At top, 350 friends and family of Michael Manning traveled to Sylmar for his funeral. Bottom left, Michael?s mother Evelyn Diaz and his father Michael Manning, Sr. at the burial site Monday, April 26. [Photos by Annette Rippe]
Michael Manning, 15 of Pine Mountain died in a fall down a cliff on San Emigdio Mountain April 20. For a week, the community has been holding a series of gatherings in his memory. The mortuary estimated 350 Mountain Community neighbors traveled to Sylmar to honor Michael’s life at the funeral Monday, April 27.—Editor
By Tamara Smith
Funeral Services for Michael Manning, 15 were held at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Sylmar, California on Monday, April 27.
It was an overcast day with a slight breeze. The location was beautiful, with mature trees on top of the mountains overlooking the San Fernando Valley.
When I arrived it was evident that many had come to honor Michael’s life and to support the family. The parking lot was filling up and there was already a line forming outside of the doors (20 minutes before 2 p.m).
I was able to get inside the chapel and find a cozy seat in a pew. As people continued to come in, the chapel filled to capacity with standing room only. Many people were unable to come inside, filling the hall and lobby, and forming a line down the walkway outside. Overall, it appeared there were more than 300 people. Half were children and teenagers. Half were adults. [Mortuary employees confirmed that they distributed over 300 memorial folios and had over 50 more people who they could not accommodate.—Editor]
Michael’s casket was laden with flowers and cards from family and friends. People kept coming forward to place flowers around and on the casket.
The service was officiated by Pastor Mike Schaffer. He said, “This is a celebration of Michael Manning’s life,” then read Psalms 91. The message was full of hope that Michael is now with God and that we will see him again. He opened a time for the family to speak.
Michael’s father Mike Manning, Sr. spoke of his love for his son and of how thankful he is for everyone coming. Michael’s grandmother, Dorothy Manning, told of a conversation she had with Michael a week before his death. Michael had confirmed to her that he knew where he was going and that he wanted to go to church with her and his mom that coming Sunday. She said the memory brought her much peace and happiness during this difficult time. Michael’s uncle spoke about the joy Michael brought to him over the years with his curiosity and love for sports.
Then Pastor Schaffer opened up a time for friends to speak. Simba Wiley Roberts read a poem called “Slow Dance” with a message to slow down and not to move too fast through life. He followed up by saying how Michael lived his young life to the fullest here on Earth and how he knows that he is with the Lord. A representative from BMX Racing, of which Michael had been a part, came to give condolences from “the BMX family,” he said. “A prayer from Mikey” was read, to reassure everyone that he is okay and looking down at all of us.
Unlike the Wednesday, April 22 gathering, no teenagers spoke. Many dressed in black T-shirts with memorial messages and pictures of Michael such as “RIP,” the dates of his birth and death and “In loving memory of Mikey.”
We went outside to the gravesite. It is under a beautiful, big tree and the attendants were bringing out so many flowers and cards that it took four men three to four trips each to bring them all to Michael’s final resting place.
During the final message five or six hummingbirds hovering over Michael’s casket for about 30 to 45 seconds at the same time a Red- tailed Hawk circled above. It was as though they were greeting him to take him home.
Even though the mood was sober, there was an overall feeling of hope and an amazing testimony of love from this small Mountain Community.
This is part of the May 01, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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