I met Mike in the early 70's, when I first started working at the Columbian newspaper. Mike impressed me with his very English sense of humour, and keen interest in his children, Susan & Tim. He enjoyed taking them sailing and being involved in their lives. We became good friends early on, and that friendship grew as the years went by. Mike was always there for me, and helped me through some challenging times.
Mike asked me to go sailing with him in English Bay, which was a first for me. He was a great instructor (a bit brusque and demanding.) Finally one day, I gathered my courage and asked if I could pilot the boat. His response was, “in due time!” I realized then, that my job was to do as instructed, not to expect favours or to question the Captain!
Through the years, after the Columbian had closed, we continued to socialize with Mike and Melanie They visited us on Whidbey Island and in Portland, Oregon. We always enjoyed their company, sharing many laughs, good cheer and even a bit of religion. One Christmas we all decided to go to Midnight Mass in Maillardville (French speaking part of Coqulitam). Just when they started to pass the collection plates, Mike leaned over and said, do you think they take credit cards? That was the end of the religion experience.
The last time I went to see Mike at Queens Park; I met Mel at the Royal Columbian first. She asked if I would take a carton of cigarettes to Mike, and please make sure I gave them to the nurse on duty for distribution. The first thing Mike wanted to do upon my arrival was to go outside and have a smoke. I mentioned it was snowing, but to no avail. I got him in the wheelchair and off we went to the covered patio.
While living in Sacramento, California, I would fly to Vancouver quite frequently to visit my Mom and would always stop by to visit with Mike. I would call him in between trips. Then one day I called and was told Mike was not there. I assume he had passed away. You can imagine my surprise today, to get a call informing me that Mike had passed away last Friday. I would have loved to have visited him, had I known.
We returned to Canada five years ago and are living in Parksville on Vancouver Island. I believe Mike had a place in Comox just to the north of us. I often think of him when we are up that way. I have a lovely painting on my office wall of the Frasier River, which he did many years ago. It is a comfort to just look at it and think of him.
Thank you Susan, for arranging for him to be near you. I can appreciate the effort it takes to care for a loved one. He was very proud of you, and your children, as well as Timothy and his many adventures. I have missed him and feel sad that I didn't know he was still with us until now. We could have had one more visit, one more laugh. Smooth sailing Mike, you were a dear friend.