Leaping Forward, Walking on Air

Monday, August 18, 2008  - Calgary, Alberta  Calgary Lawyer, and dual-U.S.-Canadian citizen, Gerald Chipeur in his office on Monday, August 18, 2008. Chipeur the former head of Republicans Abroad Canada displays a photo of himself and Senator John McCain. Chipeur has a long history representing right-of-centre political parties and groups (the Reform, the Alliance, the Conservatives, Focus on the Family, etc.) and is not unknown to U.S. conservative political circles.  Photo by CHRIS BOLIN for Macleans Magazine

Before Mike died he wrote a message to his friends and family. At his memorial service, Mike’s good friend Dean Jenkinson read it. Mike was a gifted writer, amazing husband and father, and a great human being. That shines through in his final message. — Robin


So, if this is really happening, I guess that last-minute cure didn’t turn up. Don’t worry, one day it will. A lot of smart people working together every day are going to unlock that puzzle. Until then, there will be gatherings like this.

I don’t know what your expectation of Heaven, is, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It’s like an air-conditioned mall with permanent mark-downs on upscale items. Everything in the food court is free, even Orange Julius.

I don’t know who’s here but I can picture about 90 per cent of you. I hope you’re smiling. I knew very little true sadness in my life, even during its very end. Don’t feel bad for me.

I feel bad for Robin and Will. They have the tougher job. They have to carry on. In time, Will will understand the permanence of this situation. Robin will endure. I know Will has a great foundation. I have been blessed with spending a lot of time with him for the first four years of his life — more than many fathers get. And he will continue to have a loving, affectionate, grizzly bear of a mother, who will bring him up as wisely as anyone could.

Will, I want to tell you three things. I mean them all. First, be kind to other kids. Help them if they are sad. That’s the number one way you can make me proud. Second, be the boy you want to be, and feel good about yourself. You’re pretty great. Third, always wear comfortable shoes. I had to learn this lesson twice. If you feet hurt, ask your mom to buy you bigger shoes. Do those three things, and you will see that life is not that hard.

I ask Robin’s friends who are here to continue to be a friend to her. Reach out to her. Marianne and Robynn B., I hope each of you will make sure she gets out for some much-needed fun. It will be worth it, because she is one of the funniest people I know, and by the second drink she’ll have you laughing.

But I ask my biggest favour of all of you. I’m asking everyone in this room to play a role in bringing up Will.

Grant Summerfield, who owns more books than anyone I know, please bring your grandson up to appreciate all the great books, for kids and adults.

Brian Buck, please teach Will how to tolerate bad luck and bad people with a shrug and a smile.

Bonnie – Ga-Ga. You have been a third parent for nearly five years, helping us in ways I literally can not count. Please just keep doing that. You’re in the two spot now.

Sheila O’Brien – Nana.  Tell Will about me, when I was a boy. I had no stories of my own father’s young life. Please tell Will all the things I did, good and bad.

My cousin Jeff… please tell Will the stories my mother doesn’t know about.

Uncle Scott, you could turn Will into a real little handyman. He likes to fix things.

Auntie Lori, show Will to follow your example and embrace big adventures, no matter where they take you.

Iris Yudai is the best boss I ever had. Iris, you could teach Will a lot about how to do great work through co-operation.

Dean. I never met a better joke-writer than you. Please teach Will how to tell a joke. When he’s older, show him how to write one. Or at least how to steal one.

Colleen Silverthorn and Sean Friske and Brenda and Dan Palsson are two couples we love, who were both unfortunate to have three girls each. I’m inviting you both to escape your pink-pony nightmare by spending time with my boy. Sean and Colleen, teach him to have fun on a lake. Dan, throw him a football and see what happens. And remember — no hockey!

Paul Curtis, of course it falls to you to teach him how to tie a hook and cast a line. And if he catches a fish, remind him to throw it back.

Kim Westad, you shared my love of walking along a rocky, driftwood beach, even in a light rain. When Will and Robin visit Victoria, I hope you, Adrian and Theo take them to a beach.

I’ve named some people, but I‘m appealing to all of you. I want my son to grow up armed with a little bit of the best that people can offer. Since I know only the best people, it should be easy.

Visit my little family. Go on play dates. Look out for my son.

And if you and he happen to walk past a pond or lake, grab some flat, smooth stones, and teach him how to skip them across the water. And if you can make one rock skip three or four long leaps before disappearing, tell him that is just how his father felt most of the time: leaping forward, walking on air.

Thank you.

Love, Mike


—A celebration of Mike’s life was held on Thursday June 4, 2015 in Winnipeg.

Here’s a link to Mike’s memorial service.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s