Monday, December 22, 2008

I made your favorite Christmas treat today!

My Grandma Hardie knew the way to Mike's heart...through his sweet tooth! She made sure to make these Caramel Morsel Bars every year at Christmastime because she knew they were Mike's favorites.

They're now our favorites.

I just made these bars today and, of course, I thought of Mike.

Here's the recipe.


14-oz. bag KRAFT Caramels
3 TBSP water
5 cups crisp rice cereal or toasted oat cereal (I use crisp rice)
1 cup peanuts, optional
One 6-oz. pkg. (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
One 6-oz. pkg. (1 cup) butterscotch chips


Melt caramels with water in saucepan (or double boiler) over low heat. Stir frequently until sauce is smooth. Pour over cereal and nuts; toss until well coated. With greased fingers, press mixture into greased 9” x 13” pan. Sprinkle morsels on top; place in 200 degree oven for 7 minutes, or until morsels softened. Spread softened morsels until blended to form a frosting. Cool, cut into bars.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Memory from Mom

As I sit here listening to Christmas music, I am reminded of a phone conversation I had with Mike years ago (He called me in September 1987 for my birthday). I had been asking him for quite a while if he would be able to join us in California for Christmas since most of the family would be here. When I asked him again during that phone call, his reply was "I'll be home for Christmas." So, whenever I hear the song "I'll Be Home For Christmas", I think of Mike and wish that he had been able to join us that year and all of the years since then.

The picture collage on the right are all of the pictures included in our family Christmas cards.

Below are more photos taken on Christmas Days gone by...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Halloween Memory...from Dad

When I was visiting Dad last month, he reminded me of a story about Mike that seems appropriate to post now--around Halloween.

Dad recalled when we all went to a haunted house. All of us kids were pretty young--Mike was probably about 7 years old. (Hey, aren't haunted houses meant for teenagers and adults?)

Dad said that all of us kids were pretty quiet through the whole thing. (Just to let you know, Dad, it was because we were all terrified!) Then, as we were all quietly walking through the parking lot to leave, Dad asked what our favorite part of the haunted house was. Apparently, only one of us kids offered anything positive. It was Mike.

Mike said, "I liked the lady who let me out the best."

Well said, my brother!

My personal recollection of the haunted house:
I was terrified--especially since my parents were seemingly unaware of some of the happenings to me. For instance, I remember walking up a set of open stairs and having someone reach through and grab my leg...and hang on to it. The only comfort I had while having gouls and zombies jump out at me at every turn was that I was holding onto my mom's hand. But when my ankle was grabbed and I couldn't walk anymore, my mom said something like, "Come on, Laura, you've gotta keep up." I thought to myself, "Easy for you to say." and "Some comfort YOU are, Mom!" Then I was hushed when I tried to explain what happened. I figured I wouldn't get out of there with my family anyway.

Anyone notice that in the picture of all of us kids, Mike dressed up as a soldier?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A gift from Mike

Today, my children found a bag filled with foreign money. It was Mike's bag of money from all (most?) of the countries he visited. What fun our kids had examining it, discovering what countries the coins and bills were from, sorting it all out, and trying to figure its worth, and even weighing the coins. I remember going through this bag a couple of times, but getting it with all of Mike's other belongings, I really hadn't taken a close look at what he had. Here's most of what was in the bag.

There's money from England, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, France, Italy, Mexico, and Canada. There's even a U.S.A. penny from 1916. Cool! (It's also the time period we're currently studying!)

I can't say enough about how much our kids enjoyed Mike's foreign money.

Here are some of their comments as they went through the money:

"He has a very interesting collection of money. The only other coins that I've seen with printing on the edges, like his coins from Greece, France and Germany, are my U.S.A. Presidential $1 coins that I've gotten from the tooth fairy!"

"I wonder if he ever knew how much all this money was worth."

"I've never seen anything like this!"
--Mary Kate

"How did he even get all of this money going to all the different places?"

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your gift to your nieces and nephews! The bag of coins has been very interesting for them to examine, sort through, play with, weigh, and imagine all your interesting travels!

It was a wonderful gift for them at this age--when they're all very interested in money, counting, and learning about all the countries. Now they're interested in figuring out how much it's worth, so we'll have to do some investigating and converting today. I'll let you know what we come up with!

Thanks again for such a timely gift to the kids. How did you know it would be such a perfect gift for them?

Much love,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

21st Anniversary of Mike's Death

Boot Camp Journal Entry from 25 years ago

Today, October 7, is the 21st anniversary of Mike's death. It's difficult to believe it has been that long. In fact, the first birthday I had after Mike's death was my 21st birthday. Then again, there has been so much that has happened since that date, October 7, 1987, that it really shouldn't surprise me that it has indeed been as long.

I'm posting an entry from Mike's boot camp journal that he wrote almost exactly 25 years ago. It's another example of what he was doing, thinking, and going through at this point in his life--when he was just 18 years old.

I've read this entry numerous times, and it always gets to me when I read the part when he mentions his Judgment Day and the Pearly Gates.

11 OCT 83 (Tuesday)

Today was alright I guess. We started out testing ourselves on different things to prepare ourselves for soldier's stakes. I was one of the testers because I am an assistant squad leader. That was alright. I gave 4 NO GO's and I didn't want to. It was funny watching their expression on their face change when I said, "NO GO."

Then we ate chow and pretty much (messed around) the rest of the day.

I started an allotment (donation) to Catholic Relief Services (ISA). I'm donating $5/month, $60/year. I feel good about it. Maybe it'll help me on judgment day!? It also helped when I heard we get it back in tax returns. I had my mind made up before he said that though. So it makes me feel better. Like I didn't do it just for the BIG DAY at the PEARLY GATES. I hope the Lord knows that.

Tonight I've got phone guard at 2200 until 2300. Wake up is at 0330. We start Tactical BIOVAC tomorrow with a 22-mile march to range 59. I heard it was the shits. I guess I have to wait and find out, huh?....

Monday, September 1, 2008

From Joan Skelly (Neisen)

Sorry it has taken me a while to write. When I first received an email from Ronda and saw in the subject, Mike's name my heart just fell. Mike and I had an off on relationship I remember in the earlier years playing touch football (ended up being more like tackle football).

I also remember Mike always being there for me. One time a classmate and I got into a fight. She sent a dog bone in the mail. So Mike and I decided we had to equally return the present and sent her a clipping from the newspaper for "dog grooming", Mike hand delivered it. Oh thoughts cat fights or should I say dog fights.

Another time Mike was there for me when I was babysitting some kids that had just moved into the neighborhood. There was a pretty ring on the kitchen counter and I thought I would try it on. The Father came home as I had the ring on my finger, I got scared and slipped it into my pocket in intension of returning it the next day. Well that ring happen to be a very special ring and the wife came over to my house to talk to my Mom. I was on the top of the steps listening to my sister defending me, I for sure didn't have the guts to admit to any one except Mike what had happened. Mike came up with a plan. He pretended to play football in their yard and put a little dirt on the ring, he went up to their door and said he had found it in their yard. He came over right after that and said "I think they bought the story". Needless to say I never got to babysit there again.

I was reading Neal Anderson's story about the tomatoes, I too was involved in that, we sat under the evergreen tree at your house on 6th and Atwood. By the way I think those tomatoes were from my Dad's garden.

Mike and I would watch the twilight zone at my house in the patio. I remember soon as I turned it on Mike was at my door. He even tried to kiss me, Mike was a good friend I didn't see him as a boyfriend and I think that hurt him. He stopped coming over to watch the Twilight Zone.

Once again we rekindled our friendship Mike hung out at my house again. It was Christmas time and my sister had just got home from work. She left her purse in the car which had a gift certificate she received from her job. After changing her clothes and was ready to go spend the certificate. She returned to her car and it was gone. She remember seeing Mike walking down the street when she first got home and thought maybe he took it. I kept on saying "Mike wouldn't do that". My Mom called over to Mike's house and he wasn't at home, he was out Christmas shopping.

Another "saving me" story, Mike was on Leave from the army and I was in a date. After going out for dinner we decided to go to Richards or Cheers (I can't remember what the name was at that time). Well the date wasn't going so well, Mike asked me how it was going and I told him the guy was a jerk, Mike didn’t like that and approached the guy, they ended up getting into an argument which ended up into a fist fight. Mike was a great fighter but this guy got one sucker punch and Mike went down. They got kicked out of the bar I didn't want to leave I wasn't sure what that guy would have done to me. The next day Mike came over I felt so bad, what a guy. That was the last time I saw him.

Mike had sent me a long letter when he was in the army, with a bunch of pictures. He had just returned from a outdoor concert. He said he had a blast, I'm sure he did Mike always made everything fun for everyone. He was a kind and adventurous guy, I miss him and every once in a while I think about the guy who always saved me.

I also remember after Mike's funeral I was down at Cheers I bumped into Scott Scheerhorn he said after people die they are forgotten. I assured him this wouldn’t be the case with me. Mike made a footprint on my heart, I think of him and the memories every time I pass your old house on 6th & Atwood.

Joan Skelly (Neisen)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

From Sheri (Cronin) Lewis

I do have fond memories of Mike from our days at Central Elementary - such fun and carefree years! Mike and I were in the same class three years in a row! I remember a photo I had taken of Mike and Neal Anderson at Memorial Park during a class outing. If I come across it, I'll have to pass it on.

Most of my memories of Mike are of a competitive nature - trying to beat each other at one thing or another. We picked on each other a lot, and I remember he and I getting scolded by our teacher for calling each other names on the playground one day. There was also a time when our religion class was together and we were all gathered around the altar at St Mark's reciting some prayers as a group and I started saying the wrong words to the prayer. Mike made sure I knew he had heard what I had done and he gave me a hard time about it (in a fun way!).

When I heard the news of Mike's accident, it was very shocking and upsetting. I couldn't believe it! I wanted to attend the wake, but didn't want to go alone. My sister-in-law arranged for her sister to go with me so I didn't miss it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

From Ron Carlson

Ron was Mike's boxing coach and a Shakopee police officer when we were growing up. Ron started the local Golden Gloves boxing club.

What I still remember about Mike's boxing is that in one of his matches he stopped his opponent by throwing one jab only which is almost unheard of.


Friday, August 22, 2008

From Scott Scheerhoorn

What can I say, Mike was my best friend.

Mike lived with me and my family for about a year—his last year of high school. I loved him and my parents did too. They treated him just like a member of our family, and Mike was very respectful. We were like brothers and shared everything. We’d even share a tooth brush if we had to!

Mike was such a solid and real friend—very loyal. He wasn’t full of crap like a lot of other guys. We were both talkers and free spirits just wanting to have some fun. We let it all out, so we got along great from the beginning. Even as friends we’d get into some fights just for fun. It usually started out with one of us saying something like, “Who’s tougher here?” Then we’d all out and fight—punch, wrestle. No hurt feelings--just a couple of crazy guys. He was tough too! I was in boxing with him for a little while. He really looked up to Ron Carlson. Mike thought he was a great guy.

Some of our favorite things to do together were going to my parents’ cabin, water skiing, hanging out by the river, talking all night under the stars, just hanging out and having fun. We talked about everything, and we loved listening to music. Some of Mike’s favorite bands were Def Leppard, Tesla, and Led Zeppelin. Still to this day, I’ll hear music on the radio and think yeah, Mike would love this song. It’s crazy.

We’d have so much fun just hanging out together. One summer we lived out at my parents’ cabin near Annandale. Man was that fun!

Mike would write me 5-page letters when he was in the Army. He’d call me before he came home for a visit, and I’d pick him up from the airport. I’d let him take my brand new Thunderbird and my Ninja wherever he wanted. If it was mine, it was his to use.

Here is Scott's car that he let Mike use on his visits home, and the car in which Scott brought us (Chris, Mike and myself) to Dubuque one summer.

We had so much fun on our trip down to Hardie’s in Dubuque and on the Mississippi on his uncle’s boat. That trip stuck with me and is why I have a boat today!

I was totally blown away when I heard about Mike’s accident. I didn’t believe it until I saw him for myself. He was doing so well in the Army. He really had something to be proud of. I sat by his casket and cried for about 15 minutes, and I’m not the crying kind of guy. It was one of the biggest traumas in my life. I miss the guy.

Scott's kids

Thursday, August 21, 2008

From Jeff Darby

Mike and I were in religion class and I had broken my arm several weeks before this, so I was sitting there with a cast up to my forearm. I had this horrible itch inside the cast and couldn’t get to it and if you’ve had cast on you know how irritating this can be. I took my pencil and started to reach inside and scratch when all of sudden I lost control of the pencil and it fell inside the cast. I looked around to see if anyone had noticed and of course Mike did, he was sitting there staring at me and laughing hysterically. After class, it took us two hours to remove the pencil from my cast using a pair of scissors Mike took from the classroom.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Another time a bunch of us decided to go horseback riding at Hanson’s Ranch, I cannot remember who all went along. But Mike didn’t have a very good ride. When the rest of the group would start to gallop, Mike’s horse would just take off in a full run, needless to say Mike was getting a little upset with his horse. When we finally arrived back at the stables, Mike got off the horse and started to complain to all of us about the ride he had just been taken on, when all of sudden the horse whipped his head back and bit Mike square in the ass. We all laughed hysterically, So I guess the horse didn’t care for Mike either.

Jeff is in the blue shirt on the right in this picture.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

From Greg Ulibarri, Mike's Army Escort

Greg was the representative from the Army who escorted Mike's body back from Texas to Minnesota and stayed with us until the funeral was over. I can only imagine what a difficult job it would be to deliver a lifeless soldier to his family, but Greg certainly fit the bill--he was such a class act, he was professional yet personable, and we loved him for what he did for us. We never heard from Greg again...until last month when I finally tracked him down in Germany! Here's one of his messages...

I know already that you, Chris, your Mom and Dad were all wonderful to me during what I could only imagine was a difficult time. I was part of the Vulcan section where Mike worked. When the accident happened, I was selected to identify and escort him home. This was one of the most painful and memorable points in my career. I can truly say that I have often thought about Mike, his family and that trip to Minnesota. I spoke of him often to other troops and friends about how quickly life can be cut short.

I cannot recall specifics but I can tell you this, one thing I could do fairly well was read people. Mike was a very dynamic individual, he was personable, energetic and not afraid to learn and excel. All excellent traits for the Army. I could tell in a very short time that he would go very far in the Army. He was a natural leader and his enthusiasum was infectious. It was because of all these qualities he was in New Mexico. At the time the Army was testing the new modifications to the Vulcan. The Vulcan was being modified into the PIVADS system. In preparation for the modification we chose Mike to go to New Mexico and get training on the new system. The Army believes in a train the trainer environment so you see Mike was selected to be trained and then come back and train us. He was a Great Soldier. A Great American.

Take Care and God Bless,

Here's a picture of Greg and his family including his parents, his wife, children and two grand children! Greg is the 4th one from the left.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

From Neal Anderson

When Mike and I ran around together we were pretty young. We didn't get into to much trouble together. Normal kid stuff. We learned how to smoke together (Thanks to Chris). Guess I liked it cuz I still smoke today. We did jump a lot of trains but it was easier than walking accross town. Stole alot of tomatoes so we could throw them at cars. Let's just say we may have played around with other things at that time also. Early teen age, we then kind of went our own way. Still talked in school and stuff but that's when I started to really not want to follow the rules, and Mike was smart enough to stay away at the time. Then I moved over here to South Dakota and got my life back on track, and I didn't get to see him again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From Tom Bjornberg

What a great memory you are creating of Mike. I read Randy's note and I
too share a lot of the same memories. Sleeping out in the tent, biking to
the pool, yes and even jumping trains downtown. We would jump them and
ride them out to my parents house. I also remember spending a lot of
time in the secret room above the garage, it seemed to be our little
hangout. It was usually Randy Johnson, Jeff Darby, Dave Helland and
myself. I remember climbing under the old river bridge, the rock fights
and how we used to harass certain kids on Halloween. Those memories will
be with me forever.

Take care.

Monday, August 11, 2008

From Erin O'Brien Denton

The reunion was a blast...good to see old friends - I had a great conversation with Sheri Cronin about how she, Mike and I used to love racing each other - the three of us were very competitive, even in 3rd grade...(See photo below.)

I'm so sorry for your loss. I have very fond memories of Mike, and
it's such a shame to lose such a vibrant, dedicated man. Just know he
was sorely missed last weekend.

Erin is now a Hollywood fitness instructor who has made a number of fitness DVDs. Here's a link to her website. She's also married to James Denton who is on Desperate Housewives. The picture (above) is from a gig they had with their band called Band from TV.

Erin was also kind enough to find their third grade class picture and send it to me. Mike is in the middle of the front row behind the class sign. Sheri and Erin are in the middle row--Sheri is the 1st on on the left, and Erin is standing right next to her. This is the age they all raced each other!
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

A recent picture of Mike's classmates

This picture was taken at their 25th high school reunion last weekend.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Reunion Weekend

This weekend Mike's class is celebrating their 25th high school reunion. I checked out our high school website under "alumni" and looked at all of their festive plans here. I wonder if Mike would have gone to his 25th reunion. Where would he be living right now? Would he have lived too far away to attend? Would he have wanted to attend? Who knows?

Out of about 265 classmates, there are four who have died. Here's what is said on the site about Mike.

I looked at the name list of his classmates, and as little as I knew most of them I just recalled the times in which we lived and grew up in that small town in Minnesota. Much simpler times...

I've heard from a few of our old neighborhood friends, so I hope to have more stories to post soon. Wow, I realize I knew so little of what he did with his friends. It's fascinating for me to hear stories about all of the things he did growing up with them.

When I look at this picture of Mike on his banana seat bike(!), I think of the care-free Mike who so vibrantly and enthusiastically lived life. He was always ready for an adventure!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

From Randy Johnson

Hello everyone, Randy Johnson here. I grew up with Mike, knew him since grade school and lived right across the street. I recently spoke with Jeff Darby and we talked about all the memories we had of Mike. We played baseball and football non-stop in the summer, we lived at the community pool in Shakopee, we would swim all day go home for dinner and go back to the pool! We camped out in a tent in my back yard so many times in the summer I can't count, we would stay up all night and run around all over town! We had it good! Those are some vivid memories for me as a kid. Mike, Jeff and myself lived very close to each other and spent our childhoods together. Jeff and I were talking of how we wish that we could have known Mike as closely in our adult lives, from what I’ve seen and read on his web site he was on the right path. Jeff and I have been to Mike's grave many times since his death to keep it clean and to sit and remember Mike, we will go visit him this summer again. Of course the cemetery where he is buried is just a few hundred yards from the Shakopee pool where we spent half of our childhood together! The last time I saw Mike alive is when us three were at Jeff's house when I was home on leave from the marine corps, I think Mike was on leave from the army as well. When I first heard of his death I thought for sure it was just rumor or some sort of army snafu. I wish it would have been. It will be good to sit and share all the memories of growing up with Mike and lots of other friends this weekend [25th high school reunion], all the snowball fights, fistfights, ballgames and a lot of things I’ve forgotten that others remember! God bless! Randy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another Entry: Mike's boot camp journal

3 OCT 83 (Monday)

Today was an exciting day. We got up at 0300. Everything was "Hurry up and wait" until the troop carriers came. Then we went to range 35. We went to qualify. I was really depressed after I shot my 40 rounds. I looked at my score card and had 19 misses. You are only allowed 17 or you don't qualify! What a trip! I get up to get my medal and find out I did qualify, but with 23 hits instead of 21. They must've given me a 2 hit break. I hesitantly thanked the Lord. I didn't feel as though I earned it.

When we got back to the barracks we cleaned our rifles then went to get my 4th hair cut. In the meantime after getting my hair cut I went to the PX and snack bar and found a letter, one my favorite letters, had been overlooked. I picked it up and read it. It was from my Aunt Kay Hardie. Never have I been complimented so much in a letter before. I also feel as though I know a whole different Kay Hardie.

I'm keeping it in the back of my jounal for use when I feel depressed. I know it will help. Read it. My tear jerker...
Click on the letter for a larger view.

This 3-page letter is still in the back of his Army boot camp journal. Thanks, Kay! It sure meant a lot to Mike. In the letter, it talked about some difficult times she had been going through, and it states:

I remember you for being such a loving--open and demonstrative--person. What an asset you have! ...and I continue to remember you and your loving ability, Mike. You serve as an example, an inspiration, to me.

Here's the hand-written letter as it was found in the back on his journal.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From Dad...about boxing

Here's what Dad had to say about the Golden Gloves boxing group Mike was involved with, and about Ron Carlson, the boxing organizer and local police officer. Dad was the assistant Golden Gloves boxing coach.

Ron Carlson had the concept that kids could do something productive if given a chance or just wander aimlessly into all sorts of things with few coping skills and lots of energy; and, for adolescent boys, lots of testosterone. He'd met lots of the kids (not all) that joined the boxing program from being "a cop" in the town. Instead of being a problem to them as a cop he decided to be a mentor for them as a person who happens to be a cop. He was just that sort of guy: when given lemons, make lemonade. Anyway, he saw the need and did the leg work for initiating the Golden Gloves program in the area through the association with the police department. He took the time, made all the connections and put it together largely on his own time. He had boxed in the Marine Corps. I had boxed at the Boy's Club in Dubuque. It was something we'd both done as an activity, mostly, not as Golden Gloves boxers.

I met Ron through several channels. He was, as most cops were, in the ER at the hospital frequently. He had an association with Bob Christensen [a local M.D. and Dad's friend] and we eventually got together having conversations about things in general, at all hours of the day and night. He asked me if I'd be interested in helping out. I said yes and there we were. He found a couple of other guys to help, one of which had actual Golden Gloves experience, and Ron was all set.

The Boundary Waters trip was sort of a retreat for the kids, or a treat for all their hard work. It helped build team unity. Also, it happened to be one of Ron's favorite things to do. It was an event for the kids to look forward to at the end of the year. Ron needed a helper for that as well, and I reluctantly helped because Mike became interested.

I'm not sure of the years Mike boxed. That trophy though was for that match, for that event, for that weight class, but among a number of GG Clubs participating and I think there were 5 clubs Dubuque included.

Mike did very well mostly because he kept his focus and kept his cool in adverse situations in general. It's very easy to lose both when some one is intent on punching you. I takes a bit of getting used to.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

About Mike's boxing

Like I've said, I never liked to watch Mike fight in the boxing ring--especially after one of his boxing matches he had in our high school gymnasium. Something went wrong with his head gear (Is that what boxers call it?!), and it was twisting and moving all over the place on him while he was boxing. He could barely see at times, and I was getting upset because the ref didn't stop the fight to let him readjust it, or tighten it...or WHATEVER it needed. It's not like he could have fixed it on the fly...with his gloves on! Ugh, I can still see myself in the bleachers--looking up at Mike in the ring for a fraction of a second, "Oooh!" then looking down and having my friends give me a play-by-play. "Isn't the ref stopping them to let him FIX IT?!" Oh, I couldn't stand it (so I crouched down in the bleachers instead)!

Mike is the one in the red jersey.

I still don't like to watch ANYONE box. Boxing was, however, something Mike took up for a while, and he did fairly well at it. So, I'm sure he had a sense of accomplishment when he won matches and this trophy.

Here's a newspaper clipping that we still have.
A bit closer to read...

This is the group of Golden Gloves boxers on a Boundary Waters canoeing and camping trip. (Most of these boxers are named in the larger news clipping above.) Mike kept this picture in the back of his Army boot camp journal.

Mike is on the far right in back.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tear Drops

I never want to forget Mike's most unique physical feature. In fact, I can't believe I hadn't scoured every picture I have of Mike to look for his signature "teardrop earlobes" until now.

I was going through some of Mike's papers and found a letter written by his aunt and godmother, Mary (a.k.a. Aunt Mayno), and in the letter it reminded me of his special lobes everyone made such a big fuss about all his life! It said...
There's a young fellow I know, an extremely earnest individual, blessed with handsome features, good humor, a sense of adventure, an emotional streak, a loving heart and a soul of gold. It's as plain to see as the tear-dropped shaped earlobes he was born with...

I'm convinced that my godson is my godsend.

The best picture I have of his earlobes is his high school graduation photo. Here it is before I zoom in...
Here is a closer look.

Check it out.
Since this picture doesn't show it fully, you really would have had to see them in person...and then you would be left with the real memory of his tear drops.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

From Mom-- Memories of Mike: Early Years in Minnesota

Mike was always coming up with some great (???) ideas. When we lived by Lake Calhoun in the Twin Cities, I babysat two other children. One day I heard a lot of laughing in the basement where the kids played during the winter. I went downstairs and found a cloud of dust coming from a corner. In the middle of the cloud were two barely visible faces. Mike and Kimmy (one of the kids I babysat) decided that it would be great fun throwing cement around and playing in it. Honestly, it took FOREVER to get the cement out of their hair and everyplace else it decided to settle. Cleaning up the basement was no picnic either.

Our first Halloween in the Twin Cities was a memorable one. Mike was so excited. When the doorbell rang the very first time, he went running to the door to see who was there. Oh my goodness. He screamed bloody murder. There was a young boy (in his teens, I think) wearing a gorilla like mask. He had a furry winter jacket on. I think the combination was too much for Mike. I had to carry him the whole time we were trick or treating. He was afraid of everything that night.

When we lived on Fremont Ave. in Bloomington, MN, we belonged to St Richards Parish. They were having a parish festival and Kay thought we should take the kids to it. Mike tried this one game – throwing a ball to knock down something or other – and kept missing. After each attempt, with his right hand in a fist and his left hand open, he’d ram his right fist into his left hand, no sound other than that. He was determined to win. And he did, eventually. Couldn’t tell you how many tries, but it was a lot.

The event that produced the two black eyes and huge knob on his forehead happened in usual Mike fashion. It was in November and we were going to the park and Mike was very excited to get there. Once there, he had his sights set on the swings and slide. He took off and ran down the hill straight for the play area. He never saw the rock that tripped him because he was focused further ahead. Oh, that big black knob was ugly. No Christmas card that year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

From Cousin Dianne

I do think of Mike all of the time and remember him in my prayers each day. Sometimes we might feel like our loved ones have been forgotten but I' m sure they are not. Not much of a story but I do remember when Mike was in that treatment facility and I called him just to say hello. I said this is your aunt Dianne and he said aren't we cousins? I felt like an idiot but I guess I felt old enough to be his aunt. We had a laugh about that.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

From Mom: a daily reminder of Mike

This I look at EVERY day and think of Mike. It stands on the counter in my kitchen holding some kitchen utensils. He obviously got it in Germany.
Close up of the German stein.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

From Mom: Memories of Mike in Dubuque

Mom has come out of hiding and has some stories to tell!

Before we moved to the Twin Cities, we lived in an apartment on Asbury in Dubuque. I remember one morning, when Mike was a little over a year old. We got up on Saturday morning and Mike was nowhere to be found. We searched everywhere in the apartment (didn’t take too long since we only had 4 rooms). We even went to other apartments and outside looking for him. Chris (who was 3 years old) woke up when Mike did, but didn’t know where he was. We were on the verge of calling the police when I decided to search everywhere within the apartment again. You won’t believe where I found Mike. He was sound asleep on top of his dad’s guitar case which was under our bed.

Another time on Asbury, I was in the living room and realized it was pretty quiet in the boys’ room. Went to check and found them in our bedroom. Mike was standing in front of our dresser staring into the mirror and admiring his handiwork - all over his face. Yes, you guessed it – lipstick all over. The look on his face was priceless.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pieces of Mike

Even after more than 20 years of Mike's passing, I'm reminded of him daily--sometimes in thoughts and other times just in the handful of his belongings I now have and still use today. Besides many of his photos, military awards, personal journal, wallet (that he had on him in the last moments of his life), and other writings and letters that I keep in a box, I have a few other things of his that catch my eye every day as I pass by them.

Mike made this mug in Great Uncle Bill's basement in 1971 during our annual Thanksgiving visit to Dubuque. Great Uncle Bill had his own pottery wheel and kiln, and he had us sit in front of him as he helped us shape our various creations at the wheel. Then we decorated them by making impressions with various items (nails, etc.) I'm not sure where this mug was in our house in Shakopee, but it must've been in a more honorable place than where Mom put my silly vase with a neck that was too narrow to fit anything but a few skimpy dried flowers. She put my vase on the back of our downstairs toilet! I now see this mug every day as it sits on my bedroom bookshelf holding back a few books.

This step stool Mike made in junior high wood shop has come in pretty handy--especially over the past 9 years since we've had kids. Jimmer still likes a bit of a boost at the sink, so it's been put to good use! It'll probably go in my closet next!

Would you believe the T.V. Mike bought in Germany ('84-'86) is still working well? Granted we're not big T.V. watchers, but all the better since I can still use it today! I used it as my main T.V. until I got married in 1996! A good buy, Mike!

As I mentioned at the end of the "Some pictures..." post, I also still have Mike's jacket he had made in Germany and wore frequently. I used to wear it occasionally, but some of the material is getting thin, so I have it in my closet on a hanger under a sweater I wear to church.

I'm sure Mom, Chris and Dad also have similar reminders of Mike in their homes.