Michael was a classmate in high school. He was a year older than the rest of us, as he had been held back at some point. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed academically, but he was good at mechanics. His younger brother was a better scholar and was in the same graduating class as him. I’m afraid we did Mike a great disservice. There were a half-dozen guys who went to the same huge, fundamentalist, Baptist church in the city, who were intent on evangelizing our classmates. We met for prayer every morning before school in the library. Our church had youth recreational activities every Saturday  and training activities most other evenings of the week. We invited Michael to these outings and talked to him about becoming “born again”. At some point, he made a profession of faith, got re-baptized and joined the church. I’m sure this caused a rift in his Irish Catholic family.

The pastors of this church (there were eight of them) would never bother to contact the parents of teenagers who were getting baptized and joining their church. I now find this reprehensible and totally irresponsible. My dad threw me out of the house for converting (literally), two months after I was re-baptized. If it were not for my mom insisting on leaving with me, forcing my dad’s hand, I would have been stranded, homeless, in rural Wisconsin. He decided to keep my mom even with me. So I don’t know what all Michael went through. Whatever it was, he went through it with no adult help.

We graduated together in 1973. We had good times that summer, with camp and lots of activities, bicycling together, etc. Then all of us went off to Bible college, that is, all of us except Michael. He lost his gang of comrades, his support group. It was sometime during that school year we got word that Michael had died. Then we learned it had been a suicide. We never got details, never knew about a funeral or burial. His family wanted nothing to do with us or the Baptist church. Since it was a suicide, he couldn’t be buried in the Catholic Church. We had been in college more than an hour away, taking 22 credit hours a semester, being self-absorbed 18-year-olds, too busy to notice that our friend was suffering.

I painted Michael in monochromatic, burnt umber with shiny golden hair. He had naturally wavy, blond hair. I chose to do this to signify the hope and promise of youth, “the golden-haired boy”, snuffed out.

This painting is monochromatic Black and White on 11″ x 14″ stretched canvas.

Price: $110 including postage to US address

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