One of the inevitable costs in aging is watching old friends pass away. Seems to happen more and more these days, nothing can stop that.
My old friend Mike passed away a few weeks back from heart failure. I haven’t spoken to Mike in years. The last time I saw him was in passing at his work. A quick hug and a fast recap, and another unfulfilled promise of “I’ll call ya.”
Some friends are put in your life for a reason, and when I heard of Mike’s untimely passing, it became clear.
Mike was one of those glory days kind of guy. If you are familiar with Bruce Springsteen, you will get the reference. He always talked about high school and how he acted in plays then. And he was pretty good.
Mike worked at a bowling alley in Federal Way in the 1980s. He never seemed content to be just a desk clerk in a bowling alley those days. He always talked about how he should go on auditions, but never did. His glory days were clearly behind him. He also talked frequently about being in love with a coworker, Randi. He never seemed to ask her out, and was always saying how great it was to just be her “friend.” He never seemed to date much and was frequently found at a bar after work.
You could usually find us at a local watering hole on the West Hill in Kent back in those days. Mike was generous to a fault, would give you his last cigarette, or his last five bucks for two more beers. I eventually stopped going to bars with Mike, I enjoyed his company, but the constant bar trips pulled me toward home and him toward another bar.
Mike was my friend and in my life for a reason. It was a cautionary tale at a particular time in my life where decisions might get made of how you spend the rest of your life. Like the decision to have goals and meet them. To go home to a family, instead of closing down another bar. To pursue a dream of being a writer, instead of one day telling everyone in the bar that I was once almost a writer.
I will miss you, Mike. You were a little guy, but you had a big heart.
And you never knew it, but you taught me, and the other guys a valuable lesson to have goals and pursue them, instead of saying, what if?
Rest in peace, Mike. Will have a Cuba Libre for you someday. And thanks again, for showing me how not to do it.
Todd Nuttman is a regulator contributor to the Kent Reporter.