Monday, October 17, 2016

A Full Life

Michael P Zissimos

October 18, 1984 - December 30, 2014
October 18th is my nephew's birthday. He would have been 32 years old. I do miss him. Not just because the empty chair at family gatherings, but because of who he was.

Mike had a heart for special needs individuals. He had worked with the special needs ministry at his church. He also helped brain-injured adults relearn computer skills at his prior position in a rehabilitation facility. In reading posts on his memorial page, I came to realize how many people he helped. He didn't talk about helping people, he just did it. Mike loved God and he showed it by loving people.

Mostly I spent time with Mike as we gathered formally for birthdays and holidays. We saw a lot of each other informally as well. His childhood home was only half a mile from our first home. In the summer we often walked to his house.

Our get-togethers continued after he grew up. We had each other over for dinner. We went to the Detroit Auto Show. We traveled to Chicago together to visit his cousins. We enjoyed the attractions of downtown Chicago, especially Shedd's Aquarium.

Mike was a Detroit sports fan through and through. Like all Detroit sports fans, we complained about the Lions. We enjoyed ballgames at Comerica Park and that one last Wings game together at Joe Louis Arena.

Mike was also an avid motorcyclist. He used every opportunity to ride. He was a member of a riders' group at his church.

Mike liked superhero movies and parties.  Though I'm a "wet-blanket" when it comes to parties, I dressed up as Clark Kent for his 30th.

Mike had a Greek heritage,  but was fond of only only one Greek dish...lamb chops. So from time to time, Uncle Alex barbecued lamb chops for Mike.

I learned about many of the good things in Mike's life after he was gone. The qualities that made him special. His heart of gold. The small and largely unknown acts of kindness. It seems that we only hear and appreciate the good qualities of a person when they are gone.

"Strange isn't it? Each man's life touches so many others."
- Clarence (It's a Wonderful Life)

Mike's life had meaning and value. He gave meaning and value to those who may have had no value to society or who may have felt they lost their value. He added meaning and value to my life. So how do we, how do I,  honor his memory?

Forgive now...we don't know if we will have another opportunity
Love now...we don't know how long we have with others
Live now... Don't wait until the future...we don't know if we have it.

Mike's life was short, shorter than it should have been, but it was a full life, because he loved.

No comments:

Post a Comment