I will never forget the time Dean came home and said, "You would not believe what happened today." He explained that Mike and Carolyn had come into the office to discuss the right to burn their leaves...a man in a wheelchair and his blind wife.

We both got a chuckle out of that and thought, "What???"

Little did we know that our knowledge of what this couple could and couldn't do was about to be challenged by two very capable people.

A few years passed and Dean worked with Mike and Carolyn throughout the community covering events that they would be at.

Mike was the first one to call us and ask, "How can I help you get Vinton Today off the ground?" We said chuckling, "Buy an ad?" They did. They came down to within the next 24 hours and, bought an ad. They bought several ads over the past four years.

Mike was an avid computer guy so he just loved pulling Vinton Today up on the computer. On Sundays, before the service started, he'd find Dean at church to discuss the stories. Usually it was to find out more or ask questions or to just chat.

Following the service sometimes I'd see Mike's wheelchair headed to the front of the church, hang a right, wheel over to the piano and he'd have a grin on his face. With a wink and nod of his head, he's always say, "Good job!" then do a U-turn and head back to talk to someone else.

That always made me smile.

Then we'd head off to our Sunday School class where we'd discuss all kinds of topics. Usually we stick to the Biblical discussions, sometimes we find a rabbit trail and take it, but whatever the discussion Mike would join in with, "Well now...." and then the conversation would take yet another turn.

As I sat and waited for Dean to arrive at the church for visitation last night, I was amazed at the constant stream of people filing through the doors. We were there for over an hour, and when we left there was still a line waiting.

As I left, I thought of many funerals I've been to, where a small handful of people showed up, mostly family.

Or I thought of my reaction to hearing someone that was trouble passing away and my first reaction was, "Goodbye to bad rubbish".

So the man in the wheelchair, who must have touched almost everyone in our small town, in one way or another, either his kind words or something he did for someone else, maybe you caught a fish in his quarry...all those little things add up to a large hole in all of our lives.

I don't know how he met all of the people that I saw there last night, but I know he and his bride got out and about to more places that Dean and I do,to help to make the stories we report.

These two folks put a lot of us to shame.

The next time you meet someone that society teaches you has a disability, look again, it's probably just a disguise for someone really, really awesome. In fact, the first thing I thought about when I first met Mike and Carolyn was of their so called "disabilities" and after I got to know them, it became one of those things that when someone says, "But we need to do this differently or at a different location for Mike..." I have to stop and figure out why that is.

Mike, it's been a while since you got to run down the field and chase a football, but I expect there's a football field up there with your name on it. Yeah, I know the Bible says nothing about football fields, but I can hear you saying, "Well now...."

So from Vinton, a little dot here on earth, we are all cheering for you.

And straight from my KJV and a twist of JV (Just Val) "You have fought a good fight, you have finished your course, you have kept the faith: there is laid up for you a crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall give you..."

So Mike, as I look around at all the people you impressed I say, with a wink and a nod to you, "Mike, GOOD JOB!"

For more about Mike

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Comments (4)

Thanks Valerie,
Yours is a very nicely written tribute to both of them.
I wish Mrs. Hibbs the best. She's a wonderful woman.
By: Thomas Pingenot on June 6th 1:44pm
What a wonderful tribute to Mike and kind words about Carolyn. Mike was a classmate of mine - Washington 1960.
By: Gretchen Holtz Kopecky on June 6th 2:46pm
A very well written tribute, Valerie. A number of us locally served on the Garrison Old Creamery Theatre Board with Mike. It was a time when the OCTC was faced with many challenges. Mike was a valued member who always did a variety of things to sustain the acting company and its productions. It was a time when their board was very "hands on". Its members didn't just attend meetings, but helped out in any way possible. Maybe Mike couldn't do physical upkeep, plant flowers or pull weeds, but he always did his share in other ways to promote the Old Creamery Theatre! Many times without fanfare or public knowledge.
By: Janet Woodhouse on June 6th 3:29pm
Thanks Val for saying this tribute so well. He will be missed. Blessings and comfort to Carolyn and family.
By: Julie Hansen on June 6th 9:03pm

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