“It’s never too soon to crack wise.”
Not the first words you’d typically expect to hear at memorial service.
In this case, however, they seemed especially fitting, because the man being remembered had spent his entire life cracking people up.
Oh, and they were, in fact, his own words.
A performer from the time he learned to speak, Mike Roberds – well-known for his time on the White Rock stage and our our TV and movies screens and radios – reportedly expended more energy trying to avoid a hard day’s work while earning his keep than most people do in a full-time job.
Notably, he didn’t measure success by his bank account, said Peace Arch News editor, Lance Peverley, one of Mike’s closest friends, who delivered his eulogy Sunday afternoon at the Coast Hotel in Langley.
If wealth is measured by the number of people who matter to you and to whom you matter, then Mike was clearly a rich man.
About 500 people came to hear and share stories about the Langley actor, who passed away suddenly in mid-May at age 52.
“There is no way he’d allow even his premature passing to keep us from laughing today,” said Peverley, who read from a four-page autobiography, penned by Roberds himself at the ripe old age of 17, titled Mike: Not Just Another Four Letter Word.
Peverley described Mike’s early and lasting love of garage sales and recounted how he was “unleashed on the world,” when got his first big laugh at three years old, by reciting a dirty joke during a family gathering.
He spent the rest of his life chasing the next laugh.
“Mike’s greatest gift was his ability to make friends,” said a high school buddy, Jake Wiebe.
“That, and his humour — he was hilarious.”
Wiebe recalled Mike’s parade of $300 cars, which were essentially disposable.
“I’m not mechanical, but Mike made me look like a NASA engineer,” he quipped.
“The sad thing is, Mike would have loved to have been here.”
The celebration of life was MCed by Ellie Harvie and Glenn Taranto, who played Morticia and Gomez respectively on the The New Addams Family. That’s where they met Mike, who’d been cast in the late-’90s as Uncle Fester.
The role that was to be his big break also marked the beginning of several beautiful friendships.
“He was my brother on the show,” said Taranto. “I don’t know how a friendship segues into something else — or when.”
Mike had too big an impact on this world to really be gone, said his brother, Jim.
“He lives on in my kids — in his influence on them.”
Speaking personally, I only had the opportunity to meet Mike a few times, and only in a professional capacity. What struck me about him was his warmth and the fact he was always a consummate gentleman.
As I sat there on Sunday, listening to everyone from his White Rock theatre friends to his beloved niece celebrate Mike and lament his absence, I wondered why it is that we so often wait to share our kindest and most heartfelt thoughts about people until after they’re gone.
Maybe they did get to say all these things to him. I hope so.
It would be nice to think that we get to hang around for a bit after we pass, if only to eavesdrop on our friends and family, who will no doubt have saved their best stories and kindest sentiments for last.
It would be nice, but why risk it?
It may, as Mike said, never be too soon to crack wise.
It’s also never too soon to say, “You matter to me.”
Brenda Anderson is the editor of Peace Arch News’ sister-paper, the Langley Times.