Home > Uncategorized > The Confessions of Mike Trapp. Chapter XII: Buying the Farm

The Confessions of Mike Trapp. Chapter XII: Buying the Farm


Mike in KC

I moved to Columbia because I wanted to have a place to get ahead so that I could buy a house and have a place for my dad. I suspected his retirement was not going to end well. I stayed with my friend Sarah, then ultimately a room opened up at her house and I rented a room for her. I saved up my money. After a couple of years, I was ready buy a house, which was really great because dad had retired. He made it for a year. He had paid up his rent, cashed in his retirement and bought a new Ford F-215.

He then promptly lost the rest of the lifetime of savings on a epic, three week gambling binge.

He was fine for a year because he had free rent. He’d be broke and living on comp meals at the casinos and ramen noodles by the end of the month, but, he was making it. When his rent ran out, he decided that he was gonna live in the Ford F-215 pickup truck. My brother John and I had normalized this living out of a vehicle or out of a backpack in the great, wild West, so dad knew that was an acceptable lifestyle. His problem was with gambling. So three weeks later he’s in his truck and he’s flat broke.

I was eager to find a house and wanted to buy one. I couldn’t find one in any of my preferred neighborhoods, which would have been in the First Ward of Columbia. That is kind of my native, cultural homeland, at least in terms of where I could afford to buy a home.

I ended up looking on Columbia’s North side and found a great house. By that point my dad is living in his truck, in my friend Sarah’s driveway so I couldn’t be too choosy. I got this great house on Leslie Lane with a nice big backyard, big enough for horseshoes and the Leslie Lane Family Living Center began.

Dad and I moved in and settled in and we were pretty good roommates. It was right next to my employment at Phoenix Programs. When my grant ended and I moved into the main building, they built a brand new building near where I had bought my house. I’m a block from work so I would walk to work and could come home and dad had a little dog and we added other little dogs over time. We had a pretty good life together.

I encouraged my friend Harry Train to move to town. I thought he would be a great substance abuse counselor. It he turned out that he was. He stayed with me until he got a job in the field, then got his own apartment. My friend Kevin Webb came in and did a tour of duty on Leslie Lane, but that was after my dad had died.

Dad had COPD from being a big-time smoker. That caught up with him and he passed away. I had this period of grief and reflection about what it all means. I remember my family came from all over the country. Everyone also made it home to Michigan for a funeral there except for my brother John. John had spent a lot of time with my dad and made a decision early on that he was going to spend his time with him while he was living.

John had been to Columbia and stayed for a couple of weeks or a month. This was not that long before Dad passed. When we took my Dad to the emergency room for a breathing treatment, they ended up putting him on a ventilator. That became the last, four or five days of his life. My family members came from all over the country. Then, he passed away. After Dad died, most out of town folks left the next day in the late morning and early afternoon.

I had dinner the night after Dad died at the nearby Country Kitchen with Betty and Bill, my sister and her husband. I walked home after dinner and realized that when I got home I would find, Fido, the little dog that my dad and I had shared. Now, this was all there was, which was fine. Fido and I a really bonded. He was my dad’s dog. He was raised like I was. He’s a little aloof. He had been more like a brother, but he became my life partner as me and Fido lived in the Family Living Center. We ended up not being alone long because my friend Kevin came to stay. His marriage had gone foul in the State of California so he returned to his beloved Columbia as he needed a place to stay. I enjoyed living with Kevin.

My brother John was planning came to stay after for my dad’s funeral but we delayed his visit for two weeks as John was wrapping up his business in California. His plan was to look for property in Kentucky and kind of start a new life.

Two weeks after my dad died, we had the funeral in Michigan. As John was driving there through the State of Iowa got stopped and searched and he was found with two and a half pounds of marijuana. John had been living in California and had grown weed and had the weed that he had. He just packed up the weed that he had when he was going to move. He knew he wasn’t going to have access to free to low-cost, high-grade marijuana in the Midwest and South and so ran afoul of the law. He had his court stuff in Iowa then came to stay with me. That period was tough on him. He had had some felonies when he was a young man. He’d been working in the medical marijuana evaluation field. He had built this whole industry as kind of an office guy and an activist who lived a real righteous life in California.

Suddenly John is a felon and back to thinking about whether he’s going to go to prison or at least have a recent felony conviction and be on probation or parole. He stayed with me about six months until his court business wrapped up. He got to serve his probation in California and moved back out there. Then I was on my own again.

I had paid the DirectTV baseball package and Dad said, “Oh, let’s not get it for this year” but I was like, “Oh no!, We love watching baseball.” Dad loved the Detroit Tigers and I was a fan too. Following your out-of-market team is costly thing, but over his objections, I signed up for the baseball package and then he died about three games into baseball season in early April. I watched a lot of baseball that year. It was really the last year that the Detroit Tigers did well. In September they knocked the New York Yankees out of the play-offs and went on to the American League playoffs where they lost.

Watching them beat the Yankees was this massive wave of grief. Dad had been dead for five months, but I realized that he would’ve loved to have seen that. He didn’t get to see it really because of two or three cartons of cigarettes. As he lost his lung capacity, he would get some new inhaler and steroids that gave him more lung capacity. He would just spend it on smoking because he had to cut back as his lung capacity was so poor. I just don’t think he realized he could die from smoking. People had been saying, “Smoking’s going to kill you” for his whole life. When you get down to like five or 10% of your lung capacity, those cigarettes really matter.

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