Saturday

[08.23.87 - 07.01.07] - for my brother... by meghan.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” marks the beginning of the epic Star Wars trilogy, a personal favorite of my younger brother Michael. Similarly, his journey started in a place far, far away, and many may argue that White Fish, Montana is in a completely different galaxy than Shelton. In our version, perhaps Michael saw himself as Luke Skywalker, a young man on a spiritual journey to find his place in the universe and history. I, therefore, would be Princess Leia, the beautiful and adventurous heroine… and though my mom would love being compared to Queen Amadala, my dad is not Darth Vader… unless you make him really mad. In fact, I think he’s more of a mix between Hans Solo and Chewbacca – especially if you’ve seen him with his shirt off.

My boyfriend has insisted that “The Empire Strikes Back” is the greatest movie of the trilogy. If you do not recall, that’s the one in the middle where everything goes wrong for our heroes. At the end of the movie, there is little resolve and the audience is left with a dark ending and each character’s fate hanging in midair.

This hardly seems like the kind of movie that anyone would claim as a favorite, except for one important detail: “The Empire Strikes Back” is not about a beginning or an end, it’s about a journey - a fantastic examination of our heroes’ ability to deal with love and loss, success and defeat.

Standing here is by far the hardest task I have had to endure in my life. We’re here to mark an end, a time of grief that can never be expressed correctly in words. Yet the importance of our presence is not to signify a single horrific event, but to celebrate the epic journey of my brother, Michael Robert McMahon.

Between all of us, there are surely thousands of moments that stand out. I would like to briefly share some of my family’s memories of my brother with all of you. My dad recently told me the thing he admired most about Michael was how quickly he learned a new talent, whether it be the guitar, sports or how to replace parts on his car. My mother always admired Michael’s sensitivity and humbleness and will greatly miss just sitting on the couch, snuggling and watching movies with him. They were both amazed at how many lives he touched in such a short time.


One Christmas, I believe it had to be the coldest day of the year, Michael would not come inside – there was a brand new dirt bike with his name on it. Standing next to him, freezing his butt off, my dad says that Michael has never been happier.

Another frozen evening included Michael and Johnny, each holding a rope attached to Dad’s truck, snowboarding around the neighborhood. When they were finished Michael looked at my dad and said, “Dad, that was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

Michael loved the time he spent with his family and wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. He loved holidays because he got to hear the stories of how Uncle Tom lost his marbles in elementary school, how Uncle John was afraid of needles and hid on top of the car and how Pap Pap had to stand up to drive my dad’s truck because he couldn’t reach the peddles. One day I came out of my room to find Michael with underwear on his head, a towel wrapped around his neck and him standing on a snowboard pretending to be Captain Underpants.

Growing up with Michael was always interesting, he was a ton of fun to be around and he taught me so many things. Michael managed to keep the same group of friends from his days at Mohegan School until now, which only shows his dedication to the ones he loved. Michael was the pride and joy of his parents’ lives and of mine.

[pause]

Luke’s best friend had been frozen in carbonite, his hand cut off and the worst enemy of the Rebels turned out to be his father. Times were harder than ever and there was no easy solution. In a moment of incredible maturity, he sought further help from a wrinkled little Muppet named Yoda.

Michael showed the same character.

When times were at their worst and there was no way out, he never gave up. He surrounded himself with a support network, a large group of family and friends that would be there for him always; whether he needed some pole vaulting advice, guitar lessons, new Italian sayings, a competent spotter, better brush technique, lizard potty training, new ways of immobilizing an enemy or a warm body to cuddle with on the couch.

Likewise, he supported many with his own talents. He was the only man to ever give me valuable fashion advice. My mom is not afraid of dark alleys as he constantly demonstrated self-defense on her (or with her). Some of our cousins have been completely schooled in the way of the Samarai and there are many young gymnasts who will not likely forget his strength and motivation.

Luke Skywalker finished his trilogy with a grand celebration, surrounded by friends, family and those hundreds that he touched with his actions. Today’s solemn occasion may not be the happy event that we dream about in our hearts, but if you look to your right and left you will see the same group: family and friends; a small representation of the hundreds of whom shared Michael’s journey. Do not mark this day with mourning, instead embed a shared memory of my dear brother in your hearts. In this way, he will live on forever and his journey shall continue in all of you.

5 comments:

Pam Hannock said...

Michael was my nephew and God son. Although we lived on different coasts and saw each other infrequently, when we did it was like we had never been apart. He was funny, talented, sensitive, sweet and just an all around great person. In his short time with us he touched many lives. I will never understand why he had to leave us so soon, but a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson seems very appropriate....
"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children - to leave the world a better place - to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived... this is to have succeeded". Michael succeeded in making my world a better place. He will always be in my heart. I love and miss him.

Aunt Pam

Anonymous said...

Michael will be forever missed by all who knew him.

Our hearts ache when we think of all he will miss by passing at such a young age, but we are comforted in knowing that he lived a good life and that he left a lasting impression on all whom came in contact with him.

Time will never dim our memory of him and for that he will live on forever.

His interests and talents were amazing as his love for his family.

We will miss him terribly and we will miss him always.

Love Auntie Lorrie, Uncle Mike, cousins Michael and Ryan

Anonymous said...

I worked with Michael only for a short time and just knew he was a good kid and that he came from a GOOD family. I am very sad to think his young life was ended so soon.

Anonymous said...

It has taken me a long time to leave a message here - much longer than I thought it would. Michael, unlike my other grandchildren was not born in CT but in Montana. When he was about 2 months old, his parents moved back to CT and came to my house and opened the car door and handed Michael to me. He was just beautiful, with big brown eyes and it was so good to hold him for the first time. I missed that feeling because he was so far away. Along with him came his sister, Meghan and a lovely little girl that we had spent time with in CT and visited in Montana.
...Words are hard to come ...We love you and miss you so very much.
Love, Grammy and GG

Anonymous said...

There is not a day that goes by that we don't think of you Michael. You touched our hearts in a special way and we love you very much. There are no words to describe the loss we all feel. We were always so proud of all your accomplishments and we will never forget you singing for us. (Lindsay was very impressed!) Life will never be the same without you, but you will always be close to our hearts.

Love Always,
Uncle John, Aunt Linda, Jon and Lindsay