Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Coffee Cup Bike Rack
Mike Tague was local cyclist and avid coffee lover for whom, in memory, these bike racks were dedicated on the corner of Clematis and Olive by Raphael Clemente, cyclist and DDA Executive Director, and his wife. They were the very first bike racks in Downtown in 2006 and are very much a statement piece in the neighborhood. They are also always full of bicycles! Mike passed due to Lymphoma but he is forever immortalized, becoming a part of the past, current, and future cycle friendliness of Downtown West Palm Beach.
Michael Tague and the Coffee Cup Bike Racks on Clematis - Raphael Clemente
In my appreciation of Mike Tague, in addition to all of the other things he meant as a son, a father, a brother, as a dear friend, mentor, and confidant, as a talented musician, and gifted athlete – as a person who knew the facts of life - what struck me the most about him was his ability give and share of himself, to be a true friend, and to open his heart and let others in. Mike was smart enough and brave enough to look for the goodness in everyone he met without worrying about his own situation. If Mike was your friend, he was your friend all the way, all the time.
You see, Mike had figured out exactly what was important in life. And that was to fearlessly live every moment of it – good or bad. He was courageous enough to do that.
Right now we are all here – family and friends - stuck in this moment and looking back on all those fragmented pieces that make up our memories of this man we no longer have with us. It feels as though all we’re left with is a great big hole that can never be filled.
But if we think about it, what we are left with is not a hole, but a mountain. What Mike left for us is not emptiness, but rather a huge mountain of great moments and joyous memories, of wild laughter (which, by the way, was loudest when he was laughing at himself!) and beautiful music, of piles of pancakes and strong coffee, of long bike rides and even longer stories; of overcoming challenges; of Mike’s trade mark “hey man, how ya doin? It’s GREAT to see you!”; of his lanky stride when he walked up, big hands swinging, huge smile beaming; of that huge out-stretched hand, waiting there to meet yours. Or the wide open arms ready to wrap you up in a warm embrace.
Those of us who first knew Mike through cycling were blown away when we eventually found out that not only was he a hammer on the bike, but he was also an accomplished musician who wrote all his own songs. Then a little later we learned that he was a master mechanic who worked on high-performance cars – another unexpected talent. Then, that he was a father helping his daughter through college – yet another layer that one might not guess at first glance. Mike was a practical joker, a story-teller, and a jack-of-all-trades. To say he was multi-talented would be an understatement. Eclectic sort of describes his style. He was a jumbled-up collection of unique and diverse elements that when taken as a whole, flowed together like a mosaic.
If it’s true that you can judge a person by the company they keep, then Mike was the most fortunate man in the world. On January 29th of this year, when so many people opened their hearts and their wallets to help their dear friend, the result was overwhelming. But the thousands of dollars raised don’t even come close to the emotional and spiritual payoff of that day. When Mike’s army of friends arrived at Good Sam Hospital to cheer him on and let him know they were all there for him – all the bank vaults in the world could not hold that fortune. Thank God we were able to show him how we felt while he was still with us.
January 29th, 2006 was a defining moment for all of us. The day stands as a testament not only to the man who inspired us, but to each and every one of us here today. Through Mike’s courage to boldly face his situation, and to share it with us and allow us to be right there by his side even at his lowest points, he enabled us to turn a seemingly horrible circumstance it into something so positive, so unforgettable, that it changed us forever. That day reminded us just how lucky we are to be part of this amazing community of great friends. And though we are missing one of our most cherished friends, we are better off as a result of his time with us.
What we need to do now, as individuals and collectively, is find the courage to live through this moment in our lives and somehow appreciate it. We must appreciate it for all it says about who Mike was and what he meant to so many people. We can be brave enough to live through this moment right now, as bitter as it may be, because as time passes the bitterness will fade and all we’ll be left with is that great big mountain of goodness that was Mike.
Diagram of the custom design: