My life has gotten in the way of my blogging lately. I have notes and scribbles written in the journals I have lying around the house about all manner of things I find worthy of sitting a writing about--things like the kids leaving for camp for the first time, a special day and some change with my favorite six year old little girl, and some hither and yon thoughts I have had lately, but those will have to wait for another day, when my head is not foggy from lack of sleep.
However today I received the news that a dear friend Mike Oswald died this past weekend after having a heart attack. I remember very clearly the first time I ever lay eyes on Mike Oswald. He had a full head of curly salt and pepper hair and he had a very distinctive swagger as he walked. He and his wife Vicki began to worship with our church group in Tustin, California while I was in high school. Mike became an acquaintance to my dad and Vicki a friend to my mom. It was in their interactions I began to know Mike and Vicki. I found Mike fascinating, a VERY intelligent man, a great story teller (his stories were always punctuated with a nervous tick of some sort) and a person who was genuinely interested in the going ons of my often silly life. Vicki had the best laugh I ever heard and her story telling is great with a vivid arsenal of expressions and hand motions. I loved sitting at their house hearing their stories and having a willing audience to the stories I had to tell.
I would house/dog sit for their dogs and would gladly give them their cheese nip treats for good behavior. I was often an invited guest to dinners with them and loved sitting at their feet learning of travel, theater, and books. After their New Year's trip to New York City and a viewing of Miss Saigon, Mike burned me a tape of the soundtrack. I played that tape over and over learning the story of Kim and John and falling in love with the music. It still is my favorite musical and the movie haunts me.
Mike believed in me. He would tell me how much he thought I would accomplish. I think he was amused by my confidence especially in relation to my naivete. He would write me notes and he would hand me riddles on Sunday mornings. He talked with me and made me feel special. He knew that there were times I felt I could not please anyone and in those moments he would always find ways to build me up and show me he had a huge amount of faith in me.
Mike collected books--signed first editions--and he shared several books with me. When I graduated from high school he gave me a book by Thomas Payne. He wrote me a very great note that started out "To one fiery revolutionary to another." I kept that note in the book and it stays there still.
Mike would send letters and cards while I was in college. He was one of the only men I have ever known who signed his and Vicki's names to Christmas cards he picked out, addressed, wrote notes in.
About 12 years ago his heart gave him a scare. He was a high strung man living a high stress life and it was catching up with his health. That year he traded his NYC New Year's trip for a Hawaii trip and he adopted the Hang Loose philosophy of life, wearing Hawaiian shirts from then on.
It means the world to me how he insisted on taking Nathan and I out to dinner each time we would make it to California to visit. I loved how he really wanted to get to know Nathan and would spend hours around the dinner table asking him questions about his thoughts on God, life, being married to me, and etc.
It will always be a blessing to me to have had Mike Oswald in my life. Every young person needs a Mike in their life to tell them that the world is their oyster. He challenged me and made me feel special. I look forward to hearing his stories on the other side of the Jordan.