Michael Lynn Stephens was born Jan. 2, 1953 and died Sept. 1, 2015, at his home in Shreveport, La. He passed in his sleep. Mike is survived by his three children: David, Bobby and Mara Stephens; his wife, Carol Stephens; and his siblings: Dorothy Milam, Robert Stephens and Patrick Stephens.
Now that I have satisfied the housekeeping portion of an obituary, I would like to ge
t on with the business of remembering my Dad.
Dad can be described as kind, caring, loving, generous, intelligent, funny and insightful. You could also use words, like abrasive, short-tempered, vindictive, unrelenting, and “a-hole.” If he were here, reading this, he would scoff at the former description and embrace the latter. That’s who he was; humble and tightlipped regarding his fairer qualities like his love for his children and soft spot for dogs and cats, but full of hubris and pride when it came to his ability to ruffle feathers and upset the status quo.
As my siblings and I sifted through Dad’s files and keepsakes, we found sentimental items that reflected both his soft and his fiery sides. A handful of score cards from golf games he played with his daughter were in the same cabinet as editorials he wrote for a small town newspaper – of which he was the news editor – that made so many people mad, he happily renamed himself “Mr. A.”
You may speculate on what the “A” stands for.
He once made a reader so incensed that she sent the newspaper a check intended to compensate the paper for two photographs of him that she wanted hung below the toilets in the bathrooms of the office, in their “place of honor” as she put it. That letter and check were amongst his keepsakes. He also had dozens and dozens of Father’s Day, Birthday, and Christmas cards from his family, along with pictures of some of his beloved pets, including Zeus, a Labrador that he loved and respected more than he did most humans.
My father did not hate people, he just seemed to hold in contempt most of humanity. Backwards thinking, poor decision making, general idiocy, and horrible driving skills were afflictions that, according to Dad, most of the human race suffered from. He was perpetually disappointed in the way people treated each other. But he was not silent, he did not abide.
One of Dad’s gifts was his ability to write. He used insightful, witty, and at times hilarious prose to pontificate on politics, expose injustices, and sometimes just to stir the pot. His anger could be – at times – used to define his kindness. Dad believed in sticking up for the less fortunate, and had no time for those who exploited them. His political ideology was set on a bed rock of equal rights and fairness.
Those politicians that had to weather the scorn of Mike Stephens, deserved it. Of this I am sure.
I will not elaborate further on his politics other than to say: Kim Davis, the County Clerk in Kentucky that denied same-sex couples their marriage licenses was jailed the day after my Dad passed, and I guarantee that news made his ascent into the ether a bit less turbulent.
In regards to the afterlife, Dad did not believe in one. He once wrote a satirical obituary about a colleague who was still alive, in which he insisted about the dead: “They can’t hear you!” He was charming that way.
I believe there is no way to know what happens after death, we have no proof. However, as my I write this, and my eyes fill with tears, I like to believe that he is still around in a way. He may be in Idaho watching me write about him with the scrutiny of an editor, and the skepticism an atheist, or he is down in Louisiana haunting the dreams of a certain U.S Representative; rattling his cages from the afterlife. However, I would bet the farm, that if he is still out there, he is in Austin, Texas, a place he loved, watching over his new granddaughter, who he adored.
Dad, we miss you terribly, and I promise to never stop fighting the good fight.