MichaelDeanKetcham

Mike was the perpetual child, retarded to the level of a 7 year old for most of his life. In spite of our parents’, and, later, my, constant admonitions to not talk to strangers, Mike talked to EVERYONE, asking them to come see him sometime, for some pop money and to take him for rides. And, because he was so incredibly charming, he often got his wish. To know Mike was to love him. He was most in his glory with a fresh pack of paper and a new assortment of colored pens. Throw in a little money for the pop machine and Mike was a friend for life!

 

As my role transformed from one of younger sibling, sitting eagerly on his lap as he delightedly read to me, to one of guardian, overseeing all of his needs these past 20 years, Mike taught me many things:

  • PATIENCE: never tiring of my perpetual delays of most of what he wanted to do.
  • HOPE: Someday, maybe he would get to drive a car, find a girlfriend with a car, start his own beauty shop and take long trips to faraway zoos.
  • LOVE: Mike was the litmus test by whom I chose my wife. As my wife, Lisa, will tell you, I waited to propose to her until AFTER she met Mike. Anyone who couldn’t accept Mike and the HUGE part he was, and would always be, of my life was not even an option to me.
  • FORGIVENESS: Mike, to my knowledge, NEVER uttered a swear word and never held a grudge against anyone for anything. He was just as glad to hear from someone who had not spoken to him in decades as he was to speak to me, maybe more so.

 

I am who I am today, in no small measure, thanks to knowing, loving and being loved by Mike. The void left by Mike’s passing is beyond words.

 

I want to take a moment to give thanks and recognition to all the people who were so special to Mike:

  • 1st and foremost, my wife Lisa, whom he referred to as his “Leesee”. She grew beautifully into the role of mother to him and I couldn’t have chosen a better wife and partner.
  • Mike’s long-time, close friend Ken Gilmore, whom Mike met, by the way, while walking past Ken’s house approximately 27 years ago and striking up a conversation with the stranger he saw sitting on his porch. Ken took Mike on literally hundreds and hundreds of trips to zoos, train rides to see the autumn leaves, rides to see the lights at Christmas, BINGO excursions and more. Mike could not have asked for a more loyal and caring friend.
  • The entire staff at Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community, with a special recognition of Michelle Proper and her girls, for taking such incredible care of Mike these past 7 years and during his final days in particular.
  • John and Mary Haas, classmates of Mike’s when he attended the “Blue Barn” for his schooling over 40 years ago, and who visited him regularly, particularly during his final days. He was so delighted to catch up with you and to find out what had become of his many teachers from so long ago.
  • The entire staff at Lakeland Area Hospice who worked so diligently to keep Mike comfortable in his final days.
  • The Meadville Medical Center Emergency Room staff and the ICU staff who cared for Mike during his multiple trips there during his final months.
  • Malinda Faulds-Klingensmith, who served as Mike’s nurse when he lived with us, and her daughter, Taylor Faulds, who saw to it that we were comfortable during the long nights we spent at the nursing home during Mikes final days.

 

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