On June 14th, 1996 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Michael’s parents, Bob and Debbie, welcomed their first born son into the world. On November 20th, 2022 at precisely 9:30am, they embraced him one final time. After an eight-day battle in the Intensive Care Unit, Mike succumbed to injuries sustained from a major car accident. He passed away at the Halifax Infirmary where he volunteered to donate his organs to three people in need.
Michael cared for his family above all else— he was our brother, our son, our uncle, our grandson, our best friend. On weekends he woke before others to prepare them a gourmet breakfast. With calloused hands, he gently kneaded bread and baked muffins from scratch. He had the appetite of a bear, but needed the nourishment for all that he exerted. After a long work day as a plumber, Michael often came home and helped his father with handy repairs or ingenious projects. Just recently, Michael welded his own contraption to extract floor drains. We never hired a carpenter, electrician or mechanic, because Michael could tend to any need. Alongside his father, Michael built his prized possession, a GMC truck, from the ground up. Mike had a rare ability to create something amazing from absolutely nothing.
At the time of his death, Michael was looking forward to writing the final block to receive his Red Seal certification for plumbing. In years to come, Michael’s sparkling blue eyes and ear-to-ear grin— his infectious laugh and witty comments, will fill the silent emptiness left by his absence. His daily displays of compassion will forever be remembered by his dearest friends and strangers alike. On a recent occasion, Michael attended the dentist and left having fixed their office toilet; he would make a quick trip to the hardware store, only to find a new friend in the cashier.
Michael uncovered the island’s hidden backroads and trails on his motorcycle and ATV. He reshaped our backyard forest and carved a trail in the woods so my mom could go for walks. When his baby sister left the nest to go to school, he slipped two hundred dollars in her pocket. One time, in khaki pants and a fleece jacket, Michael attended a Cure for Cancer event, not realizing it was a race rather than a walk— somehow he managed to win a medal, showing how Michael would give his all no matter the circumstance.
Whereas most people tend to lose touch over time, Michael would always make an effort to reach out and let others know he was thinking of them; he wasn’t afraid to give someone a compliment and let them know he was proud of them— just as we are of him. From the videos and photos shared to us from his coworkers, we appreciate how Michael remained just as genuine at work as he was at home; he always had the world’s biggest smile all the while excelling at his plumbing work. After each work day, Michael was greeted excitedly by his four-legged friends, Ben and Scrappy, who themselves enjoyed steak or beef cooked by Mike. Scrappy in particular could be found each night curled up between Michael’s legs, whether it was in his bed or on the couch— Mike having dozed off after sitting down to take a load off his feet. Mom and dad only knew that he was sweetly dreaming when they no longer overheard giggles coming from Michael’s room— it brought them comfort to hear him laughing hysterically to himself at his own home videos or memes on his phone.
Michael did not particularly enjoy school growing up as the system often failed in accommodating his learning disability, dyslexia. Despite this, he was recognized for his amazing ability to compute complex math problems without the aid of paper and pen; we admired his composure in problem-solving any adversity that presented itself. Michael could have succeeded in becoming a chef or an engineer had he desired it, but he found his niche in plumbing. The department at Holland College would give a class pizza party each time a student got 100% on a test— they had to stop hosting these pizza parties because Michael kept getting perfect scores.
Michael was gifted at many things, but we will remember him most for his outstanding character. Mike would have been amazing father, as his own father found in him the bestest of friends. To his nephew, Dallen, and nieces, Tessa & Addison, he was a goofy uncle but incredible role model. Michael was a protector to his sisters, Megan (Mark), Sarah (Olivier), and Lauren, as well as his brother, Ryan (Amanda). Mike had plans to build his father an extravagant garage beside the house, but didn’t care to flaunt nice clothes or own other superficial belongings. In Michael’s dresser, his items of importance were birthday cards from loved ones, the prayer beads of his grandfather— pictures of him from the war, handwritten letters from his sisters and brother, his college diploma. Mike was a handsome man with soft features, though he probably didn’t realize it. He was always out in the yard, whether tending to a bonfire or cutting the grass, even if it triggered his allergies. In the aftermath of the hurricane, he would spend hours upon hours patching things up and cutting down broken tree branches, then offer to do the same for the neighbors.
Michael was predeceased by his paternal grandparents, George and Loretta Steele, as well as his maternal grandfather, Eugene Bulger. His maternal grandmother, Laura Bulger, carries on his memory in life. In his final moments, Michael was surrounded by his family members. As our tears fell upon his cheek, he laid there listening as we shared our endless good memories with him. Michael had a zest for life, shown honorably as he held on for an hour and fourteen minutes after life support was lifted. Mikey will live on through loved ones left behind. His memory will forever shed light on the shadows of our grief.
Visiting hours: Hillsboro Funeral Home, Thursday, Nov 24th, 4-7pm.
Funeral service: Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Friday, Nov 25th, 10:30am.
Memorial donations in Michael’s honour can be made to the Learning Disabilities Association of PEI.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Hillsboro Funeral Home.