Dec. 14, 1947- April 19, 2017
If the sixth and final stage of grief is acceptance, then being able to remember a departed loved one in their happiest moments might be a sign you've arrived at that final plateau of sorrow. At the very least, you are remembering that loved one when he or she was happiest, and good memories like these bring their own comfort.
Carol has gotten used to me asking about Mike, so she might be a bit further along in the process of memory's healing grace.
“I have thousands of memories of Mike in the 44 years we were together, but one of the images that returns to me of Mike at his happiest in recent years, is when we would float on our little lake in our sweet electric boat, wine in hand, soft jazz on the CD, with our pup Cricket and me by his side. He would wave to our neighbors and shout, ‘Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! Isn’t this great?’ He was so relaxed and happy and enjoying the moment.”
Oldest daughter April recalls, “I think the times I remember seeing Dad at his happiest were when a loved one walked in the door. His face would always light up and he would exclaim “Apies”, “Bug”, “Son!”, “Chloe Girl”, “Parker Parker”, “Big Al”! Everyone got the same energetic greeting whether at the front door or with the squeaky turn of his office chair when he took a break from furiously tapping the keys on his keyboard, hard at work on a report.”
Second daughter Michelle (aka "Bug”) adds, “I have a fond memory of Dad visiting me on the set of the Today Show. There had been a Mardi Gras segment on the show so after the show he was hanging out, wearing beads and enjoying the food. He also got the baby from the king cake! I could see the pride and excitement in his eyes in that moment.”
Perhaps my personal favorite (because it involves baseball)l comes from son-in-law Pete. “The Angels had won the 2002 World Series. I took Dad to a post victory party where manager Mike Scioscia was meeting members of the community. Dad not only received a signature from Scioscia, but then turned to Scioscia's wife saying, ‘this is the autograph I really want. This is the real hero.’ Scioscia was beside himself and Dad was happy to put a smile on everyone's face.”
Mike and Carol have four grandchildren, two of whom are old enough to have formed fond memories of their grandfather. Mike's oldest granddaughter Chloe,13, says, “My favorite memory of Opah when he was the happiest, was in the morning whenever we had slept over, when we would get our muffins and make juice. And also watch the dawn come up.”
Parker,10, remembers catching his first fish ever from his grandfather's boat, “and how excited and happy Opah looked that I had finally caught something.”
The more stories Carol and her family share with me about Mike, the more I feel like I miss him, and I never even met him. But I know I would have liked him. A lot.
Godspeed Mike. Your journey continues as well.