Barry Hastings: Contemplations on the passing of a faithful friend

by Barry Hastings

Larry HampPeople in our neck of the woods, along the banks of the old Thorney-apple River in central Barry County, lost a fine friend and a good man last Friday evening when Mike Brown gave up the ghost after a short (it seemed much longer), but fierce, battle with an old, but long unrecognized enemy — cancer.

He fought the fight like a son of the Greatest Generation he was. Now he’s gone. He left behind more friends than I can count, and not an enemy to be found. He also left behind a disconsolate friend he made when he moved in with me a few years ago, my fine brown and gray tiger cat, Frank the wank.

The neighborhood lost a friend, a pal, a dispenser of good advice, help with all things mechanical. He offered reason on all matters and lived a life, since childhood, creating working “Rube Goldberg” machines he willed to work. He found me having a heart attack a few years back, and got me to the VA in time to save my life. We shared the old-fashioned middle name “Freeman” and used it on one-another now and then.

I’ve never been more tired in my life, due to many responsibilities Mike laid on me as his time shortened. I had to find a brother and a sister; missions accomplished. As his condition worsened (he was obviously dying) I had to break the sad news to his many dear friends; missions accomplished.

At the end, every thing came together — exactly the way he wanted — re-united with lost family a scant hour before his passing. Mission accomplished.

I’ve never been so happy with a hard project in my life, but in doing it, gave up a friendship with the biggest-hearted person I’ve ever known. This is a saddened neighborhood. I suspect it will remain so for a while.

And I haven’t been so run down — whipped — since coaching a softball team through seven games, one after another, on a 95-degree August Sunday in 1982.

Sooo, I’ve got to leave you now… and get some rest.

Obituary Notice: Michael Freeman Brown

Hastings — Michael Freeman Brown, age 72, died Friday evening, Oct., 30, at Magnumcare in Hastings.

He was born in the Barryville area on Oct., 28, 1943. He attended Barryville School, and Nashville High School. He was the first child of Myron and Ruth Brown of Barryville, who farmed there.

Mike is survived by Sister Paticia of Illinois, and Brother Robert of Kent County.

Mike loved all things mechanical and driving the “Big Rigs.” He enjoyed helping friends, neighbors, and complete strangers solve problems with autos, trucks, or what have you. He helped work the family farm as a boy, spent many years at Maple Valley Implement, where he had many friends. He was much loved by his neighbors at Barry’s resort.

Staff at Magnumcare often commented on the steady stream of visiting friends through his five-week stay there. He loved what he called, “regular people,” everyday working folks, poor folks. It’s very difficult to find anyone who didn’t like him.

Mike opted for cremation, and his wishes will be met within the week. In spring, a memorial service will be held in Hope township, and announced in this newspaper. Mike never lost his composure though fighting a very aggressive cancer.

Ahh, Mike, rest at last – rest well, rest in peace.

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