Regular post tomorrow, . . . today a sad announcement

We’ll be back for our regular post tomorrow night, but for those of you who knew Mike Daley, either in person or from here, I have some sad news.  Mike has lost his long battle with cancer.  He was a good man, . . . a great customer, friend, and sometimes also a bartender as he traveled from Boston to Hawaii, finally finding a home in Key West, Fla.

His soul mate Sonnia Rice tells us that throughout the battle Mike never lost that remarkable sense of humor, and dignity.  No one was surprised.  (You can read her letter in the comment section.)

Mike would never have allowed me to become sentimental, so I’ll keep this short, adding only my favorite Zen Koan.  Like the man portrayed below, each of us will someday face the end of the run, . . . it’s what we take with us from the journey that counts.

Koan: The Strawberry

A man walking across a field encounters a tiger.  He flees, the tiger chases after him.  Coming to a cliff, he grabs the root of a wild vine and swings himself over the edge.

Hanging on with the tiger growling above him, the man looks down to see another tiger waiting to eat him directly below.  Only the vine sustains him.

Two mice, one white and one black, start to gnaw on the vine.  Then the man spots a wild strawberry growing just within reach.  Holding on with one hand, he plucks the strawberry.  How sweet it tastes!

Rest in peace, Mike.

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3 Responses to Regular post tomorrow, . . . today a sad announcement

  1. Sonnia Rice's letter says:

    Michael C. Daley passed away peacefully on 9/12/11 at his home in Key West. He was surrounded by his two daughters, Amanda and Susanne Daley, me, his lover and best friend Sonnia, his sister Judy and a wonderful friend named Grace. He will be missed, RIP Michael.

    I met Michael 2 1/2 years ago in Key West. My youngest daughter and I were visiting my son and other daughter and met Michael at dinner with my daughter and her (then significant other), Steve Melette. Steve was best friends with Mike and invited him to dinner as was their usual weekly custom.

    I thought he was a little strange, very quiet during dinner and didn’t say a whole lot later on either. He went with us wherever we went in Key West, listening to all the good bands, etc. He was kind of watching over us then I believe, making sure we were safe.

    I told him thank you and gave him a hug when we were getting ready to leave. I remember it was like hugging a board and I told my daughter, “boy, that guy has got issues.” I was pretty sure I wanted to be in Key West, I loved it and it felt like home, but I wanted to make sure. In the meantime, I spent that summer painting and weeding out and doing what I could to fix my home so I could put it on the market. I would put in my favorite musicians to listen to while I was painting, that helped keep me motivated.

    I visited Key West again in September 2009 and again ended up hanging with My children, Steve and Michael. He was a little more talkative this time and we got to know each other a little better. I was really starting to like this guy, but had not dated for awhile and really wasn’t looking for that.

    By this time though, I was pretty sure Key West was where I wanted to be. This time when I hugged Michael goodbye, he was a little more relaxed. I went back home and put my house in NY on the market. The market was bad so I expected it might take 1-2 years for my home to sell. I decided to visit Key West again at Christmas, New Years, 2010.

    Mike was a really heavy smoker and I really think I would not have dated him while he was still smoking. When I came down this time, we went to the Green Parrot one night to listen to some great music. I remember Michael sitting next to me and smoking. I had to keep moving so the smoke didn’t go in my face. Mike knew it was bothering and I believe he moved finally. When I was ready to leave, I gave him a hug, but this time I held on for a minute and gave him a real good one. I didn’t see him again until the following week. I was really liking him a lot and asked Steve where he was? Steve said Mike had quit smoking and was having a rough time and I wouldn’t see him probably for a little while because he didn’t want to go out and be around people who were smoking. He did not smoke another cigarette again that I am aware of.

    We did go out again before I left Key West this trip. I was the one who made the first move. Michael went into a big explanation of how he had put his heart in a box a long time ago and never thought he would take a chance on someone again. Well.. he did and I am so grateful !

    It was almost agonizing to watch sometimes. It was so difficult for him to communicate and reach out, much easier to run the other way. I was patient because I just felt there were layers upon layer of pain and loss I would need to weed through to find out who this wonderful man was…and I was right.

    Gradually Michael shared his past with me, tragic indeed. He lost his mother and father when he was a young man. He lost a brother later on to suicide when he was in his fifties. A failed marriage and a failed long term relationship ended too. He had put that heart away. When he did open up and love me, he did with his whole heart.

    Michael loved to write poetry and he did have a gift for the written word. He shared his poetry and literary work, bit by bit with me. Some so tragic, I would cry reading it.

    Maybe you all have been following Mike Qualtiere’s writings on Mike and his being diagnosed last September with Cancer. Michael went through treatment in Boston last Fall, Winter and Spring. He returned to his beloved Key West in May. Two weeks before he returned here, he found out the cancer had spread to his liver. When he got back down here, it spread to his lung and heart. He started Chemo here in Key West and never got better.

    What I remember is Michael never complained. He was not a whiner. He laughed, we both laughed a lot. He was always trying to make other people happy. We clung to each other and had so much hope he would get better. He fought a good fight, his spirit was strong right up to the end. His body could not take it anymore and gave in to the cancer.

    Now that I look back, I think he knew. When he got back to Key West, he worked like a madman to finish up his poetry and to type it up on his computer. He tried to stay strong for me…. I think deep down inside I knew too… and was falling apart little by little.

    Hospice helped make Michael comfortable his last week of life, for that I am eternally greatful. He died with dignity and at home where He wanted to be. He is in pain no more.

    I will miss his gentle, passionate soul.

  2. Mike Daley's Obituary says:

    Michael C. Daley, 62, of Key West , FL passed away on Monday September 12, 2011 at his home on Amelia street, surrounded by his loved ones.

    Mike was born and raised in Boston, MA. He was the son of Joseph and Kathleen Daley. He attended UMass Boston and the Lowell Institute of MIT, achieving certificates in CAD/CAM technology. He worked for many years as a draftsman for Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA. He left Boston for Hawaii in 2003 before settling permanently in his beloved Key West in 2004.

    In Key West Mike worked as a draftsman for Historic Tours of America, bartended at the Light House Inn and Sand’s Beach Club, and drove cab for Five 6’s. His favorite haunts included the Bottle Cap, the Hog’s Breath, and Schooner Wharf where he often attended “church” in his treasured hat and fishhook. He enjoyed music, shooting pool, dancing, cooking, friends, writing poetry, and reading great literature. He had a zeal for pontificating and pondering the greater questions in life. Mike was tolerant and accepting of different ways of life and points of view. He was a dignified, honorable, profound and soulful man.

    Mike is predeceased by his parents and brother Stephen. He is survived by his daughters Amanda and Susanne Daley, ex-wife and friend Donna Daley, friend Steve Mellete, sister Judith O’Callaghan, nieces Tracey Edington and Shannon O’Callaghan Manning, nephews Kenneth Helmar, Christopher and Kevin Daley, and his beloved soul mate Sonnia Rice.

    His sharp intellect and intense wit will be missed by the many people he touched and who loved him.

    Donations can be made in his name to the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Florida Keys at

    A memorial service will be held at the Bottle Cap, date yet to be determined.

  3. Llylak says:

    That koan is my favorite as well. My condolences to Mike Daley’s family and friends.

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