Cursed by addiction, freed by adventure
Michael was a character with a bigger than life personality. He was different from anyone you would ever meet. He was such a charmer that he could offend you and make you laugh all at the same time. He loved talking about his crazy sounding ideas, some revolving around conspiracy theories, paranormal activity and Bigfoot. One thing that sounded unlikely to many people was that he wanted to hop freight trains and hitchhike across the U.S. Six months before his death, he actually pulled it off, meeting a lot of amazing people on the way who still keep in touch with his family.
There was a period of sobriety after his cross-country trip. His sister, Misty felt that she had her “real” brother back for the first time since they were kids. They went shopping, out to eat, and to live music events together. He also spent time with his family and told stories of his trip, about interactions with “over the road” truckers, photographers, a woman he fell in love with and a man he worked with for a week. The pictures from those times show how happy he was during his travels.
What those who love him miss most about him is his laugh, his crazy ideas and stories. Many would never guess he was dealing with substance use disorder, as he seemed carefree and fun. But when he was at his worst, he could quickly get sad, depressed and angry. Those who knew and loved him found it very difficult to watch his decline and were on edge wondering when, and if, they would get “the call.”
Michael was so much more than his illness; he was a son, a brother and a dad. He loved reading, music and playing the guitar, but his greatest accomplishment by far was his son, Gavin, who made him very proud.
Misty states that her life revolved around her brother’s illness, making her stressed and sad. She has educated herself about substance use disorder and joined a family support group with her mom. She now has more compassion for people with this disease and is saddened that her brother had to deal with it. “He had dreams and goals and it is truly tragic that he was taken from this world so soon.”
Michael’s sister, Misty Oliver, provided the information for this narrative.
November 22, 1981- June 18, 2018
Age 36 -Lived with addiction 15 years