Thank you to Father Cronin for opening up the church to our family to celebrate Michael. Also, thank you to Deacon Raby, to the altar servers and other church volunteers for helping to make today special.
Let me start by saying that I am not a huge fan of speaking of Michael in the past tense. While his physical presence is no longer with us, his spirit, his love, his compassion, courage and integrity remain and live on forever inside our hearts, our minds and our actions.
In the closing scene of the movie Troy, Odysseus stands at the funeral pyre of the Greek hero Achilles. As he lights the ceremonial fire he says…“If they ever tell my story, let them say that I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but their names will never die”
Michael is a giant. He is my brother, my best friend and my hero. And I am proud to say that I walk beside him…yesterday, today and always. Michael was many things including a faithful Catholic, a proud American, a dedicated son, a loyal & humble brother, a fun-loving uncle, a fierce friend, an inspirational coach, a patient mentor, an avid Dallas Cowboy & UConn Husky fan, an annoyingly early morning texter and an extremely structured M & M eater. Michael was a devoted husband of 28 beautiful years to his loving wife Gina. Mike and Gina shared an amazing marriage and life with one another. Each one complimented the other perfectly. True partners in crime. Through life’s hardest trials and tribulations, they unwaveringly stood by each other and built a beautiful life and family. They truly were better because of each other. Gina, Michael was so thankful for you. He knew what you shared was special, never took you for granted and he loved you with all his heart. Of all the titles Michael held, his most cherished was that of father… to Stephanie, Andrew, Brian and Zachary. He committed himself to being the absolute best dad he could be… and he succeeded. He was present and involved in each of their lives. A typical Saturday for Mike would be to get up early with Stephanie and go jump out of an airplane. He would then race home, and yes I do mean race, to pick up Andrew so they could go to the shooting range. As if that weren’t enough, he’d pick up Zachary and it was off to the climbing wall. The day would usually conclude with family dinner and a movie or a game. A month full of special memories for most, Mike accomplished it all in one day. Just seeing the way Mike was with his children, inspired others to be better parents. Stephanie, Andrew & Zachary, your father was extremely proud of each one of you…. for your talents, your accomplishments but more importantly for the genuinely good people you have become.
As far as for being a son, Michael set the bar extremely high, much to the chagrin of Carolyn and me. The love and caring that Mike had for our parents lasted his entire lifetime. He was proud to be Anne & Joe Krar’s son. He was always there for them whenever needed or called upon, whether to help take down a tree or provide a comforting hug when he thought they needed it. Mom and Dad, thank you for sharing the beautiful gift of Michael with us. He embodied the best traits of you both. You taught Michael that the measure of a man was his character and not the size of his wallet. It’s a lesson that he lived every day of his life. Don’t get me wrong, Michael always possessed a little deviousness. One evening when we were young kids, Mike and Carolyn were horse playing and something broke. A vase or frame, I think. I was in an entirely different room. Neither of them fessed up to Mom and Dad, so they did what every reasonable parent would do, they punished us all. We were sent to kneel at the foot of their bed while they went to watch TV. As the time passed, and our knees grew more sore, Michael eventually convinced me that I should confess to breaking the vase. He told me that because I was the youngest, Mom and Dad liked me more and therefore would take it easy on me. Sounded good to me. So with pride in my eye for thinking I was the favorite, I marched down the stairs to talk to my parents. I told them that I broke the vase and that Michael & Carolyn had nothing to do with it. I remember the “GOTCHA” look in Mikes eye as we passed in the hallway. I was sent to bed early while he and Carolyn joined Mom and Dad downstairs to watch TV.
Michael’s legacy are the very principles that guided him throughout his beautiful life. He lived his life filled with faith, love, integrity and moral conviction. If you ever asked Mike about these things, he would reply simply, “that’s just what you do.” It is incumbent upon us to remember how Mike lived. Remember how he selflessly treated other people with kindness & respect. Remember how he was always there to help….no questions asked. How he volunteered his time or generously donated his money to charity, never asking for recognition. Remember his work ethic and how he pushed himself and others to be the best versions of themselves.
We need to remember these things and apply them to our lives. Live them. Share them with others. For love, compassion, kindness and integrity are infectious. If we do these things then Michael truly lives on forever. Gina, the kids and our family wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have given their support, compassion and love throughout this very difficult time. I know in my heart that he would not want us crying, rather, Michael would want us to all to remember the good times we shared with him.
I’d like to close with a story that just recently happened. Ironically, it’s a lesson that Mike imparted to us as he lay in the hospital bed the Monday after his cardiac arrest. It typifies exactly who he is. I had gone back to the office after dinner to clean up some unfinished work. Alicia joined me to keep me company, but also and more importantly, to make sure I didn’t stay longer than the time I told her I would be there. Before we left the office, I sat at Mike’s desk to take a look at his daily planner. More of a steno pad than a calendar. As I scanned through the pages, I noticed a recurring message. At the top of each and every page was Mike’s handwritten message to himself…….Best!:) As I was unsure of its meaning,
I asked Gina about it. She explained Best!:) as follows;
Best: was Mike’s message to give your best every day and
make every day the best day possible.
Smiley Face: was Mike’s reminder to be happy and treat everyone with kindness.
Such a profound message in 4 letters, a punctuation mark and an emoji.
What a world it would be if we all lived this.
It would be just like Michael, the Best!:)