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Small Wonders: Celebrating the exuberant life of a friend

December 22, 2012|By Patrick Caneday
  • Mike Romo.
Mike Romo. (Courtesy of the…)

It's just another tragic news story until it's about someone you know.

If you read the Glendale News-Press last week you saw a story about a man who closed the book on his life by jumping from the Glendale (2) Freeway overpass above Chevy Chase Drive.

His name was Michael Ivan Romo.

And he hated it when we used his middle name.

But I need you to know more about him than that and the scant details released in a police report.

He was my Miguelito. And I was Patricio. Still am to his family, in whose home we were all family growing up — a centrally located haven for a group of awkward but amiable neighborhood kids seeking independence, not knowing we were always under the watchful eye of loving, adoptive parents. It wasn't just the pool, ping-pong table and bountiful kitchen that sustained us. It was their grace, generosity and kindness.

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Like many, Mike was a son, brother and uncle; godfather, jokester and local boy. But also a sufferer, of depression and demons unnamed; a man searching for peace and answers to questions greater than any of us could ever solve. Remarkable and common, all at once.

He greeted everyone he knew with open arms and exuberant, sometimes ridiculous, greetings personalized just for you. If you knew him, you know what I'm talking about.

In the 30 years I knew him, I don't recall him ever saying a bad thing about another human being and meaning it. As teenagers he never engaged in smack talk — the insulting humor at the expense of others the rest of us practiced. Sure, he tried, just to be cool. But such mean-spirited banter never looked right on him. And he knew it.

As adults he'd listen to your most ordinary anecdotes with intense interest: trips to the market, interactions with your cable company, personal physical ailments. Anything. Mike was on the edge of his seat, paying attention to every detail in awed wonder, making you repeat yourself so he could really understand exactly what happened.

He wanted to be there for the times he simply couldn't be there.

And if you let him tell you a story, pull up a deck chair. His simplest tale took you on more tangents and turns than the canyon road we grew up on.

What I wouldn't give for one last rambling, inconveniently timed call that was an avalanche of affection and more information than you ever needed or requested. I often wanted to tell him that voicemails need only be: “Hey, it's Mike. Call me back.”

I'm so glad now I never did.

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