Life’s full of changes – you just never know…
Of late, change has been about the only constant for your well-coiffed scribe. After the firm where I spent the last dozen years folded – following a poorly implemented acquisition – another element of change visited in the form of unemployment.
When those times come, heavy doses of introspection always arrive with them.
What do I want to do?
How will this affect my retirement?
Do I really need that $25 cigar?
While my schedule’s freed me considerably since January 23rd, it’s also gotten so busy I’m not sure where I found time to work in the first place. But a constant mental health break has been sharing time with some of the guys at my cigar club. That’s where I went today for lunch.
On the coffee table, were parts of the Kansas City Star. Since I don’t read the endless, repetitively redundant articles by our illustrious blog editor about its pending demise (editor’s note, that’s the Pitch not the Star) I’ve not followed details of the Incredible Shrinking Star. When I picked up the parts, I found out it was actually an entire paper.
Shocking…the flimsy fragments weren’t a Pitch, it was a Star!
A couple of stories in, I came to the obituary section. Obits are now a revenue stream for the Star as it squeezes every drop of blood out of a family it can, inch by column inch.
For a modest fee, you can print, “Bob Died.”
Anything more and you’ll pay dearly to extoll the greatness and memory of your friend or family member. It was then I noticed a whopping 14 inches dedicated to Harold Michael Bowman. A picture accompanying the obit indicated things were not exactly perfect with “Mikie.”
The authors, Mikie’s brother and sister, said he was finally “free of all the chains that had bound him during his stay on earth.”
Mikie lived a life of Down Syndrome, autism, epilepsy and psychosis.
But that isn’t what defined who he was.
His brother and sister described how they cared for him for all of his 58 years, 364 days, “amazed at the strength and determination with which he met each day. And, most of all we were awed by his joy and his zest for life.”
“At the end of a long agonizing day as we were waiting for the funeral home to come and take Mikie’s body, his nurse came in to “toe tag” him (for real), and said the funeral home wanted to know if Mikie had any valuables and if so, wanted us to take them home with us. We couldn’t help but be struck by the irony of this question. We told the nurse that Mikie never had a penny in his pocket, never had a key to anything, never a wallet – never anything. He never even knew if he had food or clothes (which he hated) or shelter. He just was. He spent his whole day smiling. He had a smile that could light up a whole room. He never had anything yet he was the richest man we ever knew. He had a huge heart and trusted that everything would be taken care of. He just took whoever’s hand was reaching out for him and went forward walking in peace and incredible faith.”
That one comment stuck with me…he just was.
It’s stories like Mikie’s that bring life full circle, back into perspective.
I’m watching a family member on my wife’s side, preparing to do battle with MS at 20 years of age. My daughter’s mother-in-law, fighting cancer, just a few short years into a well planned retirement. And I’ve watched my wife battle multiple health issues over the past five years.
It was my wife who said, “If you sat in a circle with all your friends and everyone threw their problems into the middle of the room where you could see them all……you’d most likely pick up your own problems and go home…”
Rest in peace, Mikie.
I don’t know you; never met you, but your story touched me today in a real and profound way. It was the most important story in the Star since I don’t know when.
And to the brother and sister who dedicated 58 years and 364 days to Mikie’s care, you are the angels who walk among us.
God Bless you…