DeLuzio: exactly. Right. Um, so going back to that line, you know, how you very much enjoy this aspect of, of civilian life. Um, I, I wanted to point that out because, uh, there are so many veterans who just don’t find any enjoyment in civilian life. And so to me, it’s encouraging to know that you can, you can find joy in your civilian life.

Um, Do you have any advice for people who are maybe trying to find that source of joy in their lives after leaving the military?

Michael Nelson: do, actually. Um. I spent a long time being angry with the army. Um, not for any particular reason, you know, it, you know, if taken as a whole, my experience wasn’t all that bad. In fact, if you want comic relief, I can tell you some stories about it. But for a long time, because of other issues that I [00:30:00] still deal with today, um, I was angry.

And, uh, it turns out that part of what I needed to do was tell that story and, uh, to, to, to, well, not necessarily write it out, but, but to tell the story. I, I used a laptop to tell the story, but what I found was it was very cathartic. because it wasn’t anything that was inside of me that was stewing or anything like that.

It was out there. It was on paper. I could read about it and nod my head. Yeah, that’s exactly how I felt about it. And I’m not saying, Hey, everybody needs to sit down and write their story about why they are having trouble adjusting to civilian life. But I think it doesn’t hurt to find some listening ears

Scott DeLuzio: Sure.

Michael Nelson: and if I can speak from [00:31:00] experience on this, boy, can I ever, you don’t want to tell that story to anybody, but you really do.

And you know, you do. And most of the guys, if they would take the time to do it, they would be better off. That being said, I wouldn’t mind living under an underpass either. Because it sounds like it would be kind of recreational, at least at first.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, that’s interesting that you said that, um, you know, because some people just don’t quite understand that, that kind of mindset. But when you’ve lived in a, you know, a foxhole or, you know, you’re, you’re out in the jungle or the desert or the wherever, and, and you’re basically living with no roof over your head, you’ve.

Sort of gotten used to that and, you know, you,

Michael Nelson: Two sheets of toilet paper. Let’s not forget

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right. That’s right. You, you, you get, you get what you get and you use [00:32:00] it, but, um, know, it’s, it’s, it’s something that’s familiar. You, you were able to, uh, manage when you were in combat living that way. Um, you know, why couldn’t you manage living that way here?

Uh, I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go, you know.

Michael Nelson: that. But

Scott DeLuzio: Find their place under, to, to squat under the, uh, the underpass, but you know, I’m, I’m

Michael Nelson: yeah. And, and by no means am I advocating, you know, for something like that. But I, I, what I’m saying is I understand. You know, it’s, it, you take a super simplification, you go back to basics, and now it’s all about, I can get by, this is good enough. I’m not going to expect anything and therefore I don’t need to have anything.

And so there’s a real back to basics thing about it. Um, I’d like to take a look and see what the statistics are of people that are [00:33:00] homeless and how long they stay homeless, or do they, do they rotate in and out? Do they. Do they move on? Do they come back? Those are the kinds of things I’d like to know while we’re getting their stories.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and that’s a good point, you know, getting their stories too, because, um, you know, I don’t think anybody as a kid growing up is thinking to himself, man, I’d love to be homeless someday. Um, you know, and let’s, let’s, uh, aspire to that at some point, right? Um. But there’s something along the way that got them to that point where that’s where they were and they’re, they are homeless.

And so what is that story? What does that look like? And I got to imagine there’s some stuff to be learned there, um, from those stories. Um, you know, things that just didn’t go right, or you, maybe you thought things were going great and. They weren’t going great. And, uh, you know, there’s just some changes that needed to be made.

And, and you just have to, uh, you know, if you made this one other decision, [00:34:00] if you made it, made it one way versus another, maybe you would have, uh, you, you would have ended up, okay. You know, landed back on your feet, but you made the wrong decision and then that’s where you ended up and, and that can help other people too.


Michael Nelson: Sure can, and that’s the point. That’s the point behind the whole thing.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Um, well, Michael, we mentioned earlier in the episode that, that you’re also a writer, um, uh, yourself, uh, tell, tell people a little bit about the, the types of, uh, books that you write and the, the stuff that you do, uh, and where they can go to find the, the books that, that you can find.

Michael Nelson: Hmm. Okay. Well, the first answer is what kind of books? I don’t, the answer is I don’t know.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay.

Michael Nelson: The first three books, like I said, they actually started out, I was just trying to write stories that I could share with my sons. about who I used to be before I was like a, they only knew me as a doctor. They didn’t know me as anything [00:35:00] else.

And I was a fully well rounded individual, robust and happy go lucky. And so I started writing about those episodes. Somebody read those episodes and said, this is such a great story. You should just, you know, lengthen it out. Well, I did lengthen it out and one book became two books and two books became three, but they were Um, you know, essentially about me and instead what we did was we took him and we made him essentially about, um, an anti hero who pursued criminal ways and did, uh, had a massive adventure.

And we take that fellow through the inner cities of Chicago and through the jungles of Vietnam, and we take him back out on the mean streets of the city again and take him all the way to the inevitable outcome. And, uh, so those three books. Um, then the third one, [00:36:00] uh, after the fellow gets straightened out, he becomes a country doctor and he does house calls and he, uh, tells the tales of what each house call is like.

Only the interesting ones though. And so those three books, Bless Me, Father, and For I Have Sinned. and The Heretic are one particular group, and they follow one particular person, and those three are written under My pen name, which is Michael Dees. My, my middle initial is D and my mother always called me Michael D.

So these are Michael Dees books. So Michael Dees is the author for those and they’re available on, um. and Barnes and Noble and stuff. And then the last two, I was done writing and I had a, uh, tag along daughter who said, you got to keep writing dad. And I said, no. [00:37:00] And she said, no, you got to write about us.

And I said, no. And she said, no, you got to do it and I’ll help you. So, uh, she did all the research and we wrote a story about she and I. Well, actually she’s a magical witch and she’s very powerful and she has friends that are elves and fairies and Things like that. It’s a young adult series, and there’s two of them now, and they’re really, really fun to write.

And, uh, and she gets a kick out of going to book signings and different things like that with those. And those are Annie Abbott and the Druid Stones, and Annie Abbott and the Race to the Red Queen. And, uh, and they’re… Very popular, apparently.

Scott DeLuzio: Do you think your daughter noticed, uh, maybe a, a change in, in your, uh, attitude or your, your wellbeing when you were writing? Uh, do you think [00:38:00] she noticed that? And maybe that’s why she encouraged you to continue to, to write?

Michael Nelson: I’m not nearly as crabby when I’m writing. That’s bad. Not only that, but I’m not bothering them, which is probably another thing that’s kind of…

Scott DeLuzio: Well, you know, I, I know our, our families, they pick up on these things and they, they notice these changes. And, um, you know, sometimes, Sometimes we should, uh, just take the advice, uh, that, that our families are, are given us. And, you know, they, they think that might be something that that’s good for you. And, and they’re, they’re trying to help you out with that.

So, um, I, I think, I think in that case, maybe that’s what was going on. Um, you know, but for the listeners, uh, your, your families are for the most part, they’re going to be looking out for your, your best interests. And if they, they see, find something that, uh, is, is. Helping you in a positive way, um, or changing you in a positive way.

It, it’s something that they may encourage you to do more of, and maybe you want to listen to that, right?[00:39:00]

Michael Nelson: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Whatever you turn your hands to, you’re actually telling a story. Whether you make woodcrafts, whether you, you know, build furniture or roof houses or whatever it is, you’re actually telling a story with your hands. And, uh, and all of that is valuable.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Yeah. I had, uh, um, another, um, guest on the show years ago. Uh, and she did, uh, like clay, like pottery and artwork and stuff like that through, um, uh, clay, uh, yeah, I guess pottery, I guess that’s, that’s what, what it is. Um. And it was really her way of telling her story. Um, you know, it wasn’t. A written documentation of things, but it was just her way of, of telling her stories and, and they were beautiful pieces of, of artwork.

Um, but, um, like you said, it could be, it could be any means of, uh, of creating things like woodwork or, uh, you know, whatever, [00:40:00] and it’s just, you know, your way of, of sharing it. And, and it’s a good way to, uh, get that. Get that off your chest. Just release out into the, into the world, right?

Michael Nelson: Right. Whether it’s written or whether it’s just your expression in one way or another. You’re absolutely right, Scott.

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Yeah. Yeah. Well, I, I like to do a segment at the end of each episode. Um, add a little humor to the, to the episode. I, we, we kind of had some good laughs, uh, you know, earlier as well, but, um, you know, I always like to end on a funny note. Um, and I have this segment That I call, Is It Service Connected? Um, and it’s basically America’s Funniest Home Videos, uh, for Military Edition, where we watch, uh, military doing something, maybe they’re doing something stupid, or something happens to them, and we, we watch it, and we can have a good laugh at it.

No one gets seriously injured [00:42:00] with these, these things. Um, and so we take a look at it and say, you know, would this be service connected, uh, uh, disability, somewhere down the line, if they were to, uh, you know, go that route. Um, so, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to pull that, that video up here real quick, and we can,

Michael Nelson: Can’t wait.

Scott DeLuzio: it’s a, just a quick little video here.

Um, so for the, the podcast listeners who, uh, don’t have a video for them, I’ll try to describe the scene for you as best as I can. Looks like it’s probably somewhere in Iraq or Afghanistan. Um, got a bunch of soldiers standing around and a big crowd of people, uh, which always made me nervous whenever there was a big crowd of people.

Um, Uh, kind of off on the side and there, there’s a couple of soldiers off on the other side of the screen. Uh, let’s play this video and see what happens. And it looks like, uh, oh, okay. That I think happened way too fast here. Let me, let me slow this down and bring this back. Okay. So what happened on the bottom left corner, there’s a little kid. [00:43:00] It looks like he has a rock and he took it and he chucked it towards the soldiers. And, uh, if you watch this guy here, yeah, he gets nailed right. Right where

Michael Nelson: a really big

Scott DeLuzio: a guy. It’s a

Michael Nelson: really big rock, too.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Um, so that was, that was probably not the best place to get hit. Um, I, you know, I, I don’t know if there’s going to be any, uh, long term disability there.

Maybe we can find out after the guy has kids. Um, you know, if there’s any, uh, any issues with those kids that don’t come out quite right. Um,

Michael Nelson: psychological damage alone should be…

Scott DeLuzio: That’s true. That, that probably was, uh, pretty damaging psychologically. So yeah, they may have, they may have some, uh, um, they may have some claim there, having that, having that happened.

I don’t know. Um, but.

Michael Nelson: he probably does. But he better report it right away.

Scott DeLuzio: I know, right? Yeah, exactly. That’s the thing. Go [00:44:00] get it checked out. Go, go and, uh, you know, suck up your pride and, and show doc what’s going on.

Michael Nelson: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: All right. Well, uh, Michael, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. Um, I really, uh, really do appreciate you taking the time to come on and sharing some of your story and your, your background and, and for everything that you’re doing to, uh, help other people get their stories out there. I do appreciate it.

Michael Nelson: Well, thanks, Scott. You made it fun.

Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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