365 days in one way feels like an eternity but in others the blink of an eye. The last 365 days have felt both of these things. It was this day last year that the greatest man that I have ever known left us; my uncle Micheal. To say that since that day all of our hearts are missing a piece of it is an understatement.
Micheal was family to us through marriage of my mom’s sister, Jodi, truly the love of his life. When you join my family you are joining true and utter chaos. We are loud, involved in each others business, a little too much, and love to poke fun at one another. For some, probably too much to handle. However, because of the infectious personality that made Micheal, well Micheal, he fit in perfectly. He added to the fun but brought light-heartedness and patience that my highly emotional family needs. Since his passing, the phrase “Be Like Mike” has become the family motto and many other’s as well. When I say he was one of the greatest men to walk this Earth I’m not lying. What I want to focus on today is how not only I, but everyone, should try to “Be Like Mike.”
I don’t think anyone can say that they saw Micheal without a smile on his face. Partly because Micheal loved himself, especially his teeth and dimples, but mostly because Micheal loved life and everyone he encountered in it. I had the privilege to live with Micheal and Jodi for a summer during college. I truly cannot think of a single time during those 3 months that I either woke up or came home to Micheal without a smile on his face. The thing about it was Micheal was simple. He was just happy to be there and be a part of things. I can’t tell you how many nights he’d walk into the family room and say, “Ok ladies what are we watching tonight?!” and would sit there and watch whatever trash TV show just so he could hang with us. In today’s world it’s so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have or what we wish we had. There’s videos of Micheal playing his guitar outside on a nice day just so he could enjoy the fresh air. Micheal was happy and grateful with what he did have and that is something we all need to do more.
The only thing Micheal loved more than himself was his family: Jodi, Mallory, Jack and Natalie. He also absolutely adored his mom and dad who lived close to them. I’ve now mentioned Micheal loving himself twice and I want to clarify that this is a standing joke in our family and to those who knew Micheal. He is the farthest thing from conceited. Micheal was the epitome of a family man. He started his own very successful business and would get up at the crack of dawn to go do a closing on a house and then run to the kids’ school to volunteer. He was always home at a decent time to see the kids after school. He told Jodi she was beautiful every single day and meant it. I can’t tell you how many times during that summer we’d be sitting on the couch and he’d turn to Jodi or one of his kids and say, “I love you so much.” Shoot, he would even tell me I was beautiful randomly. He never got angry or raised his voice with any of them, he just always led with love and kindness. Jodi and Micheal’s love is something that I can only wish and pray that I will find. Micheals’s love towards his kids is one that I can only wish and pray for in my future spouse. I’d be remiss to not mention the love that he showed toward each one of his nieces, nephews, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, everyone. Supporting at sporting events, graduations, snowboarding trips, visits during college, everything. He and Jodi even came up for a weekend and took me and a friend to bottomless brunch and it was one of the most fun days I’ve had. It doesn’t take having a family though to lead with kindness and love like Micheal did. Imagining a world full of Micheal’s where everyone lead with kindness and love truly seems like Heaven on Earth.
Micheal always brought life to the party. I didn’t say he was the life of the party because he wasn’t the type to be in your face or need to be the center of attention but he would always make everyone laugh and take full advantage when he was the center of attention. Every year for Christmas my mom’s side of the family does a themed white elephant exchange. I remember one year I don’t remember the theme exactly, but Micheal rolled up with a poster of pictures of himself through the years to showcase how the items of his present. When I say tears where rolling down our face, they were rolling. He’d always have the perfect one liners or when we would make fun of him he’d just laugh and even add to it. It was always a good time when Micheal was there. We all always wanted him at things because it was a guaranteed good time and he was so go with the flow. How great it must be to always be wanted at things because people enjoy your presence. When you’re like Micheal and you are kind, always happy, and grateful then it’s easy to be wanted.
This post has been hard because I want to do Micheal justice in showing everyone how truly amazing of a man he was and why this has been such a great loss. It’s made me smile thinking back on memories but mostly it’s brought tears because we all miss him so much and this year without him has honestly sucked. Our family gatherings are missing such an important piece and while I know he is with us in spirit it’s not the same. My aunt Jodi is my hero. The way she and my cousins have dealt with this tragedy is amazing and admirable.
I hope that I can leave the legacy that Micheal has. It truly is a testament to the type of person he was and how he lived his life. I hope everyone can “Be Like Mike.”
I miss you my Hoegaarden, Grateful Dead, Redskin loving, uncle. We all do. Thank you for setting such an amazing example for everyone you encountered. In your own words, “I love you my sweet angel.”