The phone rang at the Day residence one evening in 2014. The voice on the line said the words Mike Day never expected: “You’re going to be a grandfather.”
Back in the ‘70s, Mike was married with a son, Michael. But when the marriage ended, he made the painful decision to allow his son to be adopted by his ex-wife’s new husband. He didn’t want Michael to feel obligated to have a relationship with him if he’d rather be doing other things.
And that’s how things stood for nearly 40 years.
They checked up on each other, though, silently. There were some parallels in their lives. Mike managed a McDonald’s in Oxford Circle when he was in his 20s, and his son held the same position at the same store two decades later.
Always the strong, silent type, Mike didn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, but missing out on his son’s life had affected him deeply. Every Father’s Day he’d cry.
When Mike answered the phone that day and heard his son’s adult voice for the first time, he also had his own news to share: He had recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone cancer.
With no time to waste, they built a relationship. Mike got to witness Kimberly -- his daughter with Ann, his wife of 39 years -- form a bond with her newfound brother. Mike was overjoyed to be a grandfather to Michael’s son, also named Michael, who is now 7.
He had come full circle, healed his emotional wounds and found peace as a result of his reunion with his son. They had seven years together, and they thought they’d have more.
Mike had endured two stem cell transplants over the years and was currently in maintenance mode. May 5, 2021 was Ann’s birthday, and he gave her white roses with pink tips.
The next day, May 6, 2021, was a seemingly normal day. It was finally warm enough to eat dinner on the deck of their home in Horsham, so they planned to do that. Early that afternoon, Mike was mowing the lawn, sat down in the garage to take a break, and took his last breath. He was 67.
“He was caring and willing to go above and beyond, not just for me, but for everybody,” Kimberly said. “He will be dearly missed.”
Mike was born Aug. 6, 1953 in Philadelphia to Harry, who survives him, and Catherine “Fifi” Day, who preceded him in death. He was the third of seven children and had two older siblings, Karen and Billy, as well as four younger siblings, Susan (who also preceded him in death) PJ, Kevin and Patrice.
The large Irish Catholic family lived on Scattergood Street in the Oxford Circle section of Northeast Philadelphia. Mike’s first job was delivering the Bulletin, and he had the biggest route in the neighborhood.
When Mike was a young child, he became lost while visiting the Montgomeryville Mart with his family. Over the loudspeaker, his parents heard an announcement about a child who had been found, but his name was “Michael Jonda.” They quickly realized it was Mike, who had given his name as “Michael John Day.” His parents tracked him down in the mart office where he was eating a lollipop.
Mike’s father, Harry, remembers how Mike reacted when he put on his first pair of glasses as a child at the eye doctor on Frankford Avenue.
“He said, ‘Oh, I can see!’” and looked around in wonder, Harry recalls.
Mike attended St. Martin of Tours Elementary School and graduated from Father Judge High School in 1971. He was smart and liked school, and he also enjoyed Marvel Comics. He was a big reader, often keeping a paperback book with him to read whenever he had downtime. Mike read a lot of popular fiction, like Tom Clancy, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and he always made sure to read the book before he saw the movie.
After high school, Mike worked in management at McDonald’s for about 20 years. He met Ann at work at the McDonald’s on Main Street in Lansdale in 1977. They married in September 1981 at Highlands Mansion in Fort Washington. They built a life together, buying a condo in Horsham and planning for the future.
Mike eventually decided to get his bachelor’s degree and enrolled in the accounting program at St. Joseph’s University, from which he graduated in 1989. Over the years, he was employed with ICT and Sykes.
In February 1991, Ann and Mike became parents to their daughter Kimberly, and bought a home on Girard Avenue in Horsham. Mike was the type of father who’d try to provide understandable answers to Kim’s questions, like, “Why is the sky blue?”
When Kim was growing up, Mike stayed home to care for her while Ann worked, and he also watched his niece Christina and nephew Alex.
Ann recalls that one night Kim was in bed calling for Dad and Mike didn't hear her. So Kim started calling for Mom, and Ann was so happy to hear her name. But when Ann got to Kim’s bed, Kim said, “Mom, can you get Dad?”
Mike’s love language was acts of service. Described by family as “the ultimate nice guy,” he was a supportive father and husband, and he strived to do the right thing. He took responsibility and
made the burdens of life lighter for those around him. (Literally. He was the guy who’d help anyone move.)
“Growing up, I never felt like I had to worry about anything,” Kim said.
Mike was part of “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Floor,” a moniker for the group of dads whose daughters were in color guard who set up and broke down the equipment before and after performances.
In addition to reuniting with his son, Mike also became much closer over the last two years with his brother PJ, who is eight years younger. He recalled that the Days took an annual summer vacation to the Pocono Mountains, which Mike hated. He made the most of it by chopping wood and paying Patrice to run and buy him cigarettes.
Mike was known for his thick, wavy dark brown (and eventually white) hair, which he inherited from his father. He lost his hair temporarily while undergoing cancer treatment, and when it came back, he let it grow so long that he could pull it into a ponytail.
Even while being treated for cancer, Mike took care of Ann’s father, who lived with the Days for almost two years. Mike drove him to appointments and arranged for aides. After John passed in 2014, Mike managed his estate, single handedly cleaned out his house, and managed the sale of the house, all while battling cancer
But his life wasn’t all work and no play. Mike and Ann have a timeshare in Virginia Beach, where they vacation nearly every summer. They embraced traveling, especially road trips, because Mike loved to drive. Their favorite was a loosely-planned, two-week road trip out west a few years ago that took them from Pennsylvania all the way up to Calgary, Canada.
Going to the movies was a favorite activity, and he especially enjoyed seeing old films at the Ambler Theater. He was a member of the Bucks County Historical Society and liked visiting the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle.
Mike had a knack for games — especially word games — and puzzles. When playing Trivial Pursuit, everyone wanted to have him as a teammate because he usually won.
He was on a bowling team, an activity he picked up because Ann enjoyed it (and she usually beat his score.) Mike was a dog person and had three throughout his adult life: Bo, Bear and Blaze, all rescues adopted from animal shelters. He was known to spend hours every day walking his dog, and Blaze still waits for him.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Mike’s viewing on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 after 9:30 a.m. until the time of his funeral mass at I0:30 a.m. in St. Joseph Church at 1795 Columbia Avenue, Warrington, PA 18976. His interment will immediately follow in St. John Neumann Cemetery, Chalfont. (If you are not attending the burial, please park in the adjacent auxiliary parking lot on Valley Road.)
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division, 701 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123 or on their website.
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