I just call him Mikey, though I'm sure he prefers Mike. He was 6 years old when I first started delivering packages to his mom's coffee shop/video store. Always a very friendly boy, he never hesitated yelling "hi John!" every time I walked in. We just hit it off. He was a happy little guy and seemed to look up to me as if my uniform meant I was someone official.
I remember when he first got his license, he pulled up in front of the shop, jumped out and left the truck running. (It's a small town, remember) Of course, I couldn't let an opportunity like this slip through my fingers so I jumped in and drove it around the back of the building and hid in the bushes to watch his face as he ran out to find his truck gone! The fact that my truck was parked nearby was a dead giveaway to Mike. He knew immediately it was me. "Joooohn! I know it was you, you can come out now" and of course, I couldn't contain my laughter anyway so he came over and slugged me in the shoulder the way a guy does when he knows he's been had.
Well it wasn't six months later I'm guessing that I was the one being 'had'. I had delivered the usual Tuesday videos and coffee beans and had a few minutes to burn so I decided to have a cup of coffee. I stayed a little longer than I should have, and when I tore out the front door to dive into my truck...you guessed it, it was gone! I wasn't sure who the culprit was at first, since I've been known to mess with more people than just Mikey. But just like me, Mikey wasn't one to contain his laugh well either. It was my turn to take a whack at his shoulder.
One day last summer I was driving down Main street in my little brown cruiser when a motorcycle veers toward me, flashing it's lights and honking it's horn. I couldn't tell who it was since the rider was wearing a helmet so I veered right back and flashed my lights and honked my horn...just because I can! When I looked in my mirror I saw the bike pull a quick U-turn and jumped in right behind me and the rider started waving wildly for me to pull over. Remember now, this is a one horse town and I know full-well that there's no money in the budget for a motorcycle cop, so I kept going. Finally, the biker had had enough. He pulled around me, slowed to a snail's pace and pulled me over. Off jumps this big dude. It was Mikey. He wanted to show me his new bike. He knows I have a bike too and wanted me to be the first one to see his new toy. Even though he's now a big 23 year-old man, with me he's still Mikey.
I saw Mikey for the first time today since he was diagnosed with bone cancer a couple of months ago. He was on crutches. The bone in his leg is seventy percent eaten through by cancer. I grabbed him by the shoulder and hugged him and told him I was praying for him. His mom was standing next to him and when her eyes caught mine, I lost it. I suddenly had a deep jolt of pain run through me...I suddenly realized how rich I truly am.
When I crawled back into my truck with tears in my eyes, my phone made that music it makes when I have a text message. It said "Hi dad! I LOVE YOU-have a great day!" -Jess
What a day.