Essiac tea with Sheep Sorrel roots included!

Remembering Mick Holien, the Voice of the Griz

I was very lucky. I was a friend of Mick Holien’s. I only regret it didn’t start until 2017. When I met him, he was just over a year into his MS diagnosis and retirement, neither one having been his choice. He was still getting around pretty good, driving and boating and having fun in the land off the right end of the radio dial up here in Polson.

Memories drift in of a June not so long ago on Flathead Lake with Mick and his friend Dick Bratton, the sun setting on a perfect day. Dick was Mick’s ever-available helper and great friend. He always included him when there was something going on. He made it possible for Mick to have a fun, active life, in spite of his increasingly tough time getting around. Dick loved proudly introducing Mick as “the Voice of the Griz!” (University of Montana Grizzlies.) Mick would always get mad at him for doing it but he always kept doing it anyway because we were all so tickled to know Mick and it was so much fun to introduce the celebrity ? Fun memories! Allentown, October 2017 - a special belated birthday meal. .. a street dance in front of the Cove.. the 2017 Griz-Cat game, televised at Woods Bay in the convention center with Mick, Stacy, and Dick (in a holstein cow costume playing the Griz fight song on the bagpipes during halftime, no less!) The Polson/Ronan ‘crosstown’ game in Pablo that winter, with black ice and Mick at the wheel! Safe there and back!

After April 2018, Mick was one of only a few friends who still called me to have lunch now and then after a change in local rules. I really appreciated his continuing friendship. In October 2019 I reached out to Mick about a mutual friend. Mick really helped me. I started coming out to see him more often, bringing supper sometimes and just hanging out. He had a handful of caregivers but always appreciated my efforts. I really got some insight into the juggling act (and sometimes high wire, no safety net act) involved in living alone with MS and the value of being able to count on your friends to get you out of a pickle sometimes.

In Nov. 2019 - this time I drove - we went to a Griz game! We had dinner at the Finley Point Grill when we came home but it wasn’t till later that I learned that was pretty ambitious for Mick! Last winter Mick had to go in the hospital and then the rehab center with some complications. Luckily he was discharged just days before the shelter-in-place order was issued, so at least he got to be at home during the pandemic, and COVID-free.

Mick always went for it regardless of the odds. He lived with courage and I am sure he died courageously too. He never stopped planning for a better future. He never gave up. He had most recently been working on a GoFundMe for a vehicle, and had actually bought the vehicle and was soon to be going for rides and seeing the outside of his living room again. He had had equipment installed at his home to make it easier to get around, and had just bought a new recliner chair that could do anything. He was in pain most of the time but he never dwelled on it.

I think of all the people who have struggled and lost their futures, and sometimes even their lives, in this year.

I kept believing Mick would get better, or at least we could have our friendship indefinitely. We had set up for pizza and the Seahawks game Thursday the 19th of November but sadly had to cancel, even though Seattle did win.

I am so glad I gave him a big kiss on the top of his head the last time I saw him, on the 14th. Glad I didn’t know it would be the last time. He passed away Nov. 27. It happened too fast.

Like so many people who have lost a loved one, I find myself asking why couldn’t we have gone on for a long time still, loyal friends and stalwart defenders of doing your best, making dreams come true as best we could, getting into mischief and hilarious situations, having great visits, just wonderful companionship. Why only one year? I needed more time. He did not want to leave life. I was not ready. Now we have our memories of this man that so many people loved, respected, and admired.

Mick Holien has inspired me to never give up, and to never stop planning for a better day and to always keep doing my best. Thank you Mick for being my friend and someone I could count on. His legacy in the valley will live on through the Boys and Girls Clubs! You will be greatly missed, Mick! Thank you for Kobe. See you in heaven!


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