Mikey was never one to put himself first. Even with a terminal illness, his pain was always secondary to his primary mission; taking care of the people he loved. He kept his sense of humor right up to his very last moments. He was loyal to a fault even in adversity. He would repeat a portion of the Soldiers Creed, “I will be loyal to those with whom I serve.” In fact in the eight years I served in the Army, Mikey was one of maybe two people that joined out of a sense of patriotism and a genuine desire to serve others. Mikey served everyone whether they were military or not. One of the very first things I noticed when we met was his kindness toward all mankind. He didn't care who you were or where you came from, if he felt someone was lonely and left out he would remedy that in a heart beat. There is no way to capture his total being in such a short time. Since Mikey was all about love and looking out for others I want to use some of his “profundities” as he called them as well as words his friends and family have said.
Feb 17, 2014: Apparently this thing I've got isn't just taking my memory, it's going to kill me too. As in worm food, stone cold, "Weekend at Bernie's", meeting my ancestors dead. That sucks for me, right? The prognosis is 2-7 years from onset and it's been 2 years so far. I'm in the process of dying and it looks like it's going to be sooner than I would have wanted or expected. I'm posting this on FB because there are some of you that I won't ever get to see again and others that I will never have the pleasure to meet. I want to thank you for your friendship and for the love and laughs you've given me. These are my last wishes for you : (1) Eat a big chocolate sundae. (2) Adopt an ugly cat. (3) Call your mom for no reason. (4) Don't stop singing when a car pulls up next to you (5) Take pride in your drive and determination to do well in your career but place much more value on love, family, and charity. (6) Join forces with PTSD/Substance Abuse - Soldiers Seeking Safety (7) Take care of Robin for me, please.
I love ya'll. Don't take anything too seriously, be good to yourself and everyone else and have an awesome life. I'm gonna go fishing.
Feb 23, 2014: Spend time with the oldest person you know, as much time as you can. Cherry pie filling is the best invention in history. Watch Bugs Bunny and Jimmy Stewart. Find a way to feed somebody that's hungry. Give money to an animal shelter but not if they have tarantulas. Tarantulas are creepy.
Feb 27, 2014: Dementia is awesome. You can look someone straight in the eye and say "Those green ducks are driving me crazy. They're chewing up my couch, always changing the channel without asking and barking at the sun all night. Can I borrow your shotgun?" and whoever you're talking to suddenly becomes a stutterer. Hehehehehehehe I have a fun disease.
March 2, 2014: Wisdom from the guy whose meds are kicking in : If you have any questions about anything at all then you need to get them to me as soon as you can because these new pills I'm taking are giving me the answers to absolutely anything and everything. Take advantage of my new-found brilliance before my prescription changes.
Wisdom ensues :
If you consider yourself to be "assertive and confident" but everyone else just thinks you're a jerk there's a better than average chance that you're an jerk. Sorry about that.
Diamonds are expensive but pearls are precious. I don't know why I made that distinction but it must be important. Maybe someone will explain it to me.
Eat every flounder you can find. Those critters have made a mockery of physiological bilateralism and are confusing. They deserve the fact that they're delicious.
It's acceptable to encourage obnoxious tourists to feed seagulls. (Bird poo is funny when you're not the one trying to get it out of your hair) Educate the nice people that are just visiting though. We like those guys.
If you make a donation to any animal shelter you will be a better person than you've ever been before. (Think about it, there's some cool profundity there...)
The next time a cashier is rude to you don't get your feelings hurt. Just say "Is it purple in here or is it just me? Seriously I need pennies." That's not productive or clever or funny but it has the potential to give somebody something to talk about when they get home. It's always nice to have something to talk about.
March 18, 2014: My confession : I haven't confronted anyone about this but I have to say that I have a low opinion of those of you that don't consider loyalty, duty, honor, friendship, and love to be a part of the core of yourself.
March 19, 2014: A new Mikey profundity. "A man that stands alone facing adversity without compromising and looks death in the eye without flinching is considered strong and is deeply respected. If that same man has someone by his side throughout all of his adversities and he can look death in the eye with the support of people that will love and support him to the end then he is a man to be envied." Now that I'm actually facing adversity and death I find that I would rather be envied than respected. I love you Robin.
March 21, 2014: Impending doom (insert dramatic music here) sucks but life without living sucks more. Stop and smell the roses. Compliment a clerk on her hair or nails. Learn to play guitar and write a song about dog gas. Take an epileptic friend to church and see if a revival breaks out. Send a trophy to every child you know that says how awesome they are. (Google it, trophies are not expensive.) If you go to a big church that doesn't need your money then use that 10% at the grocery store, you can pay your tithes at the shelter. If you're a racist like me then make a commitment not to pass that foolishness on to the next generation. Adopt something. Take a nap when you need one.
From Friends and family:
*Words are just so inadequate to try to express myself in this situation... The hole Mikey leaves is both unfathomably huge, and yet running over with fullness at the same time. Full of all of his essence, intensity, love, encouragement, hysterical stuff, wonder and courage and compassion and on and on... Even with such piercing rending grief, I am helpless but to jubilantly celebrate for his life and these magnificent reflections of him that will go on and on thru all of us who truly deeply love and adore him. And to get to hear and witness the way he loves you Robin and your shared breathtaking love... Has been a privilege that was unexpected and will have an eternal impact on my psych. It exists! It will live on. I am so much richer Robin for every moment we've spent, so joyful for the gift even as I mourn the shortness of the time. But I do love you both so deeply and truly...This is not how it ends...! We will see him again. And we will continue to share this special love and friendship until we do! Texas seems like a far away place to you now I know, but we are truly close together in spirit.
*Mikey you were a true inspiration, to me you showed me how to be a soldier in the real army past training. you were the first NCO who truly showed me the army was a family. You welcomed me into your home as if i was your own...
*Through thick and thin, he knew how to make me smile. He was a battle buddy in arms. He loved his job, he was the go to medic in iraq.
*The harder the deployment got he made it easier. No worries and nothing negative to say. You could trust him with your life because not only did he know his job he loved it. After deployment he kept his smile and jokes. Top notch human.
*It was an honor serving you and your family.
*all good nothing bad because he was a Angel here on earth. He was fun, caring, and full of life. Mikey loves everyone, he never judges people he was everyone’s friend. He love putting a smile on everyone’s one face
*He was one of the greatest men I've ever known and I will never forget him.
*I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with you and Howard. Thank you for the honor of having served the two of you.
*Mikey, it is said an Oak tree symbolizes courage and power. I will plant one in my yard this weekend to honor you.
*Mikey, we will always be grateful for your service to our country, and we are even more grateful for your friendship, the way you loved people, the laughter and music you shared, that VOICE, your love for our dear Robin, and the way you made everyone feel like family! You were the coolest freedom fighting, gator wrestling, singing cowboy I've ever known! No one else will fill those shoes! We miss you, brother!
A message from his sister Carol.
For great warriors, when asked the question of one's greatest battle and to sum up the worst of War, it is a difficult thing. At the end of my brother's life when he wanted to leave a message for his children, he told me this about War. I think it is a good message for all children.
"In Iraq we were in a convoy traveling. Because of threats from those who would hurt or harm the troops, there was a rule enforced that civilian cars driven by the local people must not pass the troops without being cleared. It was an early morning convoy and a civilian car came up from behind. It began to pass the troops. The order was given to stop the car. Mikey was standing watch for the usual guard who had excused himself and Mikey was in the vehicle given the Shoot to Stop Order. He took careful aim at the passenger side which he could clearly see and had confirmed was unoccupied. The driver was pulled from the car. He did not understand the orders being yelled to him in the foreign language. His car was clean - no bombs- no weapons. In Iraq jobs are very hard to come by. It was a father trying to support his family. Being detained that morning could cost his family something precious that could not be recovered." My brother said, "..the fear in his eyes - the fear that I put into the eyes of an innocent man, who was trying to take care of the wife and the children he loved was the worst thing about War. This man was the father and provider for a family we were sent to help, and protect....that was the worst moment."
This was the worst and most haunting memory of my brother. First, do no harm. He was a healer... and he did all he could, with every breath he was given. His Mission Complete. Completed with Valor.