The Christmas tree sat in the middle of the “man cave” – only back in the 1980s, it was just called a den. Decorated in Green Bay Packers sports-themed ornaments and colors, it was Michael Sobota’s Christmas tree. The rest of the room was the same. Green, yellow and white.
My family and I were transplants to Defiance in 1979 when my dad took a teaching job at the Defiance Junior High. We didn’t know a single family outside of the school-arena.
Eventually, we moved from our rental on the Northside of town to a three-bedroom ranch on the Southside of town. My parents needed a moving truck.
Before Michael was a real estate agent, he helped people move from house to house.
It was after that first move in Defiance that a friendship was made because after all, both Michael and my dad were talkers. They could strike up a conversation with a rock and the rock would somehow respond.
To say Michael was a “people-person” was an understatement. It was more like people gravitated toward him. He had a warm smile and a big heart. I don’t think I ever saw him with a frown on his face (unless, maybe when the Green Bay Packers lost a game … but even then, he knew they’d play again …)
Seeing him in church, even after I moved away and married, he would still look toward my parent’s pew and give a little wave in between his folded hands as he walked to communion.
Late last night, Michael made his final walk to God. Reading the news that God took this happy-go-lucky man rocked my world this morning. I hadn’t seen Michael in a while, but we reconnected like most people do now via Facebook. I enjoyed reading his posts about Sharon, his three children and grandchildren. Knowing he was riding his bike up to 10 miles or more per day provided me the inspiration I needed to exercise.
“If Mike can do it, so can I,” I would say to myself as I dragged myself to the gym.
So, today, as we mourn a man who touched so many lives, let us know that even in his death, he continues to provide inspiration through his legacy. Today, when you are walking around Defiance, or anywhere for that matter, take a moment to look up and smile, or give a little wave, to a new person – after all, you never know what type of bond may form.
RIP Michael Sobota.