Mike’s eulogy

Program from Mike’s Memorial Service held April 5, 2008 at the Savannah Unity Church

  • Opening song: Megadeth’s “A Tout le Monde”
  • Words by The Rev. Arlene Meyer
  • The 23rd Psalm: Leslie Boyd
  • Music: Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”
  • Memories of Mike: Remarks by friends and family
  • The Lords Prayer
  • Music: Judy Collins’ “Amazing Grace”
  • Leslie’s Eulogy

    Wherever he is, Mike is loving this. Mike as the center of attention. That was just about his favorite thing.

    That and chocolate and music, good food, a good joke – or a bad one – video games, friends and family.

    Mike asked that we celebrate his life rather than grieve his death. Of course, we will grieve. His death leaves a gaping wound in all our hearts.

    But Mike hated negativity. His final days were spent in a gaunt, pain-wracked body, too weak to even get out of bed. He told me the night before he died he was having a good time.

    I couldn’t believe it.

    But he said he had all he needed within reach: the walkie-talkie to summon me, his personal valet, cigarettes, chocolate, the TV remote, the Playstation joystick, Idiot Bear, Boo Bankie and the pee bucket.

    Even though his world had shrunk to a hospital bed in a small room at my house, he found fun.

    He was all about leaving the bad stuff in the past and laughing about the most inappropriate things.

    When his Grandpa died, Mike wasn’t sure what it meant to celebrate someone’s life, but he learned as people talked about how my father had made them laugh, and he never stopped emulating the old man.

    Mike loved an inappropriate joke. He loved making people look at things upside down or inside out and making them laugh at the most terrible things.

    Mike hated cancer, but he loved playing the cancer card.

    The first time he did it to me, we were at Wal-Mart. I had bought him a few things, and as we were checking out, he said, “Mommy, can I have a candy bar?”

    I told him no.

    “But I have cancer,” he said. “I could DIE!!”

    The woman at the cash register and the woman behind me in line were shocked. Their jaws dropped as they looked at me to see what I would do next.

    I stared them both down and took out my cash.

    “Cancer, schmancer,” I said. “He’s always using it to get what he wants. No candy bar.”

    When we got outside into the parking lot, he doubled over laughing.

    “That was fun,” he said. “Can we go back in and check out again?”

    “Check out? I can never set foot in that store again,” I told him.

    A week before he died, Mike told me he was through playing the cancer card. I thought it might be because he didn’t think it was so funny anymore and I was about to tell him how I understood, when he said, “I have a better card now; it’s the I’m-dying card.”

    Michael died peacefully, leaving all of us who loved him in awe of his grace, serenity and humor. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how he changes lives. He certainly changed mine.

    Wherever he is now, he is free of his devastated body, and that gives me some comfort. But my heart is in a million pieces as I try to face the rest of my life without him.

    He left quite a mark; he changed us all for the better.

    Thank God for the Life o’ Mike.

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Visit our new web site

It's official! We are WNC Health Advocates.
Please visit our new web site, Visit WNC Health Advocates
The new name reflects what we do -- advocate for health care for everyone and help people access and navigate our current health care system.
While we still hold onto the memory and the generous spirit of Mike Danforth, we need people to be able to see our name and understand who we are.

Help Life o’ Mike

We need your help now more than ever. Your tax-deductible donation will help us get Patient Pals and Family Friends to more people in need of peer support. Please consider a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one.
Donate here or mail your donation to Life o' Mike, PO Box 1213, Asheville, NC 28802.





Patient Pals & Family Friends

Life o' Mike has a peer support program for people with one or more serious or chronic medical issues or disabilities.

We aim to reduce isolation and fear among people who have conditions, including psychiatric illness, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, mild dementia or other cognitive disorder or disability, thereby reducing depression and complications as people learn to improve self-management of their medical conditions.

Patient Pals help alleviate feelings of isolation and frustration. They can help people develop a list of questions to ask the doctor and then accompany the person to the doctor to make sure all the questions are answered, taking notes to be sure the person understands the doctor’s answers.

Our trained volunteers also accompany their “Pals” to art exhibits, movies and walks outdoors, meet for coffee, call to check in and more.

Our Pals have experienced weight loss, improvement in diabetes, HIV, psoriasis, depression and more, just because they have someone who cares about them. Some relationships develop into longer-term friendships; other Pals move on to more independent lives.

Family Friends are there to help caregivers and other family members grow into their new role.

We need volunteers, who are asked to donate a minimum of one hour a week. Training is free and includes information on active listening, ways to help and when to know more help is needed.

And of course, we need funding.

To learn more, call Leslie Boyd at 828-243-6712 or e-mail lifeomike@gmail.com.

Life o’ Mike honors Joe Eblen


Life o' Mike presented its first Michael T. Danforth Community Service Award to Joe Eblen at a luncheon on June 8, in the Friendship Hall of First Congregational Church, 20 Oak St., Asheville.
Joe, seen here with Leslie Boyd, left, and his wife, Bobbie, has spent his life helping children and families, both as a coach and game official for more than 60 years, and as founder of Eblen Charities.

Start From Seed

Life o' Mike has a new program- Start from Seed (SFS).
SFS is a volunteer doula program aimed at providing non-medical, comprehensive support to low income, high-risk women and families of Buncombe County focusing on three areas:

1. We help new doulas with certification and training in return for their participation as a volunteer doula for SFS

2. We mentor volunteer doulas with their first few clients

3. Our volunteer doulas provide birth and postpartum doula services to low income, high risk moms, providing support and tools to empower them as a new parent.

A birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; a postpartum doula provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Start from Seed clients are referred to us from the Buncombe County Department of Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership Program, Western North Carolina Community Health Services, and Mission Hospital. The Program is intended and designed for growing clients’ inner strength and helping them gain empowerment to help them cope with the emotional, physical and mental challenges of childbirth, labor, and motherhood.

Our new moms and their infants have many needs. If you would like to help them get off to a good start, please visit our Start from Seed web site: Start from Seed, or call Program Director Chelsea Kouns at 804-814-9946.

Events in the community

Free birth and labor classes

Peaceful Beginning Doula Services holds free birth forums, Peaceful Birth, 6:30-8 p.m. the last Thursday of every month (except November) at Spa Materna, 640 Merrimon Ave., above The Hop, in Asheville.
All are welcome, expectant women and their partners are encouraged to attend anytime during their pregnancy. We also encourage doulas and other maternal/child professionals to attend and share in the discussions. The forums are "birth circle" style, focusing on normal birth which follows the Lamaze Six Care Practices for Healthy Birth. The forums are led by certified and experienced educators.

NAMI Family-to-Family Class

NAMI of Western Carolina holds 12-week classes for families and caregivers of individuals with a severe mental illness 6-8:30 p.m. Mondays at Charles George VA Medical Center, 1100 Tunnel Road in Asheville. The course covers major mental illnesses and self-care. Registration required. Info at 828-299-9596 or rohaus@charter.net.

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