My Dearest Michael,

We met on the dance floor at Boppers (Charlotte) in 1998. Remember? You asked me to slow dance and I said “No” then asked you to come back for a fast dance…and you did. We spent the next several months dancing and getting to know each other. Then you asked me out and I almost said “No” again because you cussed a little too much for my taste. I look back and smile at how absurd my reasoning was. However, I saw something in you and decided to say “Yes.” Our first date was Valentine’s Day, 1999.

After that I couldn’t find a reason not to continue seeing you. We’d spend hours laughing. Even your mother said we acted like a couple of teenagers. After a two-year courtship we took a trip to the beach over July 4th and returned married. It was spontaneous, exciting and absolutely crazy, but it worked for us. Of course, then we threw a huge reception all decorated in red-white-and blue. Even the M&Ms were white and blue. So, imagine my surprise when I found you’d kept several bags after all these years.

Unfortunately, only four months after we were married I was stricken with a chronic illness. I begged you to leave me because I felt sure I’d be in a wheelchair the rest of my life. You stayed, but we weren’t the same. I was angry at first, but then I understood. Being the youngest, with two older sisters you’d always been looked after, therefore, you were at a loss as to how to look after me.

Even though those were difficult years I remember you pushing me around the stores in a wheelchair acting like it was a race. You did the grocery shopping, laundry, cleaned house and cooked dinner. Going dancing, on vacation, or just a simple outing had come to a halt. I was, for the most part, bedridden. Yet, we tried to make the best of it.

Even though years later I was well enough to get around, the atmosphere of our relationship had changed. I was angry at first. With you, with me, with God. Then I started reading Dr. Wayne Dyer and I realized I needed to change the way I look at things. With that realization came forgiveness. With forgiveness came peace.

We parted ways but never severed our bond of friendship. You were the only real father my daughter had known, and “Grandpa Mike” to her children. You showed me what true friendship really means. Your kindness will never be forgotten. Anyone who was lucky enough to know you, or even meet you, was blessed.

In the twenty years since I’ve met you, I only heard you say you didn’t like one person. In the world we live in today, that is amazing. Never jealous or spiteful, you treated everyone like a friend. I know for a fact you’d give someone the shirt off your back…even if it was the last one you owned. You were “that guy.”

It pains me greatly to say ‘good-bye,’ so I won’t. I’ll just say, “Until we meet again my dearest Michael, know you are loved by your family, my family and all your many, many friends.”

Love and prayers,

Friends: If you were fortunate enough to know Michael Fairchild, then you know how special he was to everyone who called him ‘friend.’ It is with great sadness that I penned this column today. However, it is fitting that a tribute to such a wonderful, kind and generous man be my 500th column.
Michael Fairchild