I met Mike in first grade...already he was tall, and spindly, and able to make people laugh with words. He lived across town, but attended Boone Elementary for the Sight Savers program; his eyesight was really bad. I was small, a year younger that everyone else, having been put up from Kindergarten, and Mike kinda took me under his wing-a great place to be, all things considered.
His family knew mine, and when I could, I spent a lot of time at Mike's house. His dad was one of those men who treated every child in his home as one of his own, his ma was kind, and a great cook. Mike had three older sisters living at home, they were fun to be around, and could cook like their ma.
By high school, I was living just a few blocks away from Mike and his family, spending almost every day there. Mike's ma passed in '71, and Mike joined a band around the same time, as a drummer. We spent hours down in the basement, Mike playing, or listening to music. He introduced me to all kinds of great music beyond the AM pop that I generally listened to, and he also introduced me to pot, which kinda went with the music and the times.
The years went by, we all of us got older. I'd met other friends through Mike, through the music, and we had many, many good (and bad) times through the 70's and 80's.
Mike had a weak heart, and he had an aneurysm that put him in a wheelchair, but really didn't slow him down. I didn't see him as much as I had, but I tried to keep up with him as we lived our lives.
The fourteenth of April, 1988... I'd gone to the library, just to browse, when a guy I knew walked up to me, and solemnly shook my hand, which was odd, to say the least.
Eddie said to me, "It's a shame about Mike, ain't it?" I said, "What're you talking about, man?" "Didn't you hear? Mike died two days ago...the funeral's tomorrow."
Thirty-two years old...I wish I had the words to express how it felt to grab that brass handle, and help carry him to his final rest, but I don't. Mike will pop up in this blog from time to time, but he deserved this space all his own. I still ponder, when I hear a new piece of music, or just encounter something (or someone) really trippy, what Mike would have to say.
(this added 18 Jun 10)