Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ode to my Uncle Mark

::Uncle Mark::
::April 16, 1956 -September 23, 2009::
{I wrote this blog entry on September 13th, the day after my last visit with Uncle Mark. After I wrote it, I just didn't feel good about posting it. We didn't know how much longer Mark was going to live. He was a fighter. I knew Mark was dying, but I couldn't admit it. Especially not out loud. I felt like I had to be strong, mainly for my mom. Posting this post made me feel like I was admitting what I knew: that Mark's days were limited.
Now that Mark has been released from his ailments, I would like to share.}
When mom, Jace and I walked through those glass doors yesterday I immediately knew something was different.

It wasn't the way the place smelt. For that was all too familiar. The musky, stale smell that permeated the air. The smell of old people. Cafeteria food. The smell of a nursing home.

It wasn't what I saw. For I've seen it all before. There were people in wheelchairs, some laying in beds, some watching T.V. others visiting with nurses. There was that one person, like always, that begged to kiss my children's cheeks or hold them on their lap. There were the angry. The confused. The content.

It wasn't what I heard. For they were all familiar sounds. The sound of machines beeping. People visiting. An occasional scream of objection. The sound of the shower running and the sick sleeping.

What was different was the way that I felt. The way my heart stopped, for just a moment, when I saw you. You. Were. Different.

Unlike any visit before, you were laying there. In your bed, sleeping. Prior to this visit I would have found you in your wheelchair. Reading a history book or the Ensign. Watching TV, with the sound muted and the large black captions running on the bottom of the screen. Wheeling your chair up and down the halls. Possibly I would have found you in the cafeteria or doing sit-ups on a mat next to your bed. But not this time, this time was different.

When I saw you lying there. So weak. So pale. So thin. So sick. I was reminded of happier, better times.
I thought of all the other times that I had done the exact same routine. How I would enter your room and put my hand on your shoulder, as not to startle you. How you would quickly turn your head, smile {that oh so familiar smile} and in a questioning voice say, "Kim?" as to make sure it was really me. We would visit. I would write on your dry eraser board, which was always stored in your black backpack on the back of your wheelchair. I would ask you questions and you would answer. You would tell me about Mrs. Blauer, the time that you attended ISU, about work and childhood memories. Your memory amazed me. You knew dates. Exact dates, of events in your life. You knew names. You knew history.

I thought of the time that Spencer and I took you to an ISU basketball game. You were excited because you could hear the loud buzzer of the shot clock. It was one of the only sounds that you're failing ears were capable of hearing. After the game we treated you to an Artic Circle milkshake. It was always a special treat for you to get a milkshake. Spencer took the corner a little too fast and your head (protected by that black helmet) bounced off the side of the car door. You laughed and then we laughed. It was a fun night.
I thought of the time that mom and I took you to watch Cheaper by the Dozen in the dollar theater. You couldn't hear a thing, but still enjoyed the day out, watching the images on the big TV.

I thought of the time that Spencer and I were visiting you and you challenged Spence to an arm wrestling competition. You used your only working arm, your left arm, and Spencer did the same. When we walked out of your room Spencer said, "That Mark, he's tough! He really did almost beat me." You are tough!
I thought of all the family party's at Grandpa and Grandma's. The time that Clayton was arm wrestling you and accidentally threw you off the hide-a-bed onto the floor. How you would lie on the bed and listen to a basketball game over the radio alarm clock that sat nearby. How we cousins would have wheelchair races when your chair was empty. At times popping wheelies! What a treat it was to get to sit in Uncle Mark's wheelchair. I thought of the last few holidays where I got to host you at my house. How lucky I was.
I thought of all of the Sunday visits when Jessica and I were both living nearby. We would come every Sunday. A lot of times I would bring a roommate. Occasionally, we would bake a treat. Jessica and I made you a quilt for Christmas that year. It wasn't much. We made it on the floor of our college house and tied it with white yarn. You were so apprentice of our gesture.

I thought of the time that Grandma, Grandpa Harris and I came to visit you and to bring you home for the weekend. I was eight. There was a horrible snow storm and we got stuck in the eye of it. The entire ride home you sang:
Kimbo the Elephant,
Kimbo the Elephant,
Lives in a great big zoo-oo
Kimbo the Elephant,
Kimbo the Elephant,
We love to look at you-oo!

And then I would repeat the song replacing "Kimbo the Elephant" with "Markus the Monkey". I, to this very day, call you "Markus the Monkey."

And there are more. Many more. Memories that I will always cherish.

Mark, you've lived a good life. A hard life. But a good life. Many were blessed for just knowing you. How blessed am I to have been able to call you my Uncle.
As mom, Jace and I left Mark's bedside that day. I picked Jace up in my arms and said, "Tell Marky bu-bye, Jace." Jace raised is chubby little arm and with a big smile waved at our Uncle Marky.

Uncle Mark sat up in his bed a little taller, smiled, let out a little chuckle, and then waved back at Jace.
Mom and I cried. I still do just thinking about it.

The way that Jace waved with such enthusiasm, such zeal, was just like he was saying, "C-ya latter buddy. I just came from Heaven and it's really cool there. You're gonna love it!"

And the way that Mark smiled, laughed even, and then waved back…I think he understood him.
Bu-bye Markus the Monkey. We love you.

You're going to love it in Heaven.
I know you are.


Jessica said...

Or what about the day I say him on campus when he still lived at Pocatello Heights! He wasn't going to let the fact that there was no wheelchair accessible sidewalks stop him from going were he wanted to go!!! Or that everytime we did come to visit on Sunday afternoon he was reading his scriptures . . . or what about when he went shopping for his sisters Christmas presents and was adamant that we wrap them nicely! Or how about when I played computer Jeopardy with him for an entire weekend and he new every answer and I knew NONE! We love you Mark and you will always be an example of dedication to live life with what you are given and make the most of it! I know that now that you are free of your earthly trials you are going to fulfill an amazing eternal mission... and for you I hope that there is basketball in heaven!

Jami said...

Beautifully written Kim. WE Love you Mark!!

Katie said...

What a touching tribute, Kim. I'm sorry for your loss. (((hugs)))

Miranda said...

Oh don't mind me, I'm just here sobbing. So sweet Kim.

Hollie Rae Keller said...

Kim - so sorry for your loss. I'm praying for your family.

Kali Jo said...

me too Mandy! I can hardly type the words to this as the tears stream down my face and hit the keyboard. I remember meeting Mark at your Grandma's when we took a trip to Stone. I remember how happy he was to see you and grinned when you introduced me as one of your 9 roomamtes. He wrote "too many roomates" on his notepad. We laughed and he even let me give him a hug and hugged me back. I remember how loving he was even to me, a stranger. Bless him and you for being such wonderful people and sharing me with your family.

mammabug said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news. I remember meeting him when we were in Jr High and he was visiting your house. He was so nice and so funny. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Love you guys.

Jenni said...

Losing someone you love is so bittersweet. I am sure your Uncle Mark is having a good time in Heaven.

The Jones Family said...

I remember how we snuck off one time to see mark when he lived at those apartments across the grocery store in poky. it seems the door was cracked when we came and it had concerned you cause it seems like that had happened before and what if someone else would have walked in....the funny thing is anytime i w would drive by that location i would thin that is were mark lived.
His smile was unforgetable!!!!

The tribute was beautiful. I believe some people are blessed with a golden pass right to the veil and on through to the open arms awaiting!

Lacy said...

goodness gracious. That post should come with a warning. Do not read unless you want to ball your eyes out. It was well written. I remember you talking out about Uncle Mark. I wish I could have met him.

Kimberlee said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your memories and condolences. Loves and hugs!

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