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Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Son Mark

The first time I met Mark was in 1979 and we were both in our late teens. We lived in the same apartment complex in Orlando, Florida. The thing I remember most about this thin young man with curly hair was his smile, it lit up the room.

In 1981, I saw Mark again. I was helping out with a big promotion at the club where my first husband worked and Mark was there with his Dad, who was my husband's boss. I immediately recognized the bright smile and the curly hair (though there was less of it).

The next time I saw Mark was in 1985. My first husband had died in a car crash in 1983 and a few years later I started dating and got engaged to Mark's Dad. Mark was thrilled that I was going to be his stepmom. He still had that brilliant smile but even less curly hair.

Over the years, Mark and I remained close. We had more of a brother/sister type relationship than parent/stepchild (I was just 18 months older than him). Mark always remembered my birthday and would usually send me a Mother's Day Card just to tease me. He loved to call me Mom.

We were alike in many ways. Neither one of us had children of our own. We were both "go with the flow" kind of people and not interested in being over-achievers. If the electric bill got paid and there was food in the fridge, life was good enough.

Mark loved kids. He babysat half the kids in his neighborhood, and as they grew up and had kids of their own, he babysat them as well. There must be a hundred people who called him Uncle Mark. He took in stray cats, dogs, snakes, hamsters and "down and out" friends. His home was overflowing every holiday. Everyone loved Mark. He would literally give you the shirt off his back or his last dollar, if you needed it. Every time I saw Mark, he still had that brilliant smile and less hair.

When I was getting in bad shape, before I got diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Mark offered to move from Orlando to Arizona to help. We said not yet, but knew we could always count on him. 

The last time I saw Mark was at Travis' (our grandson) high school graduation in 2009. It was a big event and we made the grueling trip to Florida. I drove everyone crazy by snapping pictures. I didn't know when or if I'd be able to make another trip. Mark, once again, offered to move to Arizona, but I said not yet. 

We started looking for a house when we got back to Arizona, the park model and my Parkinson's were battling each other daily. There was an empty four-unit condo building for sale. It had garage space for eight cars (my Wonderful Husband would love that) and a fabulous view (something I wanted). A single unit was plenty big enough for us and Mark could live in one and we could rent out the other two. Mark would be nearby and he could do the maintenance. We were excited about the possibility. Mark called on Sunday, but we didn't mention our plans to him, we had an appointment to see a Realtor on Monday and we would call Mark on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, August 11, 2009, the phone rang. It was Lynn, my stepdaughter. She was hysterical. Mark had a heart attack at work. He was gone. Mark was gone. He was only 47. It was just nine weeks after our trip to Florida. I thought he'd be making our final arrangements, not the other way around. 

Today is three years since Mark became an Angel. Our home is filled with those last photos of all of us. Everyday, Mark's brilliant smile lights up my heart. I can still hear him calling me Mom and I was proud to have him as my son. I miss him.

Mark and his Dad  (my Wonderful Husband)


  1. Oh Bev, this broke my heart, but what a beautiful tribute to your stepson. It strikes me as so powerful though that you were able to have such a beautiful relationship. Love to you, Bev, love and hugs.
    Linda G via Facebook

  2. How much he looks like his Dad, but Dad had more hair!
    Nina via Facebook

  3. What a wonderful tribute to Mark. I was reading this article through my tears and had to read it a second time before realizing the terrific and very fond memories you carried away from this fine gentleman with a very giving nature.
    Lainee via Facebook

  4. Wow, what a smile......... He was a great step-son/friend, sorry for your loss, this is a beautiful tribute to him.
    Debbie S via Facebook

  5. Bev, you've penned a powerful tribute to Mark. While you tell of a great loss in your life, your words also teach us about a greater joy, abiding love, precious memories and the acceptance of another. How blessed you were for Mark to call you Mom. Life is unpredictable and can be cut short in the blink of an eye when we least expect it. Thank you for reminding us to never take love, life or health for granted.
    Penny H via Facebook

  6. Oh Bev, this is so beautiful. I feel as if I knew Mark ~ from the gift you have for the written word. Thank you for sharing Mark. God bless you. ♥
    Kelly A via Facebook

  7. Great story, Bev
    Susanne S via Facebook

  8. What a beautiful tribute to your son and friend. What a beautiful heart of giving and sharing he had, an example for us all. I know you must miss him. Thank you for sharing his story.
    Diane N via Facebook

  9. Beautiful tribute, Bev
    Linda Love

  10. (((HUGS))) It sounds like you had a great relationship with him and still miss him. He sounds like he was a wonderful person - I'm sorry for your loss.

  11. Thanks for such a wonderful story after the last few days since my brother died this story brought happy tears running down my face!!!
    Margaret via Facebook

  12. It brought tears to my eyes glad you had that special person in your life, know he will always be looking down on you.
    Lilianne via Facebook

  13. You were so lucky to have such a wonderful person in your life, a great husband who gave you a wonderful son. We are so glad you had time with Mark.

  14. Dearest Bev,

    I don't know what to say. Sometimes we are given wondrous people, special to all for just a brief time as a reminder that life is not always funny and that yes, there is a price for the love and laughter and maybe that is the point. We don't get to pick or choose; I hadn't known this, but I can guarantee that I would have adored Mark. He sounds very much like my mother, who was wonderful. This takes me back to your Wonderful Husband, who I know is Wonderful indeed.

  15. Such a tender, touching story. Thank you Bev for your gift of sharing your love.

  16. Thanks for sharing how precious our time with loved ones really is.

  17. Such a tender story! Sad and Happy!

  18. Bev, we just never know. Thanks for sharing your touching story. Blessings.

  19. What a sweet story and a reminder not to take life for granted. Barbara

  20. This is beautiful and very true.Big heart and a short life.Mark and I dated for a time has teens.He was such a great person.