Hi, my name is Jari Blakely Kirkwood. I know Mike from back in the day when his brother, Mark and I hung out in the same group of friends. Those days of late teens and early twenties when we were all finding our way, heading to our first jobs or college or the military…
I really didn't know much about Mike during this time, while the gang would go here and there, the beach or just hanging out, having fun. Mike wasn't around.
I didn't realize until later that Mike had been off serving our country… Viet Nam, it was in the news and guys a few years older than me were going to war…
Being young and naïve, it took me many years to realize what this meant, Viet Nam, the impact on lives, the horror, and the politics.
Getting to know Mike later after he came back was a delight. I never thought to ask and he never really talked about his time of service. I never thanked him either, I am sorry to say. Again, as I grew older and my world and awareness expanded, I realized what these guys, girls too, had done for us. The word “sacrifice” does not seem to say enough about what they went through in Nam and when they came home and how it impacted their lives FOREVER.
Mike, wow, what a charmer. One of those guys both the guys and the girls liked. He was a good listener and so worldly when he spoke. He seemed to be able to talk about any subject, any topic.
He had a little smile, a smirk, not in the negative sense but in the sense of amusement about what people were saying. I remember this look as he listened when others talked, really listening and maybe formulating his response. When I spoke he seemed to really listen, to care.
Charm, intelligence. I remember telling him once that he ought to go into politics! Then his smile turned into a full grin, smirk included, and that giggle… Apparently he thought this was a crazy notion… I didn't, he had it all… the smarts, the intellect, awareness, good with people…
I knew Betty, Mike and Mark's Mom. I had met her on several occasions. As I look back on it now, being the mother of two grown sons, myself. Wow! She did a great job with them. You could tell how much she loved her boys. I would like to think she is content now, having one come home to her. And, Mark, you have been the best brother ever, taking care of Mike, stepping in not only with duty, but with love.
It was my pleasure knowing you, Mike.
And, today, too late, I thank YOU for your service!