Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saying Good-bye to My Friend Mich

I met Mich Magness three years ago when I took Mam-ma Polly to a 101st birthday party for his aunt, Lois Taylor.  We clicked instantly, as Mich learned that I was there as Mam-ma's caregiver...and he was a gerontologist for the state of Oklahoma.  Mich "had my number" pretty quickly, and he gave me great advice about caregiving, the elderly, and the sandwich generation.  We talked all through lunch, and I will always remember that on the way home, Mam-ma said, "Well, I said to Lois...'He's met his match!  If he can out-talk HER, he's really done something!'" 

I will also remember that Mich asked me why I thought I had to be responsible for distant relatives (like our little great-nephew Timothy) and "every stray that comes along"!  He said this was typical of certain groups of people... nurses and teachers, to name a couple... that we were by nature a "nurturing personality," and we felt it was our duty to care for others. As a former teacher, I fit the pattern.

The following summer, we met again at the birthday party, and Mich began to follow this blog. He usually shared my posts from the blog on his Facebook page...and he almost always had something insightful, encouraging and/or comforting to say about them.
Mam-ma Polly and Grimm Magness
July 2010

I find it interesting that in such a short time I could come to feel such a strong friendship with someone I only met twice  yet "corresponded" with almost daily via Facebook.  I never met Mich's wife or sons... although I did meet his brother, and his father, Grimm Magness, who had grown up in Arkansas with my grandparents.

Mich and I shared a lot of the same views... socially, politically, and spiritually.  I know he loved God, his family, his community, the arts, and dogs.  He had the biggest heart.  And now, he is gone... another victim of Glioblastoma... the second friend I've lost to this disease in the span of three months - and the third person I know who has been diagnosed with GBS in the last year.  Until last July, I had never even heard of is supposed to be fairly rare.

Mich's last message to me was on June 24th, when he assured me that he was as okay as you can be when you know you are dying of a brain tumor, and he added, "Thanks for caring."  I did care... and I will miss his social commentaries...his sweet insights into aging and the elderly, and his ever-present wit and ability to tell us how he really felt - and get by with it!  I am sure I will re-read his advice (as documented in a post in July 2010 on this blog) quite often... and the comments he shared with me on Facebook, as well.

I will so miss Mich and his larger-than-life personality. Oklahoma - and the country at large - lost a good man tonight. The "gerontology world" lost a tremendous teacher and advocate.  And Heaven's table gained a delightful dinner guest.  I'm sure he, Mam-ma Polly and Mrs. Lois are already having a great conversation there.

God bless you, Mich...  we will never forget you. May you rest in the peaceful, loving arms of Jesus.