Michael Jarrett was a prominent Chamber Member and former member of the Board. His support was felt throughout the Greater Arlington community. Mike’s daughter, Melanie, wrote this beautiful eulogy which celebrates the life of her father as a community champion. Mike’s legacy will continue to inspire our community to be more selfless, loving, and hopeful. Whether you knew Mike or not, we can all aspire to Be Like Mike.
Thank you everyone for coming. We weren’t sure how many people to expect, but the past 24 hours have been absolutely overwhelming. My dad would be so humbled, and he would be honored. There is a reception following this mass at Rolling Hills Country Club here in Arlington, and you are all welcome to join us there to raise a glass in memory of my dad.
We’re all obviously dealing with an unimaginable loss right now. The question I’ve been asking myself over and over is, How do we keep going? How do we keep putting one foot in front of the other? And suddenly it came to me in a really simple phrase that I’m hanging onto with all of my might:
BE LIKE MIKE.
BE LIKE MIKE: Serve others, and serve them selflessly. Give your time to causes you care about, without need for recognition. My dad didn’t know what it meant to sit on the sidelines, and that’s why he served on so many boards, fundraised for so many causes he cared about, all the way down to when he’d have a day off from work, and he’d spend it with my mom delivering Meals on Wheels, or ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.
BE LIKE MIKE and work hard at the things that matter. My dad worked relentlessly hard, but I’d never characterize him as a workaholic. He worked so hard because he genuinely loved it; he worked so hard because he wanted to do right by the people he worked for, and the people that he worked with. I mean, my dad was 72 years old and still taking golf lessons, just working hard to try and get a little bit better at a sport he loved. And if you know him you know he never got much better, but darned if he didn’t keep trying. Dad, I hope you’re finally breaking 90 in heaven.
BE LIKE MIKE and don’t be afraid to compete. My dad never even let me win at Candy Land. When we came home for Thanksgiving and did our annual Turkey Trot, we promised each other we’d walk. But when the gun went off, off he went, still walking—but walking so fast that we couldn’t even keep up with him. And he turned to us and said, “Listen girls, you just have one mission today, and that’s to not finish last.” So be like Mike, step up to the plate, push yourself to be more and do more than you think you’re capable of. And then maybe push it just a little bit more.
BE LIKE MIKE and love HARD. Love LOUD. Love OPENLY. By now you’ve probably heard about my dad’s last text message to me. He said, “I just value every minute I get to spend with you, and I wish there was more.” I’m so, so grateful that I’ll never have to wonder how my dad felt about me, because he told me every single day, in every email sign-off, in every text conversation, every phone call, every time we parted ways. Tell the people you love, that you love them, and tell them so darn often that they roll their eyes at you. Tell them you’re so proud of them. Tell them how special they are. Tell them that they matter to you!
BE LIKE MIKE and value your family above all else. Always, always make time for them. My dad returned every email, answered every question I ever had (in far more detail than I needed), never sent me to voicemail, never ignored a text. He was never, ever too busy for me, or my sister, or his grandchildren, or my cousin, or his sisters or his mom. I swear that man could make time stop if his family needed him. So be like Mike and take that family vacation—make those memories—put your family above literally everything else.
BE LIKE MIKE and be content. When it came to Christmas, my dad was impossible to shop for. You’d ask him what he wanted and he’d say, “I have everything I need!” And we’d get soooo frustrated. But he meant it—he knew he already had everything in life that he could ever ask for. In fact, I think my dad might have been the happiest I’d ever seen him this past year. Yep, in the middle of a pandemic, that man was HAPPY. To have everything, and to KNOW that you have it—to want for nothing because your life has already provided everything you could ever truly need—that way of living is just SO exceptionally rare. So BE LIKE MIKE, and take a look around you, take a look at your life, and just stop for a few minutes to appreciate what you have.
So while I still can’t believe he’s gone, what I do know is that my dad never wasted a moment. He made EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE. of his life count, and he knew: It is just so GOOD to be alive. And I just don’t want any of us to forget that. So let’s all honor Mike by trying to be a little more like him—today, tomorrow, and forever.
And I really mean it, so I’m gonna make you say it with me, BE LIKE MIKE,
on the count of 3.
BE LIKE MIKE!
We love you Dad, always.