I do not know where to begin. I barely knew Mike Ragland. We met as members of the Calhoun Area Writers group. First impressions are not always good and not always lasting. My few encounters with Mike were good and shall forever last.

We shared that other, second life, a writer’s life. I’m told writers must find their voice. Whatever that is, Mike had it. Colloquial may describe it. Genuine is much closer. Honest hits the mark. Southern patois leapt from his pages, and having heard his actual rich bass voice, every intentional word elicited warmth when I read him. Mike’s writing echoed.

I observed Mike with curiosity. I knew there was substance in this man, a rich life salted by wisdom. My goal was to know him better, to learn from him, to ferret out his tricks and techniques of storytelling, something I do not possess. I will miss the conversations we never had.

Mike gifted me his presence in that space where lives cross, even if brief, because he possessed authenticity, a true guttural honesty. His personality enveloped you, especially a novice writer, with the feeling you could do it, too.

That feeling, his life, will echo, too.

Deck Cheatham