I have mixed feelings about continuing to mark this day. While I still enjoy posting on Mike's birthday, this is a day I'd just as soon forget. But I realize there are a lot of folks out there thinking about Mike today and I wanted you to know I'm with you.
I've actually been thinking about Mike a lot lately. He's never far from my thoughts at any given moment but lately...I don't know. It seems like every movie I see or book I read reminds me of him in one way or another. Suze and I recently managed to squeeze in a viewing CAPTAIN AMERICA. I was so blown away with well-realized the Avengers universe is in this series of films and it popped into my head that Mike passed away before the first IRON MAN movie came out. He would have loved all of these movies (especially THOR, I believe) and would have gotten such a kick out of the fact that they were being done. I'm so sad he never got to see any of them.
Mike loved movies as much as I do. And lately, I've found myself, through no conscious effort, watching a lot of the stuff we grew up watching and enjoying together.
I checked out the miniseries SHOGUN on DVD from our local library a couple weeks ago. I wasn't even aware it had been released. But the minute I saw the box, memories of sitting in front of the TV every night for a week with Mike flooded into my head. This was back in 1980 so I was 12 and Mike was 17. As a teenager, Mike was fascinated with Japanese culture. This was probably because of Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL stories. It was perfect timing. We absolutely loved the miniseries, absorbing everything. We even started humming the theme song for weeks afterward and speaking the few words of Japanese we'd managed to learn. I devoured the set, watching it every free minute instead of doing a million other things I should have been doing. And I felt like Mike was watching it again with me. I had a smile on my face that whole week.
Mike was really into Karate and took lessons for a while. He and — because I emulated him in all things — I started watching every Chuck Norris movie that came out. They ranged from awful to watchable but Mike took me to every one. He even got to meet Norris once when he came to speak at Mike's Karate dojo. Feeling nostalgic, I recently picked up a bunch of Norris' DVDs on Amazon cheap and started watching them again. They're just as awful as ever but it was nice to relive those memories of going to see them with my big brother.
The last movie I ever saw with Mike was a showing of LAND OF THE DEAD in Charlotte during the Heroes Convention. Mike and I were both Romero fans from way back and we jumped at the chance to see the movie together. Unfortunately, there were some loud guys talking in the row behind us and while Mike just ignored them, I couldn't take it. I got up and moved down several rows and so we didn't really see the movie together. If I had known...
Anyway. I miss Mikey more than ever. It doesn't sting quite as bad as it used to but as time goes by, I'm reminded of him more and more often. Everything I see, say or do seems to bring back memories. I guess that's a good thing. I just can't believe it's been four years since he left us. Suzanne and I were talking the other day and we agreed that it feel like he could just walk through the door this Thanksgiving and we almost wouldn't be surprised. It's like he's not really gone.
Certainly, I miss his work like any other fan. But I am especially missing just being able to pick up the phone and talk to him and seek his advice. He could make me laugh like nobody else could. And I loved how I would know that Mike was on the other end of the line when Suze picked up the phone because of how he would get her laughing until she "tee-heeed."
Worst of all, now that it's been four years, we've gotten to spend more time with Charlie than Mike did. That just seems wrong. As much as we love Charlie (and we love him dearly), he will always be Mike's "little buddy." Hell, Mike even drew him into the last work he completed. :)
So, thanks everybody for the kind thoughts today. I appreciate it more than you can know.