Mike Magee

There are friendships and then there are friendships.  It’s the nature of relationship I guess.  Some friendships end in explosive confrontation.  Some whither on the vine, forgotten and untended by either party.  Sometimes we just drift in and out of each other’s orbits through the years.

Finally there are those friendships that just go on and on down through the years finally interrupted by another unwanted friend.  These are the friends who are just always there, filling a cycle that runs from the sharing of hopes and dreams to the remembrance of past glories.

It’s a sad fact of life that there are far too few of these friends in our lives.  Each one of them is very special, a gem to be treasured.  These are the friends who weave through our personal tapestry and make us better for it.  These are the friends who unconditionally share our joys, give us comfort, support our dreams and, most importantly, laugh at our jokes.

A week ago, on Valentine’s Day I lost one of my oldest friends – Mike Magee – who I have known for 36 years.  It is hard for me to remember a time when Mike wasn’t a part of my life – first as a teenager in Chatham and then as an adult.
If I had to sum Mike up in a single thought, it would be that he truly took time to smell the flowers.  Mike loved his job as a postman because it gave him the time to do the things he really liked – cooking, tending the garden, reading and watching sports on TV.

I always admired the way Mike refused to let his job absorb and consume him; he just went and did it everyday in proverbial postman fashion; whether rain, nor snow, nor dogs that bite.

As I said I first met Mike when we were teenagers, we both loved to read and in Chatham that meant hanging out at Greenwood’s Bookmark, which for us was the fount of all knowledge.  Ted Greenwood, the proprietor, didn’t mind how long you hung around as long as the conversation was interesting.

Mike had a strong sense of wonder and, at the time, was working his way through all of the classic science fiction novels.  We found that we shared a love for bad 1950’s big bug movies, TV sitcoms and reading novels that could rot your brain.

A few years later I left Chatham to move to Toronto and we lost touch.  In that time, Mike met Gloria – fittingly a librarian – and married her and I met my wife Kay.  At the end of our honeymoon we ran into Mike and Gloria in a hotel lobby.  Kay and Gloria became instant friends and Mike and I picked up where we had left off and all of our lives have been entwined every since.

Now, Mike could be cantankerous at times, but we could see the bluff under the bluster.  While Mike and Gloria never had children of their own, our children James and Anna grew up loving them as their aunt and uncle.

Down through the years Mike and Gloria have been the constant.  In between I had a number of different jobs, went to university, moved through a series of apartments and then houses, had success and some disappointment and still through it all Mike was there to provide an ear, offer an opinion or try to make sense out of what was happening in the world.

A few years ago Mike took early retirement from the post office and decided that he wanted to find a place in the country where it would be quieter and give him lots of space to garden.  Mike and Gloria had lived in the same house for over thirty years and I figured that this was just more bluster because he was unhappy with the way that Chatham had changed and what it had become.

So I was surprised when he announced excitedly that they had finally bought a place in the country.  They moved in about a year ago, but by then Mike’s health was starting to decline.  He had great plans for the place – the gardens and trees he would plant – but he just didn’t have the energy.  Still, he got to spend his last summer in a place he had dreamed about and I am sure that he enjoyed every second of it.

My last vision of Mike is of him standing next to the house waving goodbye to us after a visit late last summer.  I remember at the time thinking that this was a little strange for Mike because usually he would hardly walk to the door when you were leaving.  But there he was standing and waving in the rearview mirror as we drove off.

We miss Mike and we mourn him but we also celebrate the richness that he brought to everyone who knew and loved him.

Greenwood’s Bookmark was razed years ago and replaced by a gas station.  Mike called me not too long ago to let me know that Ted Greenwood had passed away.  After Gloria called me with the sad news last week I had a brief vision of Mike walking into Ted’s new store somewhere out there in the hereafter looking for a new science fiction novel and to catch up on what’s been happening.

I know that they will have a lot to talk about.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.