We never know when this will happen. My cousin Michael Maguire died the morning after Thanksgiving.
I didn’t see much of Michael as an adult, but when we were children, his family and my family and yet a third set of cousins did Thanksgiving and Christmas together, every year, at one house or the other. He was part of my childhood, part of my growing up. When my Dad died, and we sold the house, Michael came and spent the whole day cleaning out the garage; my sister and I unanimously agreed that he should have his pick of Dad’s tools. He married late, about 7 years ago; I didn’t make the wedding, but I went to the party he threw afterward. I went to his father’s funeral, and his mother’s, and his sister’s. I probably went to his grandmother’s funeral (she was my aunt), but that was back in the ’70s and I don’t remember it. Now I’ll go to his – a military funeral, he served a couple of hitches in Germany in the sixties, didn’t go to ‘Nam. He was two years younger than I am.
Michael was a quiet man, not talkative; a man who liked to do things with his hands. There was a time when he drank more than was good for him, but he stopped drinking, and didn’t start again. Solid, reliable, and kind – not the sort you want to lose. He died in a hospital, he’d been in one hospital or another since July. Sometimes modern medicine just doesn’t do it. At least he’s not in pain any more, no longer in a strange bed with tubes and machines. Not a good way to go, for a man who liked hiking and camping and birding. Maybe there are forests and birds where he is, wherever that is.
So goodbye, Michael – you’ve taken a small piece of my life with you. Rest in peace.