Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye, Mike


I didn't know Mike well... but I liked him at once.  Partly because he looked like so many of the men on my father's side of the family with his white hair and boyish face, partly because he was such a pleasant fella. He was a student at Wildacres when I taught there year before last -- not in my class but he introduced himself because I know his sister.  We both tended to show up early for breakfast and we got to know each other a bit over the breakfast casserole and turkey sausage.

Mike was working on a book that combined his love of western North Carolina and fly fishing.  We talked about that and about inconsequential things. I really can't say I knew him well. But I liked him well and we emailed back and forth a few times when his book came out . . . and when he started a blog . . . and when he was diagnosed with cancer -- a bad, aggressive sort of cancer.

He continued to work on his next book and the last time I heard from him, he said the treatment was going well. . . and I began to hope that I'd see him at Wildacres this year. . . early at the dining hall, like me. 


Alas, his sister emailed me yesterday that Mike is gone. And, though our friendship was such a  casual one, his going has left a Mike-sized hole in the Wildacres experience as far as I'm concerned. 

I'm so glad he wrote his book -- I wish there'd been time for more. 

In her email yesterday, his sister said:  

"You will appreciate that he kept his sense of humor up to the end. In advising his wife Paulette about his obituary, he instructed her, 'Don’t tell people to donate to a charity in my honor—tell them to buy my book!'”

The words of a real writer. . .

It's a lovely book and I  have it on my Kindle, all the more precious because I know how much it meant to him. . . and because there won't be another.

For those of you who might be interested, here's what Ron Rash had to say:"Revenge on the Fly is a beautiful meditation on the ties that bind us to family and place. Michael Cavender is a gifted writer, an exciting new voice in North Carolina literature."  Ron Rash, New York Times best-selling author of Serena and The Cove.

Farewell, Mike. You are missed. . .

13 comments:

Thérèse said...

What a sweet tribute!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Not having known him, I at least share your sorrow at the 'Mike sized hole' in your life. When doing ancestry work I am aware of all the lives that have been before, and that their passions and sorrows were just as vivid as ours are. May his friends and family know peace.

Brian Miller said...

i am sorry for your loss...no matter the depth of our relationship, its the connection we share and knowing that empty space will be there next time you go back....

Jim Egerton said...

Until I started following your blog I did not realise how much I missed Western North Carolina where I spent the first 16 years of my life.

Your lose is all of our loses. This loose knit group of people on you sight share your love of literature, mountains and nature. Mike rests among all those things and places.

Merisi said...

Thinking of you, Vicki.
Much love, Merisi

Anonymous said...

Vicki, my deepest condolences for the loss of your friend. "Death can take away a lot of things, but not the stories that have been written down."
---Colin McCann

Deana the Queena

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I agree with the others - what a lovely tribute and beautifully written. I too am very sorry for your loss.
Sam

Darla said...

Lovely. Your reminiscence of Mike shows how we all touch each other's lives, even in smallish ways that can be unexpected or profound.

katy gilmore said...

Such a lovely tribute Vicki, it captures that ineffable connection we feel with certain people. I am sorry you and the world have lost Mike.

jennyfreckles said...

That's sad. Such 'small' friendships are what makes the world go round in a much better way (a bit like blog friends, I guess.) Lovely that there is something tangible left of Mike in his book.

Polly Iyer said...

Lovely tribute to a lost friend.

Kath Marsh said...

I am so sorry Mike is no longer tying flies in Western Carolina, but what a lovely Goodbye you've given him.

NCmountainwoman said...

It always surprises me that the death of someone I knew rather casually should affect me so. Lovely tribute to Mike. I love his sense of humor so I'm going to look for his book.