Good afternoon my name is Anton, I am Michaels nephew and I’m going to say a few words on behalf of the family.
I would initially like to begin by talking about the person that Michael was, he clearly touched many peoples lives, evident in the number of people here today paying their respects.
Michael was born in La Lina, Spain in 1962 and moved with the rest of his family to Scotland in 1963. Michael spent his formative years round the corner from this church in Captains Drive. The family had little material wealth but he grew up in a loving household. Life was not always easy, in 70s Gracemount with the last name Caballero he stood out like sore thumb, he couldn’t and wouldn’t blend into the crowd.
Michael was crazy, fun and generous in his youth. His constant energy led to many bumps and injuries, if his sister Julie cut her knee, Michael would usually go one better. On one such occasion his love for all things batman almost ended his escapades permanently. To the shout of ‘Batman’ Michael jumped head first from the upstairs window, his survival with only a couple of grazes, makes his choice of superhero all the more appropriate.
He was always immaculately turned out. Everyone wanted to be his friend. In 1975 he fired the One O’ Clock gun in an episode of Jim I’ll Fix it’. Appearing in the country’s favorite children’s programme made him an overnight local celebrity. As a 13 year old he had some serious street cred, even making the local papers. The new found fame enhanced by the good looks, fashion sense and charm meant even at 13 years old he was a serious lady killer.
Fleetingly in his teenage years he played bass in a local band. How much this had to do with a desire to pursue a career in music is up to debate. A more likely explanation, his cool status worked hugely in his advantage with the local female population, but that’s just a theory and I’m sure he may have said otherwise.
Michael loved music. Music was the sound track to his life, through hard times it comforted and in times of reflection, it prompted memories of good times had. Michaels taste in music was wide -ranging , although, he had a particular soft spot for 80s music. I never experienced the 80s, however, I did get the chance to, every time I got in his car. The top-notch sound system he always installed was usually worth more than the car itself. The bass was set to such levels that you’d be lucky to reach your destination without developing tinnitus.
His love of music was legendary amongst his family. An enduring memory for me personally was of playing in the front Garden of Granny’s at the Inch, and hearing the ever increasing bass of heavy rock in the distance. I asked my dad where the noise was coming from, ‘he replied ‘it just your uncle son’. Sure enough a few seconds later Michael rolled into the street blasting Metallica - Enter the sand man; I may also add it was a residential area inhabited mainly by pensioners. On hearing how much we loved our cool uncle’s arrival he insisted on giving us the Metallica CD.
On one occasion on a trip to visit family in Luton, Michael picked us up in his car and had Bob Marley on as we stopped at some traffic lights in the busy town centre, We all looked round to see an African church group on an outing in a bus next to us. Such was the volume and clarity of his high end sound-system; they had all stopped talking and were staring out the window open mouthed.
Michael had a chilled temperament, a person you could speak to about anything from the latest football news to the most personal of problems. He was a good listener. He could also be determined when he wanted to be. On one particular holiday as the family sat nearby, Michael; with his captivating charm chatted to a woman in a bar. He had been pre-warned she would not be interested in Michael or any man for that matter, but he persevered as he often did when he needed to in life and almost ended up with a black eye as a result!
It would only be right at this point to mention that moustache, that moustache that went from a pencil style in his teenage years to a full on lip warmer in later life. That moustache, made him instantly recognizable from any distance. The aftershave, which you knew meant Michael was in the house even before you had seen him. His pristine and extensive trainers collection, which varied depending on his mood on a particular day. If they fitted you, he said you could have them. It was unlucky then, for most of us that he was in-between sizes! If Michael had it, he shared it, stereos, watches, appliances, you name it. A reflection of Michael as a person: kind, loving and generous.
Today is a very sad day for everyone that knew and loved Michael. For us, the loved ones, friends, and family left behind there are feelings of anger, loss, confusion and even guilt, which may never leave.
Death is never convenient, you won’t get notified in advance of it, or arrange a time for it. It comes, instead, out of the blue, in an all encompassing wave of grief, which at times feels as though it will completely overwhelm.
Michael was as generous and genuine a person as you could hope to meet in life. He was a kind hearted soul.
Michael died in his own battlefield; he died, fighting his own internal war. He fought against adversaries. Adversaries, that were as real to him as his coffin is to us today. His battles took toll of his energies and his powers of endurance. They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and strength. He was overwhelmed. It would appear that he had lost the war he fought, right?
If you look closely you can see victories won. For a start he won our admiration in his battle and we recognize his bravery in life. We recognize that his courage, pride and hope were exhausted. We shall remember, not his death, but his daily victories gained through his kindness and thoughtfulness. Through his love for his family, friends and music, for all the beautiful, loving and honorable things he did. We shall remember not his last day of defeat, but the many battles won over formidable odds. We shall not remember the years he had left, but the way in which he loved and cared in the years he had. Let’s remember the cuppas shared, the music played, and the road trips taken.