At 1:27 a.m. this morning Mike Reser passed away in Washington state. While he fell just a few days short of his 60th birthday I don’t think the significance of him holding on until Father’s Day can be lost.
The end came abruptly for my Uncle Mike. Last week at this time he was doing fine. A couple days later my dad’s brother was in a coma at a hospital in Walla Walla, Washington. While initially it looked like Mike might recover his heart issue took a terrible turn for the worse and by the time he was transported to a hospital in Richland, Washington, it became apparent that the end was near. Mike’s seven sisters and brothers stood by his bed the whole time, an absolutely devastating blow to a family that is incredibly close. The ventilator stayed hooked up until Mike’s grown children could travel up from Las Vegas to be with him.
As a child Mike was the uncle who you always heard about but never saw. He lived in Las Vegas so I never really spent much time with him until I was around ten years old. It was then that Mike and his wife Theresa and her son Marty moved to Spokane. We went from never seeing each other to hanging out several times a week. My dad finally got an occasional break from listening to me talk sports non-stop and pestering him to go shoot hoops outside because Mike was now there to fill in. Although they only stayed in Spokane for about two or three years before moving back to Las Vegas something significant happened during that time span. Mike and Theresa welcomed a brand new member to their family, a little boy named Mickey.
My parents, brother, sister, and myself visited Mike a couple times in Las Vegas. Then, much to everyone’s joy, Mike’s family moved to his hometown of Walla Walla about a year ago. With most of his siblings living there and my dad only three hours away it seemed perfect that the whole Reser family was in Washington state once again.
The last couple times I got to see Mike can’t be categorized by anything other than pure happiness. Last July I got out of Missoula and went to visit my family in Spokane for a few days. From there we made the trip to Walla Walla for the Fourth. In the town there is a beautiful green area called Pioneer Park. It was here that my dad’s side of the family had a big ol’ Fourth of July celebration. It was such a great day with good food, cold beer, lots of sun, lawn games, and best of all, family. When Mike showed up at the park I had to give him a double take because we were both wearing the same tacky Wal-Mart Fourth of July shirt that we bought at different locations the night before. Between the laughter we had to remind ourselves that great minds think alike.
The next day was my best day of 2013. I had so much fun and felt so blessed spending it with my family. One of that day’s events was a birthday dinner at the best Mexican restaurant in Walla Walla called El Sombrero. We were celebrating Mike’s belated birthday and my dad’s upcoming one. I got to sit right between the two men of honor and will always remember the oversized sombreros on their heads and the oversized smiles on their faces (Click here for six seconds of that special birthday dinner).
Some people might not have picked up on it right away but Mike was a very smart man. He was very intelligent and had a lot of knowledge in his head and if you talked to him for a while it would become very evident. He also had a very unique sense of humor that could make even the most pessimistic and gloomy person smile. Mike served our country in the Marines. He could fix anything you brought to him. He had a love for sports and a dedication to his family.
After such an amazing start to my new chapter here in Myrtle Beach I came face-to-face with one of the harsh negative realities of living on the other side of the country away from my loved ones. While there is Skype and while there are telephones I couldn’t be there for Mike, my dad, and the rest of my extended family this past week. For that I feel very guilty. I just want my family to know that I am thinking about them.
Thank you Uncle Mike for being a positive influence in my life. I will miss you and will try to carry on your spirit as best as I can. Don’t Blink.