Reading Just Some Old Man was a unique experience for me. Author Michael Walsh is my cousin, the second son of my mother's only brother, and we recently reconnected on Facebook.
Mike's coming-of-age story probably doesn't sound all that unusual. Feeling out of place and overshadowed by his three brothers, he internalizes his pain and experiences a series of events that shape his life and attitudes. In some respects it almost seems as if Mike's life has been defined by death. In 1961, at age 13, he witnesses the death of 2 six-month-old infants from smoke inhalation during a neighborhood house fire and wonders if he could have done something to save them. Over the years he loses three close friends to murder. Mike himself has had several personal brushes with death, each time emerging confused, yet relatively unscathed, and asking himself, "Why am I still here?" From a difficult stint in the army through an unhappy early marriage, Mike continued to ask, "Why am I still here?" until, at the age of 29, he was nearly felled by a life-threatening cardiac virus. This short book is the story of Mike's journey towards becoming the man he is today, of the decisions and choices that led him to finally understand why he is still here and how love and family can transform a life into something precious. It takes courage to be so frank about such deeply personal issues, to allow the world to read your private diary. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to know my cousin better. He is an ordinary man with an inspirational story to tell. I would recommend that you read it if you have the opportunity!