Sunday, October 4, 2009

Because I want to remember…


On Monday, September 28th we spent the day remembering and honoring my Uncle Mark. I was pleased to be able to co-read Mark's life sketch with my mom. For the sake of remembering here are some of my favorite parts:
Mark was very interested in farming. When he was a small child he would make corrals on the grass in our yard. These corrals were intricate. He would use small sturdy sticks that he cut with his little pocket knife and Popsicle sticks for the fence posts. He would then take lengths of white string, twine, or colored yarn and make his fences just like Dad's barbed wire fences. His gates that he made were a true wonder, they could be opened and closed just like the real barbed wire gates that Dad built. He would place his plastic animals and farm equipment throughout his miniature farm. He made haystacks from grass or real hay and straw. He then began to ask mother or Grandma Harris to make him grain sacks. Mark would go out to the granary and fill these sacks with real wheat, oats, or barley. He started making his own grain sacks with mom's sewing machine when he was very young. He tied the corners of these sacks with string and labeled each sack. He made little tiny sheaves of hay and grain that he tied with string or yarn.
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One year Mark got a lasso rope for his birthday. Mark spent many hours learning to rope and he roped all of the animals on the farm including the pigs.
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Grandpa Harris often gave us some bum lambs that we raised with milk filled pop bottles and black nipples that fit on the pop bottles. Mark helped feed them and take care of them. He also gave them unique names. We had Pashe, LaLa and Jack Benny. He liked the black lambs best and he would choose the black ones for his special lambs.
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Grandma and Grandpa Harris would often give Mark a little pocket change for helping them when he was at their house and he would walk to Robbin's Grocery. He would buy a Grape Crush bottle of pop for 10 cents. His favorite candy bar was a Big Hunk for 5 cents. He liked the red penny suckers best.
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Our cats were a great source of joy to us. We would put them in our little straw cowboy hats that had drawstrings on them and swing them around. We were sure they enjoyed this very much. We were quite certain that they enjoyed being dressed in doll clothes also. It was not uncommon to see a cat or two come running in the yard with a little doll dress on and a cute little hat on top of its head.
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One of our cats had about 13 kittens and Mark named the white cat "Ethel" and the black cat "Regular". They were named after the gas tanks at Robbins Grocery. The white tank had Ethel gas in it and the Black tank had regular.
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Mark was liked by his classmates and earned the nickname of "Smiley" from them because of his happy disposition and good attitude. He was an excellent student and tried to help others excel in school also. He was often a friend to the friendless.
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Before Mark become ill, he had won a calf at the Calf Scramble during the Oneida County Fair and Rodeo. He cared for this animal until he became sick and he was so appreciative of the Mark Fan Club for purchasing his steer at the Oneida County Fair in 1971.
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Mark's favorite songs were I'm on the Top of the World by the Carpenters and Country Roads by John Denver.
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When Mark turned 19 in 1975 he wanted to serve a mission. Because of his limitations, he was not able to. However, he has had his nephews to serve for him. Mark was always so proud of his nephews for serving and wanted to know all of the details of their missions and their experiences.
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Mark received his GED in 1976. This was a huge accomplishment for Mark. He was very proud of completing this goal. Despite Mark's limitations, he also enjoyed many great times as a student at Idaho State University. He enjoyed the Institute classes that he was able to attend and the academic classes at ISU. He attended a few classes each semester from 1976 to 1978 and accumulated 28 college credits with a good grade point average.
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Mark flew to Boise several times to attend meetings. He was one, of a group of people, who represented those in the State of Idaho with special needs. Some of the things that were discussed in these meetings concerned handicapped parking, sidewalk changes to make the sidewalks more accessible for those in wheelchairs and making buildings and restrooms facilities more accessible for those with special needs.
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As a family, a great memory for all of us was our arm wrestling contests. Mark was usually the winner of these contests. He had tremendous strength in his left arm.
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Mark has always enjoyed conversations with his nieces and nephews. Some conversations have been face to face, over the telephone, and in the last years since he has lost his hearing, by us writing things on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil or a white board with dry erase markers.
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Mark was able to work at a job until December of 2008.
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Mark spent 39 ½ years in a wheelchair. He was 14 years old when he became ill.
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Mark has an angel mother who has cared for him all of his life with compassion and true motherly love and a very good father who cared for him with love and support and also provided the means for mother to do the things that she was able to do for him. Mark loved his parents and extended family. Anyone who was Mark's relative, was his friend. He thought of them often and always asked about them and their children or grandchildren.
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Mark lived a good life. He was a fine example to his family and friends. Mark will always be remembered by his family and friends as a man with a lot of spiritual strength, determination, self sufficiency, endurance, perseverance, a true desire to do good, and a man who did not let his trials in life stop him from achieving. Mark had a cheerful attitude and a great sense of humor and would not let physical limitations get in his way of enjoying his life. Mark had a sharp mind and a very good memory. Many of us were recipients of his priceless letters that he wrote to us with painstaking effort. Mark had a remarkable journey through life. Mark was a wonderful example, friend, brother, uncle and son. Very simply put--Mark is our hero and will continue to be throughout our lives and in the eternities.
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We know that life does not end now for Mark. We know that this is a new beginning for Mark that will be a peaceful and wonderful time for him. We love you Mark. May God be with you until we meet again.

1 comment:

K said...

What a beautiful tribute to Mark. He sounds like a wonderful man. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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