I called him "Mikey". Except for a Scout Leader, Janice, whom he loved, nobody else outside the family often did; but I called him "Mikey".
When he was born at the dawn of the 1980's, I felt he was destined for technological greatness, as we were on the cusp of the information and computer revolution. We named him Michael Alexander Stein, Michael for my Grandpa Moe, and for his Grandpa Max, may they rest in peace; and Alexander for Alexander Graham Bell, for my love for the telephone. He often told me that when he was rich and famous, he was going to go by the name "M. Alexander Stein".
He loved his family. He was fond of Grandma Lucy, may she rest in peace. He would often be her chauffeur when she could no longer drive, and was always doing errands for her. He went traveling with his Great-Aunt Rochelle, to Alaska, to Hawaii, to Australia, and to Fiji. I think his favorite relatives were Grandma Ilene and Grandpa Lee. They did so much for him, and were always there for him at any time.
But, except for Mom & Dad, of course, the most special place in Mike's heart was for his sister, Shelby Lynn. From the moment he came home from the hospital, Shelby, being 2 years and 3 months older, thought of him as her "baby". Sure, they fought a lot, as siblings must do, but in the last 7 years they were the best friends they could be. He called her Lady. Shelby, I know you'll miss him most of all.
His Bar Mitzvah, in 1993, was the highlight of his life so far. Everybody was so proud of him for sticking with the Hebrew studies. Rabbi Steve and Cantor Doug were particular favorites of his at this time, along with Diane, his Bar Mitzvah tutor. In fact, he said at that time in a Boy Scout newsletter: "Of all the people he personally knows, he really admires his Rabbi".
He spent 11 years in the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Life, one rank below Eagle. We were all very proud of his achievements in Scouting. The friends he made in the Scouts continued to this day.
He graduated from Chatsworth High. He then went on to Marymount College, then Grossmont College, finally ending up at the DeVRY Institute. Along the way, he sold Maps To Stars' Homes, worked as a Pool Attendant for the City, a cook in a sandwich shop, a clerk in an auto parts store, a box boy in a market, a waiter, and he just started last week at Old Navy.
But his favorite job, by far, was as a Dog Trainer. Mike loved dogs. I could talk for hours about his ability to train a dog. He taught our two dogs many, many tricks. But his love for dogs really brought out the love he had for all dogs, all breeds. He was at his sweetest when dealing with dogs.
Nobody will ever know what went through his tortured mind last Tuesday. I last saw him when he ate dinner with Aunty Carol & Cousin Janet and us on Monday, then he said goodnight, and went to bed. Lainie saw him Tuesday morning when he said, "Goodbye, Mom, I'm off to school". That's the last we ever saw him.
I never had the chance to say goodbye to Mikey, but if I could, I would say: "Son, when I was 20, I did not yet work for the Telephone Company, where I've been for 29 years, and I had not yet even met your Mother, the love of my life for the last 27 years. So believe me, Son, it does get better than this."
Goodbye, Mikey, I will love you and miss you forever.
Michael Alexander Stein (20)