25 years ago today I lost a great friend and today I remember.
I met Mike Fencl towards the end of 1983 and over the course of 3 years we became great friends. He was a very fascinating person and great joy existed when I was in his presence. Upon reflection, he seemed to not have alot of free time and seemed to be forever grounded. I can still hear his voice, saying the same thing every Friday afternoon, "I'm grounded this weekend."
The time we spent together seems like it was not too frequent. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. It was a lifetime ago. We would often spend hours riding around town on a Flying Dutchman bicycle on loan from Henry Rodriguez; Mike pedaling and me on the handlebars screaming with glee. I spent many an evening hanging out at Swensen's Ice Cream Parlor while he worked. He made you just want to be around him all the time.
Mike loved music and was crazy about this man called Paul Weller, this man called Dave Wakeling, and this man called Bob Dylan. One day he gave me what I thought was a poem and it was called "I'll Remember You." I remember feeling so special because Mike had written me a poem. He never once told me it was a Bob Dylan song and I never asked.
For a couple of years I carried this poem around that Mike had written for me and I even framed it at one point. Grief stricken at his funeral I asked the minister to read it, the poem Mike had written just for me, and he did.
I could have happily spent the rest of my days thinking that Mike had written this beautiful poem just for me but such is life; someone asked me at the end of the funeral if I knew that that was a Bob Dylan song. No. I actually did not.
25 years have gone by and I am still gutted that you died Mike. No one that was privileged enough to know you has ever forgotten how you died, when you died, or where you died. Someone told me not too long ago that they have never once passed through the intersection of New Stine Road and Wilson Avenue in Bakersfield, California without thinking of you. I have never once passed through the intersection of New Stine Road and Wilson Avenue in Bakersfield, California without thinking of you or how I accidentally drove upon the scene of your crash after the ambulance had taken you away and saw your shoe lying in the road.
The day after you died, on May 14, 1986, 38 year-old Doug Hoxworth received your heart and lungs and lived an extraordinary existence as the 34th heart and lung transplant recipient at Stanford Medical Center. He lived 22 full years with gifts that were generously donated by your mother Marion.
Doug passed away Nov. 13, 2008, in Wasilla, Alaska.
Doug Hoxworth said about you in 2006, "I think about him all the time. I talk to him. I say, 'Thank you, Michael.'"
I'll remember you.
Photo: The Waist High Collection