When I was 16, I moved to Ft Wayne and attended Bishop Luers High School, where I met my friend and confidante, Michael Wade Tackett. His parents, Darrell and Cindy, opened the doors to their home and welcomed us to hang out there. I don’t know if they realize how much that meant to us – it’s so important for a couple of teenage boys to have a place to discuss the trials and tribulations of adolescence.
One night in particular, this was about twenty years ago, it snowed in Ft Wayne and Mike suggested that we take a walk in the snow and discuss the meaning of life. Mike tended to think a lot so we got along great. Well, I thought walking in the snow at night was about the best idea any one could have, so off we went, meandering around Waynedale. If I recall, our conversation covered our views on God and Women which were basically one and the same view – total and complete awe. But we mostly talked about our uncertain futures. What would the future hold? What were our hopes and dreams? Would we love and be loved? Mike veered from very practical ideas such as becoming an attorney to more radical dreams of being a famous actor. I really encouraged the actor idea because I myself thought being a famous novelist sounded about right. Well, we finally settled on the idea that we didn’t know what the future would be like – it was a great big mystery – and there was such a palpable thrill in accepting the unknown while the snowflakes fell all around us. We were so enraptured by that moment. We were in a transcendent state. It was a spiritual moment for a couple of 17 or 18 year old kids. As our walk came to an end, we decided that one day when we were old and gray we would co-author a book entitled “Walks on Snowy Evenings”. We thought when we were old, instead of writing about an unknown future, we could write about what would then be our known past and what we had learned from life.
Let's face it, most of our crazy dreams of youth didn't come true. Mike did become an attorney, but to my knowledge fame on the stage was elusive just as the great American novel was for me. Can we just for once admit how hard this life can be? Mike was not immune from suffering out here in the real world. None of us are. Each and every one of us suffers, sometimes so much so that our hearts just split right open. Mike opened his heart to me and it was a beautiful gift. He shared his hopes and dreams, his hopelessness and despair. It was real, out here in the real world. He loved me, he loved his friends, he loved his family, and we all loved him. And when I really stop to think about that snowy walk, that's all we really wanted -- to love and be loved. So, we've both been lucky -- we've experienced so much love right along with our suffering.
Alright, Mike, my friend, here's an excerpt of a poem by T. McGrath that I thought you would like. It's called Epitaph:
Again, traveler, you have come a long way led by that star.
But the kingdom of the wish is at the other end of the night.
May you fare well, companero; let us journey together, joyfully.
Thank you for writing this very moving tribute to Mike. I worked with Mike in Belleville, Illinois and agree that he was a young man of character and integrity. I am sorry for your loss. The family will certainly be in my prayers during this very difficult time.