Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Of anyone that I know, Michael McManus deserves an addendum to his obituary, especially after seeing his photo published two weeks ago, taken about 25 years ago. The current photo, taken by my son Christian Billotto, is the Michael that we all knew.
I met Mike in 1997 when I went to his house as a visiting nurse. He was recovering from partial amputations of both feet, which were infected. He was understandably upset and in pain, but reluctant to seek more medical intervention. After some arguments, I bullied him into going to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. This was the start of our strong bond of friendship and medical adventures.
Mike was admitted to every hospital in Boston at some time or other, and I am proud and positive that I alienated every nurse who had the temerity to neglect Michael in any way. To address the multitude of ailments and recoveries which filled Mike's life would stretch from Vineyard Haven to California. Suffice it to say that he was ravaged by his diabetes from age 16 to his final year, age 54. Despite his chronic problems he maintained his dignity and never lost his sense of humor. He was, without a doubt, the toughest individual I ever met.
Once we were at a function where he was seated next to a woman who went on and on about breaking her arm and how difficult it was to maneuver, etc. After we left, I asked him why he didn't tell her about his own problems and he answered,"I didn't want tobrag." This anecdote is representative of how Mike lived his life, with humor and dignity. Despite major health setbacks he persevered until sadly his chronic problems became acute and he succumbed.
I choose to see Mike in my mind's eye sitting outside the cottage, sunning himself, living one day at a time. He was the most unforgettable character I ever met. His passing leaves a gaping hole in my life, softened only by the knowledge that he is at peace, at last.