I’ve always known Mike.
We grew up together, sharing a room for the first 15 years of my life, playing for hours and hours at Griggs Park across the street, and enduring the shared indignity of Mom standing on the front porch, cupping her hands and yelling loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, “Michael, it’s time to come in. You’re Boy of the Day.”
Mike has always had many gifts and positive qualities.
He’s highly intelligent, possessing an omnivorous mind that could absorb quickly whatever he put in front of it.
He’s a talented athlete, coordinated, strong, fast, and ferocious. I still remember seeing his eyes burn with intensity as he went for and got rebound after rebound over larger and seemingly stronger opponents.
He was fearless, unafraid to go for what he wanted without hesitation.
Mike is very loyal to his friends whose attendance today is tribute to the care he has shown each one who is here.
He also has an ability to formulate a strong opinion and argue for it very forcefully.
Beyond these gifts and qualities, Mike has always been clear about the central importance of family.
Even though our mutual assertiveness, Mike’s legal training and more than a decade of practice can make for some heated discussions, there has never been any doubt that Mike cares about family.
He doesn’t only care, he takes action based on his feelings.
When I ran the Boston Marathon as a fundraiser in honor of my former fourth grade teacher in 1999, Mike was there to help bring me home the last 4.2 miles.
Along with Jon, he was there as my best man when Dunreith and I got married in Look Park in July 2011.
He was there when my father-in-law died last year, even as he was doing yeoman duty on the frontlines when Mom was struggling with congestive heart failure.
I want to talk for a minute about that experience, because, even as Mike has had many gifts, being instantly decisive is not one of them. Anyone who has been around Mike for even a brief amount of time knows that making decisions about where to eat or what to order once there is not the most linear process in which one will ever participate.
As a result, it’s not a huge surprise that Mike did not move instantly to do what he ultimately did, and what many of us in the family had been hoping for years that he would do – get down on his knees and, in the Grand Canyon, and just before a double rainbow rose, present Annie with a diamond ring.
I know he may see it differently. But I believe that the days and weeks and months that Mike kept an often lonely vigil at Mom’s hospital bed and apartment in Brookline, advocating for her over and over again and nursing her back to health, helped him get over the hump and onto his knee.
Thank goodness he did.
I remember when my Aunt Helen first met my wife Dunreith when we were dating.
Her comment afterward to me was, “Well, whatever happens with you two, she’s a fine woman.”
What she meant was, “Please don’t blow this, Jeff.”
We all felt the same way about Annie.
Like Mike, Annie has many gifts – intelligence, facility in languages, deep understanding of literature, and a strongly developed visual sensibility.
And what stood out for me the most about Annie was her warmth, her balance, her sense of humor, her generosity of spirit, her zest for travel and excitement about the world.
She also has patience and, like Mike, a profound love of family.
Last December we met Annie’s parents Min Wen and Shan Shan and got a sense of the home, values and tradition in which she had been raised. During the past couple of days we have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know her brother Bowei and his lovely wife Ann.
We said then, and we say again, how excited we are to meet them, how glad we are they are part of the family and how eager we are to develop our relationship through Annie and Mike in the months and years to come.
From 1995 to 1996 I lived in South Africa.
While there I attended several weddings and learned a Zulu song that people sing about the bride when they approve of her. It begins, Umakoti Awethu, siyavuma, and it means, “Our bride. We agree.”
I’d like to ask your help in singing the song now.
Mike, we’re glad you decided.
Annie, we’re enormously grateful you waited and agreed to marry our brother.
We are here for you.
We are thrilled for you.
We love you.