Devout father, son, brother, uncle, friend
Michael was shy and chubby as a child; he hid behind his mom’s legs and was bullied in school. He became the class clown to compensate for his insecurities and learning disability. His sister, Brenda said, “Michael was the funniest person I ever encountered.” When she told people that, they thought she was embellishing and that he simply had a good sense of humor. But her cousin came over to see Michael and the next day he could hardly move he hurt so much from laughing at Michael’s stories the night before.
Even before having children, Michael loved being with kids. He would round up a group of them and go fishing, to movies or do arts and crafts with them. Once Michael’s son, Brendan was born, all his energy and enthusiasm went toward him and his niece, Hannah who was the same age as Brendan. Michael loved shoes and had quite the collection. His niece Aine, then 2, was often outfitted with sparkly jellies and Michael’s son still loves having the newest sneakers.
Michael was a trained tattoo artist and loved to do graffiti, using the old underpasses in the woods for his canvas. He always included the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which he and his sister found painted on a wall of his childhood home behind some wallpaper being removed. The Sacred Heart represents Jesus’s love for humanity, a sentiment shared by Michael.
Michael was passionate about everything. He loved stand up comedy, rap music and documentaries about underdogs or those who got lost in the system, both of which he could relate to from the days he was bullied. Michael would walk around the neighborhood like he was tough, but he was sensitive and cried easily.
Michael was a trained painter and landscaper and was studying to get his CDL license so he could work for a trash removal service. What he really wanted was to have a barbershop with a tattoo parlor, but he lacked the confidence to get started. “He was so talented, street smart, and personable, he could have done anything,” his sister, Brenda said.
Michael struggled for years with addiction, but also had periods when he was substance free. He had been sober for six years when his son, Brendon, was born, but his extreme anxiety prompted him to take Xanax, which led to other drugs.
There are tons of stories about Michael’s jokes, pranks, and his kindness. He got some of his pranks from his older brother. His sister describes Michael as a little Bart Simpson. He once told his sister that she could fly if she ate a bag of radishes. She tried to fly but when she couldn’t he told her it was because she only ate half the bag. He rolled on the floor, cracking up about his joke.
“There is a lack of predictability when addiction is present,” Brenda said. ‘You never know when you might get a call or what you might walk into.’ She worries about her young son because addiction is present on both sides of his family. “If you have already been witness to this illness in your life, it makes you paranoid.”
Michael’s sister, Brenda Brolly, provided the information for this narrative.
May 5, 1975-February 9, 2016
Age 40-Lived with the disease of addiction 20+ years