We said goodbye today (Jan 19) to my second cousin, Michael David McGuire, who died suddenly last Wednesday, the 13th. The service was beautiful, the memories bringing both tears and laughter for family, friends, and his beloved working family from the Michigan State Police community throughout many locales.
My father’s family is large. While I know my first cousins once removed (my father’s cousins) well, I don’t know my second cousins the same way. I was the first born of the second cousins, which easily number several dozen or more, some I’ve yet to meet. My aunt and uncle were only three years older than me, with some of dad’s cousins only eight or ten years older. As a child in the middle of this big boisterous family, I preferred listening to the adult conversations, sitting in a corner of the big farmhouse kitchen, than playing in the parlor with the little kids. The adults’ laughter was always infectious. Still is today.
As for all of the second cousins’ kids, well, I can’t keep track of them all. In fact, I’ll confess that due to my living in the South for a decade and a career kept me away from a number of reunions and family gatherings, I have a lot of catching up to do.
When I was growing up, from time to time, because I was older, I was asked to babysit for my second cousins, which included Mike and his younger brother, Robert. The job was always an adventure, as they were close in age, would collaborate with each other and hide from me or be investigating something they shouldn’t. They were always in action.
The next time I would saw him, over 20 years later, he was an adult, married, and with kids.
Unfortunately, because we are a large family, there are many funerals and today was one of those days. While we always enjoy reuniting with family members and being introduced to kids and spouses we may not have met, we never like the circumstances, such as was today’s event.
I attended Monday’s visitation and while driving home, I sensed Mike’s presence, but I didn’t hear anything. Just a comforting presence.
The next morning, however, when I got up, I keep hearing the word, “Giddy up!” All that morning I heard it said as a gleeful exclamation. Not a part of my everyday vernacular, I knew I was hearing Mike’s voice.
During the service, that included a bagpipe, the Michigan State Police guard, who additionally provided a flag to Linda, his wife, recordings of favorite music, there was one particular silence where I felt the urge to say “Giddy up, boys. Giddy up.” The urge was strong and I sensed it would bring laughter, but I refrained. As confident as I was that this was Mike speaking, I questioned the timing.
As fellow troopers got up one-by-one and started telling stories about Mike, including hearing he would tell them to “Saddle up,” as they rolled out on various duties, I discovered he was all about making people laugh, that he enjoying laughing as much as he enjoyed his family, fishing, and his work. Saying “Giddy up” in that silence was something Mike would have done.
Mike was a marine who served in the Gulf War, with a commanding presence due to his height and demeanor. He served undercover, provided governor protection, to name a few of his various teams, and had been a medical first responder with his local fire department.
The love and affection his family, friends, and police brethren have for him was easily felt. Deemed as a tough guy, he also had a soft heart for his family, friends, and the people he served, and anyone who needed help.
Mike was only 52, far too young to be gone. The service was truly a celebration. As a collected group, we provided him a fitting, loving send-off, which was surrounded and sheltered with his presence.
Giddyup, Mike. Giddyup.