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The Slice: ‘Mike’s good example’ will never be forgotten

The whole “We’re here to celebrate the life of …” thing can be a tough sell when hearts are broken.

It’s hard to smile when you are stunned and sad.

But love lives on. And those who remain have a right to share an acknowledgement that their lives will never be the same.

St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Cheney was packed Sunday as family and friends gathered on a warm afternoon to honor a life well lived.

Mike McKeehan had died suddenly last Thursday, close on the heels of a family reunion where he and wife Judy had been at the center of the group photo. He was 67.

The retired teacher and Cheney public servant was remembered Sunday as a man with a faulty heart that was, nonetheless, big beyond measure.

It’s an odd thing about memorial services. The ones recalling happy people can be the roughest.

You might think remembering emotionally stunted, angry individuals would be more challenging. What with all the “If only …” thoughts and unspoken regrets.

But when a sincerely cheerful presence leaves us, it is a different sort of loss. It can mark an impossible-to-accept end to a love affair with each new day that embraced us all.

As speaker after speaker did attest Sunday afternoon, P. Michael McKeehan cherished life. He loved his family. He enjoyed his many friends. And he welcomed the prospect of each tomorrow’s opportunity to once again laugh, share and reach out a hand.

That so many were there to offer affectionate salutes was partly the result of the fact Mike died fairly young. There is no shortage of those who knew and admired him.

But his life sent out positive ripples in every direction. And that’s why people wanted to make sure his family knows that memories of him endure in their hearts.

There were nods of recognition when the priest at the service referred to “Mike’s good example.”

Kids weren’t the only ones he taught.

Once, off the record, I invited Mike to bash some people I was sure he regarded as socio-political knuckledraggers. Instead, through maturity and calm restraint, he demonstrated how a gentleman conducts himself.

Today’s Slice question: Are those who move here upon retiring usually happy with that decision a year later?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email An Idaho license plate made an appearance this month in an episode of Masterpiece Mystery’s “Inspector Lewis” on PBS.

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