The following story, which appeared in our February 2019 issue, has generated a huge amount of interest, so here it is for our website readers.
There are many tear-jerking posts on social media, and while they make good stories, they’re often simply not true.
So it was a delight to find a real heart-warmer right here in Ōtaki – a genuine story from a genuinely nice guy.
I bumped into Mickey Carkeek recently on a hot summer’s day. Well dressed, perhaps overly on such a day, he was relieved when I offered him a lift home. He’d been to Levin to see Buttercup.
Without a car, Mickey hitch-hikes three times every week from Ōtaki and back. Does he have any trouble getting a lift?
“No, people are really nice,” he says. “I make sure I dress properly, sometimes I wear my suit during the winter. And I carry a cardboard sign that says ‘Levin please’, or ‘Ōtaki please’ – I like to say ‘please’, people appreciate it.”
So who or what is Buttercup?
Buttercup is Colleen Kauri, the love of Mickey’s life. They lived happily together for nearly 20 years until alzheimers took hold a couple of years ago. As the disease progressed, Mickey looked after her as long as he could, but even his undying love couldn’t keep her safe and comfortable.
She went to Te Whānau Care Home in Levin It was a tough time for them both, but since then, Mickey has been seeing her without fail on his visits three times a week.
“She doesn’t recognise a lot of people or remember too many things from the past,” he says. “So I sing to her. I sing the songs she remembers, Englebert Humperdink, Tom Jones, that sort of stuff. She enjoys that.”
Coming from a big family where singing was a part of life, it’s effortless for Mickey to croon away quietly while Buttercup nods and smiles in appreciation. It clearly makes a connection that’s not possible through other means of communication.
“The nursing staff sometimes hear me and they like it, too. They’ve asked me if I would come out and sing for the residents, but I say ‘no, these songs are for Buttercup’. I do it for her.”
Sometimes Buttercup doesn’t even recognise Mickey until he leans over to give her a kiss. But that’s OK. She’s still the one he fell in love with, and that’s all that matters. You get the feeling it’s as important for him to see her as it is for her to see him.
So if you see Mickey on the road between Ōtaki and Levin, give him a lift and help him keep in touch with his sweetheart.
• If you know of someone who deserves a “Good on ya!” please let us know at Ōtaki Today, 06 364-6543, or firstname.lastname@example.org