It was Mike's daughter who wrote, “Mike collected people.” She wrote that in the family's memory card. I never met Mike, but I have met a couple of the people he collected.
Al has been the Madigan handyman for years. A Mexican national who at one time had been crossways with U.S. Immigration, Mike's contacts within the judicial system as a private investigator helped Al eventually earn legal status in this country. When it comes to repairs and home improvement, there's no job Al isn't willing to tackle, even if he's never done it before. “This will be interesting” is his calling card, as well as his M.O. for expanding his expertise. Al’s dependability is limited only by his garrulous, outgoing nature that is mostly responsible for the elastic quality of his deadlines. Mike liked talkers, because he was one himself.
Author Sue Mattern (Out of the Lion's Den) is another member of Mike's collection. In his private investigator role, Mike was instrumental in helping Sue navigate the shoals of civil justice and win her suit against Orange County in the wrongful injury of her daughter's attack by a mountain lion within the county’s wilderness park.
The image of Mike that emerges from these two individuals is one of total absorption in the pursuit of justice and fairness, which imbues that image with a wealth of human generosity and kindness, the kind of wealth money doesn't buy. That kind of wealth always eluded Mike, but it also never dimmed his indomitable spirit of joy, laughter and living fully. It's a legacy very much alive in his widow, children and grandchildren.
Reid, on the other hand, collected books. When Carolyn told friends it was Reid who did most of the talking in their relationship, they were universally shocked, based on their own interaction with Reid, especially at parties, where they'd tended to find him holed up behind a ficus tree reading from his kindle. Entrepreneurial Mike sold melons at Woodstock. Reid refused to go to the festival because there'd be crowds. Whereas conversations about Mike tend toward the effusively praiseworthy, similar discussions about Reid are characterized by exculpatory explanations and the making of amends.
Yet this odd couple shares a surprising amount in common. Both have authored books that almost no one has ever heard of, or more importantly, bought. Mike never ceased to pursue happiness, and Reid has had it smack him in the face, even as he was seemingly going out of his way to avoid it. Most significantly for Reid, though, was that he saw in Carol what Mike did, and both have loved Carol with every fiber of their being.
Reid has prudently (quite rare for him) chosen not to chart a course to Be Like Mike. Inexplicably, Carol has accepted Reid in all his quirkiness. And maybe that is the window to knowing Mike in a way Reid never was able. It would be fitting in the most ironic sense if quirky turns out how the continuity of Mike to Reid proceeds to unfold in this life of new experiences and new beginnings. The next chapter in that unfolding is only a week away. France awaits, and we'll all get a better look into what exactly Carol and Reid have gotten themselves into. Whatever it is, it will be fun, and that will keep Mike and Carolyn smiling down from wherever they are.