Artistic, intelligent, inventive,
Charismatic, random story teller
When Mike was nine months old, he could walk, talk and draw. From that point on he drew his way through life, using his talent as a way to process problems or express feelings, and to make people happy.
“Something happened to Mike when he was 10,” according to his mother, “he would never share what, but that was when everything changed.” Even though he was chatty, Mike didn’t share serious things with others. He was spontaneous, fun, witty and charming, living life with no constraints, doing whatever came next; “a feather in the wind.”
Mike, always a collector, would often take his son, Remi, on “adventures,” exploring nature, discovering new things, picking up items or finding treasures with a metal detector. Mike would make something wonderful out of them, often with Remi. He also loved music and making up silly songs or jingles about Remi which he sang to him.
“Tatoo Mike” was renowned throughout the Mid-shore for his extraordinary artistry. He had a mesmerizing, detailed, recognizable style and a following. He was known for his lettering, his portrait work, and original designs. It made him happy to use his talent for others. It lives on, indelibly imprinted on many individuals who remember him still.
Remi has been educated about addiction from a young age, writing a letter to his dad, after his death, saying; “he was happy he was no longer suffering.” His grandmother and homework partner, Nisee, do workbooks together to process grief, he has been to grief camp, and they focus on positive affirmations. “Remi has a wonderful grace about his daddy,” Nisee said.
Remi and his mother, Jess, have “gone purple” which has helped Jess with healing and given both her and Remi an opportunity to talk with others about the disease of addiction. She plans to do more around addiction education, but is not sure, as yet, what form that will take.
Mike’s mother is “just glad to be alive,” after all the years of Mike’s addiction. She misses the times when Mike was actually “having a real moment or two clustered together, without the cloud of addiction or mental illness; that was pure joy. What I don’t miss is watching the suffering, knowing that in his heart Mike wanted to do what was good for himself and others.”
Mike’s mother, Nisee Ayers, and his former wife, Jessica Bixby, were interviewed for this profile.
October 13, 1982 – April 7, 2019
Lived with addiction 26 years