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Live life like Mike

BY Heather Zollman
November 6, 2020

I was strolling down the trail, taking in the beauty of the morning when I saw my friend Mike coming my direction, riding his motorized scooter. 
The feeling in my body and mind…instant GRATITUDE and JOY. 
I was so excited to cross paths with this man! 
Here’s a little back story…

I worked at the Sauk Centre Herald Newspaper years ago with accounts receivable and any other office help they needed. 
The employees there were awesome and I loved going to work there each day for my part-time gig.
 While there, I sat between 2 men.  One was a much, much older retired teacher, WWII Navy veteran, writer and coach. 
This guy had stories, stories and more stories…daily. 
He would start each one with, “Heather, I have a little story for you.” 
Some, okay most of these stories were quite long winded, but I soaked each one up like I hadn’t heard a story all week! 
For those of you that live in our small town, I am quite sure you can guess who it is I’m referring to. 
If you guessed Harry Hanson, you are correct!

On the other side of me, sat a middle-aged man with the most genuine smile you ever met in your life. 
This guy was JOY in human form and still is. 
His speech was a little hard to understand, but he didn’t seem frustrated at all when I had to ask him to repeat himself multiple times. 
After a bit, it became easier to decifer what he was saying. 
We would joke around with each other and laugh and laugh! 
He already knew my husband Bryan well since they worked together at the paper for years. 
To this day, every time I see him he asks, “Where’s Bryan at?” first thing.  His next question, “What are you doing today?”

As we got near each other, I greeted him with a cheerful, “Hi Mike!” 
He smiled his big Mike smile and asked me the two starter questions. 
We talked about how he was going to the Ding Dong Café for breakfast and how beautiful it was outside. 
The conversation lasted all of 1 minute, maybe. 
Then he took off smiling on his motorized scooter.

The morning was shaping up to be a good one, but when I ran into Mike, it went from good to great! 
He has that kind of effect on people.

As we parted ways, I said a little gratitude prayer for him being in this world. 
It also got me thinking, I hope that I have that kind of impact on someone. 
I hope that there is a person out there that when we part ways, they feel good about the fact that we ran into each other or met up.
Mike Imdieke has what the world calls a disability
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what condition he lives with. 
I even messaged a few people he sees every day to ask. 
No one was sure.  And here’s the thing…it doesn’t matter.
 I mean yes, it does, but not for the influence he has on this world. 
We know he has challenges.  Every day challenges that those of us not living with his condition take for granted.
Mike gets around in a scooter and is hard to understand, unless you know him. 
Even then it can be tough. 
Some may look at him and think that they are glad they don’t have to live like that. 
I tell you what…Mike has a job that he works hard at.
He lives on his own.
He goes all over town in any kind of weather (like ANY, I’ve seen him riding through blizzards and downpours) on his scooter. 
I’ve seen him struggle to get into places when he gets off of the scooter and has to walk into a building. 
AND he truly LIVES his life to the fullest.

I have had conversations with my children on the subject of disability after teaching at the schools and instances like seeing Mike. 
They know Mike and they get happy when they do. 
We have talked about the children that live with down syndrome and other situations and what a joy they are in this world! 
Do they struggle? 
Do their family members and those that work closely with them struggle in helping them? 
Are these children and adults that have different ABILITIES than we do shine brightly in this world? 

When I am in their presence, I do not think DIS ability. 
Hell, the politically correct terms change daily on how we speak about these topics. 
I will say this...those human beings with mental, physical and any other challenges…they have a different perspective than those of us that are considered more ABLE bodied. 
It seems that the rest of us could care a little less about how things look, how many likes we have, about that disagreement we are presently a part of. 
How do we do this? 
Be present. 
Be grateful. 
Focus on the things that really matter. 
Be kind. 

Mike has no idea how much he impacts my life, my childrens’ lives and those that know him. 
He doesn’t do anything to be looked at a certain way, liked or appreciated. 
He is who he is, simply. 
The world is better for it.

Be curious about the lens that you are looking through as you live your journey.
I encourage all of us to live life like Mike.  Simply.  Determined.  Smiley and with JOY.

Peace Out,