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Friday, 7 February 2014


He lived across the street from us in Mount Pearl. Michael (Mike), was the oldest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters.  A year younger than Frank, my brother, Mike was one of the boys who played street hockey or in the woods behind our house, catching frogs, building forts, and climbing trees.  

                Frank (left), and Mike

A natural athlete, Mike was a free spirit with committed determination where his passions were concerned.  He grew to be tall and lean and while he played soccer, his first love was cycling. Every day he spent hours riding around St. John's/Mount Pearl and the eastern Avalon peninsula. He was totally self-trained when he represented Newfoundland in the 1977 Canada Summer Games. Michael totally immersed himself in everything he did, from drumming to cycling; there weren't any half measures with him.

My brother tells the story of their soccer team going to the island of St. Pierre, off the south coast of Newfoundland, to play three games over a weekend. This necessitated a drive to Fortune, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Mount Pearl, to get the ferry across to the French island. They played their three games and on Sunday afternoon arrived back in Fortune for the bus ride home. Not Mike. He had his bike in three pieces with him, put it together and cycled home to Mount Pearl.  

He had a voracious appetite. Mike stayed with Mom and Frank for a time and was known to eat a package of twelve wieners non-stop with slices of homemade bread or buns. A neighbour was visiting one day when Mike came for lunch. She watched, speechless, as he ate and ate and ate. It took a lot of calories to sustain his metabolic level!

Mike did a stint in the Canadian military after which he joined the motocross circuit in Ontario.  However an injury made it impossible for him to continue. Following a brief time back home, he joined the military again.

Friends were important to Mike and he was a good friend to the young men he knew growing up. They were devastated when he died suddenly, on his own terms. Now, many years after his death, it is a testament to Mike that he is always mentioned fondly when 'the boys' get together. 

This song, Drink a Beer, written by Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers, sung by Luke Bryan, perfectly captures the feelings about Mike. He often biked to Cape Spear, his 'pier,'  overnight and watched the waves crash into the rugged coastline.

Rest in peace, buddy!

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