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My Michael

Friday, March 4, 2011
Last week, I lost the love of my life, Michael Anthony Barranco, Sr., in a fatal car wreck.  It was a 24 year love affair, continually full of stolen glances, love notes, dates, gifts, private moments, whispers of sweet words that only we could hear, and the private affair we shared with our Heavenly Father.  I have realized immediately that I need to write these memories, thoughts, and reflections, not only as a healing process for myself, but for others to see that there is more to this life than what most of us live here on this earth.  Yes, there is a heaven - it is real, but we can experience a glimpse of that heaven here on this earth if we passionately chase after it with our whole heart. What follows is a piece I wrote two days after the accident at 5:00 to 8:30 in the morning.  Michael was known and loved by thousands of people, as evidenced by the 2000 people that came to the visitation.  Hundreds were turned away that night and hundreds more were turned away from the funeral service...close to 900 seats just was not enough.  I wanted the world to know that they only saw a glimpse of this beautiful, godly man.  I wanted  them to see the big picture and the magnanimity of his life and the role he played, in what he loved to refer to as "this incredible journey".  We lived in our own little universe and I want you to see the beauty within it.  One of my best friends from high school, Becky Jones Taylor, had the privilege and responsibility to read this at Michael's funeral.  Those who were able to get in for the service have requested a copy of this, and those who were not able to be present have heard about it and want to read it for themselves. I have always been a very private person about my love and my life with Michael Barranco, but I want everyone to know My Michael.


My Michael
Jene’ Barranco
February 25, 2011

Most of you know Michael as an architect, singer, musician, Boy Scout or in general, just a great guy.  I want you to meet My Michael. Imagine a container of a high quality juice, olive oil, vinegar, or even medicine.  If you drink it off the top, it is good. But down at the bottom, where it is concentrated, is where you find everything that nourishes you.  Believe it or not, you only knew a watered down version of Michael Barranco. He was above and beyond anything you could imagine or even thought existed in a man today.

My Michael did not just love good architecture; he loved good design because of its aesthetic quality. He could feel good design.  He wanted people to feel peace and be enveloped by it while in the presence of good design.  The part he loved most in architecture was in the details.  He took thousands of pictures of door detailing, rooflines, cathedral ceilings, columns, bricks on pathways, light fixtures, windows, gates, roof angles, and the list goes on.  He was always sure to point the details out to us, as well, so that we could appreciate it along with him.  But he was into the details in every part of his life.

My brother, Craig Ray, took me to Poets on September 5,1986 to hear this guy sing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”.  Michael always told people he watched me walk in and he was hooked immediately.  Craig introduced us on his break and I loved the way my name rolled off of his lips.  Michael and I went out the next night and talked about everything from our large families, our faith, our aspirations and even our own desires that we each had to have children.  He proposed to me 3 months later on Christmas Eve.  I received a scroll that day with a calligraphied invitation for dinner that night along with a dozen roses.  I was picked up by a driver and taken to County Line Steak house, which was closed for the evening, but open just for us. ( Thank you, Fred Cerami, for opening the book to the beginning and of what some may call a fairy tale.)  Our table was by a fireplace. We had a private waiter and his mom had cooked the meal.  He read from the Bible then got down on one knee and gave me the beautiful honor of sharing the rest of his life with him.  We, of course, ended the evening celebrating the birth of Christ at midnight mass.  Twenty-four years later and he was still treating me like a princess.

My Michael, knowing that I am not a morning person brought me my hot green tea with a kiss every morning.  After my Sunday afternoon nap, which he always encouraged me to take, he would bring me a cup of cappuccino with a kiss then allow me to sit and read or just enjoy the quiet.  My Michael bought most all of my clothes and knew my taste better than I knew it myself.  If I couldn’t find something to wear, he would put something perfect together for me all the way down to choosing my jewelry.  I loved that about him.  When I was pregnant, my Michael thought I was more beautiful than ever. He would say I was angelic.  He thought motherhood was a beautiful art and praised me daily for my works.  A few of you may know that he called me Babe, but more intimately, he called me Angel.  He has been known to call our two princesses that, as well.

My Michael loved the details and the weight of being a father.  He rose every day no later that 5:00 am to spend time before God seeking His wisdom and guidance as a father, husband and leader of our household.  He loved to rock the children, read to them, and bathe them when they were little.  He loved to lie down with them at night to pray with them and just be next to them.  He was still doing this with our 12-year-old son, Michael Anthony, right up until just last week.  His own father rocked him until his feet dragged on the floor.  He encouraged our children and was proud of everything they did.  He was full of abundance of mercy when it came to his children.  He could see past any action and know their heart.  He taught them how to fish, drive the ranger, and hunt, but most importantly, he taught them how to love and serve.

My Michael had a servant’s heart.  In a busy moment in the house, he would come hug me and say, “Babe, how can I serve you?”  His favorite line from the book The Purpose Driven Life was, “It’s not about you.”  He would always say, “it’s not about me and what I want.”   He taught this to the children.

My Michael loved to garden, again, because of its beauty and its aesthetic quality. I taught him how to garden, and then, in perfect Michael style, he ran with it with intensity. He thought gardening together was a romantic endeavor. He told me once that he loved to come home and find me in the garden because it made him know that all was well with the world. While we would work outside, he would stop just to watch me, come give me a kiss, or just pat me on the bottom. If it was a gritty work day, we would share a beer together at the close of the day, but if it was a tranquil day of planting flowers or pruning, it would be over a glass of wine strolling through the garden together or sitting on a garden bench.

My Michael looked at food and cooking as another beautiful art form. I love to cook because of him. He would say he loved to come home and find me in the kitchen, too.  He would come hold me while I was stirring and say, “You are so amazing. What did I do to deserve you?” (My thoughts, of course, were always, “No. What did I do to deserve you?”) He appreciated flavors, and aromas, and the effort to bring a meal to the table. He praised my cooking in front of the children daily and taught them to appreciate it like he did.

My Michael worshipped God and sought Him with His whole heart. He looked for His presence every minute of the day, in every situation. He knew all he was in life was because of Him. My Michael could bring you into the presence of God so quickly and fiercely with his singing because that’s where he was and he selflessly invited you into that place. My Michael loved Jesus. He would pray, “Thank you Jesus” throughout the day to any little thing that he was grateful for. What all of you loved about Michael was not just Michael but the glory of God, because He was continually present.

My Michael swept me off my feet and kept me there. He courted me all 24 years of our marriage. He was my knight, my strong warrior and confidant. We had a beautiful life, a beautiful marriage, and have three amazing, beautiful, talented, and godly children. My Michael was perfect for me and I was perfect for him. There were no words left unsaid between us. The words were either spoken to each other, written in the form of poetry, songs, or encouraging notes or through our actions. My Michael loved his life and drew comfort and strength from the love from our children and me. My Michael cried when his heart was moved, apologized for any wrong, and always gave credit to whom it was due.

My Michael was a renaissance man. He was my personal Michelangelo who brought beauty to everything he touched and all he did pointed toward heaven. What a privilege and an honor to be called his wife and to bear his children.

This was my Michael.


Wendy Says:
March 10, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Hi Jene-
This is Wendy Bryant. I also lost my husband in a car accident recently (dec 29). A friend at my bible study sent me this link. I have cried my way through your blog reading so many of my feelings written down. I did not have the honor and joy of a long marriage and several children. We were only married 2 1/2 years and have one baby (21 months). But it was a very happy marriage. Just wanted to let you know how encouraging you have been to me. God is using you. You are so brave to put everything out there like this. I will continue to follow your blog. Here is the link to mine, which is totally different, but if you want to put a face to my name. www.wendyandmartin.blogspot.com

Bruce A. Ulrich Says:
April 4, 2011 at 7:58 AM

What a beautifully written post, Jene. Thank you for sharing. I am truly moved by your words and saddened by your loss. I strive to be that kind of man for my family...just like Michael.


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