Mark, our oldest grandson, turns 17 today. That's seventeen years of giving us pure joy, with a little bit of that time, at the start, mixed with anxiety.
It was not the best birth. We came very close to losing both mother and baby, and there were a few developmental issues during those first years. Both are thriving very well now, thank you very much.
By the time he was four or five, Mark could recognize and name any dinosaur of shark you could throw at him. At the same time, his ambition was to be a Power Ranger when he grew up.
The ambition has changed a bit. He's now very much into sports. He's a good soccer player and still a fan of Lionel Messi but his focus for the past two years has been on running -- both cross country and track. I can't count how many 5K and 8K races he's been in, often finishing at the top (or very near it) of his age group. He's done a number of half marathons and last year completed his first full marathon. Mark played youth football for one year but did not really enjoy it. He did enjoy lacrosse and his coach said that if every player played with as much heart as Mark did, they would never lose a game. Lacrosse, however, soon gave way to soccer. Since he was very young, fishing with his other grandfather has been very important.
Mark is a smart and accomplished kid with a shy demeanor. Despite his shyness, he makes friends easily and can develop strong bonds. He's also darned good-looking and that's drawn the attention of a lot of girls. He pretends to ignore this attention, but I think he's secretly pleased.
He is a good observer and has a dry sense of humor, something that constantly surprises others because of his air of shyness.
He's just a good, decent kid. Close to his sister and very tolerant of his little brother. Loves animals and nature. Has a solid sense of responsibility (although once in a while his mother might disagree).
If I could describe him in one word, it would be "sweet." That would be sweet without any negative connotation or meaning. He's the type of young man that the world needs many more of.
We couldn't be more proud of him.
We love him with every fiber of our being.