I heard about Mike Robinson well before I ever met him.
As is the way with certain personalities, his reputation preceded him.
I’d heard about him from Rick and Hayls, and they painted him on a big canvas, as daughters are sometimes wont to do. I think that when a fella has a presence like Mike, children can forget they are all grown up, and that they can be almost equal with their fathers. Part of them remains ever childlike, and they see themselves through the eyes of a man who thinks they still have pigtails and matching gingham ribbons.
So when I imagined the man who I would later, much later, hold in my arms whilst he sobbed into my pointy shoulder, I thought he would be six foot tall and made of Kevlar.
When I first met Mike Robinson I was surprised by his build. He was shorter than I had expected, but he had the stance of someone who was always on the balls of his feet.
Ready, like a boxer.
And I suppose he was.
I never knew Mike before his girls, first the youngest and then the oldest, were diagnosed with cancer. I only met him after world had punched him, making him poised to fight. And I only ever really got to know him after his girls were picked off, first the oldest then the youngest. I don’t know if it was my imagination, but I sometimes felt like he never really dropped his shoulders after that. As if a part of his brainstem was always on alert, alternating between prayer and parley, hoping that his sunshiney middle daughter would be safe.
Willing it to be so.
When I first loved Mike Robinson it was during one of his regular Chiro checks, back when Rick was on the wrong side of lean, and almost hysterically grabbing at potions and procedures and promises that could take the cancer away. We were discussing things that were beyond our control (his strong-headed daughters) and our respective roles in their healing. All of a sudden Mike Robinson jumped up, almost giving me a Liverpool Kiss as he scarpered from the office, saying, “I can’t do this.” I ran after him and somehow scooped him up in the carpark. He accepted my remedial hug and we both softened a little.
It was nice have someone strong with me for the next part.
When I first really listened to Mike Robinson it was when I was a new Mum, and everyone else seemed to offer wash-off advice that contradicted itself and disappeared like those tail-eating snakes as it puffed out of their mouths. Not Mike. Those eyes pierced right inside me with adviceorders and made sure I minded him. He spoke directly, that easy smile belying the intensity beneath. I carry with me so many Mike-isms, from “You can’t assume- every day is a new day with kids,” through to “You have to sell a lot of coffees to make rent.”
I learned lot more from you than you will ever know Mike Robinson, you funny, raw, truthful, stubborn, vulnerable, tenacious bugger.
Thanks for allowing me in.
I made you a list, mate. I think you’ll like it.
Mike-isms to Live By:
Don’t serve up visible onion.
Look after your family first.
Hug your kids more than you think they need
Choose your battles and then bloody battle.
Life is shorter than you think.
Don’t be afraid to tell people you love ‘em
Live loud, laugh loud.
Have the courage to say what you mean.