It's funny how people come and go in your life and its funny how people long forgotten jump up in memory now and then as well.
I went to school with Mike Kline for all 13 years of school and considered him a friend there.
Not a good friend to the point of doing things together outside of school,but someone that you would say hello to in the halls and would not argue about sitting at your table at lunch.
I didn't have much in common with Mike,I was a sports nut and he was totally about automobiles.
Mike and I played on the same baseball team in little league and he quit halfway through.
He wasn't very good and sports just were not his deal.
Mike always was drawing cars and looking at car magazines that might have been in chinese for all I knew!
I remember Mike being a Ford fan and always was talking about Mustangs and Cougars.
My first car was a Mercury Montego and I remember Mike always asking about it.
The only things that I knew was that it broke down a lot and how to drive it!
I would say we were much better friends in those "wonder years" of elementary school,but we always stayed friendly throughout school.
I most remember Mike for two events in school that showed you the type of person that Mike was.
The first was in fifth grade,as a member of "talented and gifted" class that was in its infancy,every person in the very small class was required to enter the local "film festival" with a filmstrip with your original artwork.
This was a major issue for me as my artistic ability consists of a pretty lopsided stick figure.
Mike (who wasn't in the class) asked me if I wanted his help,despite there being nothing in it for him.
I was happy to accept and save a good grade out of what certainly would have been a poor one (back in the days that I cared about those things in school).
Nothing else but kindness from a child,which is not the rule with children!
The other event was in ninth grade as I was in a locker room brawl that saw me getting the better of it and two friends of the fellow on the losing end begin to inch forward to turn the tide a bit.
Mike Kline stepped out of the spectators to stop those guys and said "this is going to finish how it started-one on one".
Mike had respect from people that was earned and yet,I never remember Mike getting into a fight in all the years that I knew him.
Mike saved me from a three on one that day and I never forgot that.
A week or so back,I was picking up my parents mail and went down a different road with the lovely Cherie and pointed out Mike's house along with two others that I went to school on this back road.
I had not thought of him in a while and the ride was nice bringing back a memory or two.
I only remember seeing him once since 1986 and graduation,in a K-Mart that was so long ago I remember Ryan sitting in the front portion of the cart!
So a few days later,I was sitting at the road office as I am tonight and I saw an article about a Mike Kline memorial car show.
I clicked on it since I had just thought of Mike and discovered that it was the Mike Kline that I had known.
Mike had taken his own life in December of 2010 after running his own side business restoring classic cars.
A few guys that I had known from school as Mike's friends were quoted in the story about what kind of man Mike was and it seemed like Mike was still well liked,but had troubles that he just could not deal with.
When we reflect about those times,they seem so simple.
The important things then prove to usually been not so much and look awfully small compared to running a budget,paying the mortgage and putting the bills in order.
But in some cases,because those times seem so simple,they seem better-they weren't,they just had less responsibility.
Take it easy,Mike-You were a good man.
May you find the peace that you were unable to find here......