Somehow that big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff has struck once more. I blinked once or twice and grandson Mark is suddenly 21 today. Really? It seems that just yesterday he was born.
That was a scary day. Christina has great pregnancies and terrible births. With Mark, we came very close to losing both of them. Christina's blood pressure had bottomed out and the baby was forced out with forceps, leaving a significant scar on his cheek. The forceps had damaged him, causing him to have difficulties speaking. He also was born with seven small holes in his heart, which closed up after a few months.
Mark went into an early intervention program as they attempted to teach him to talk. I don't know how they did it, but they played with the eighteen-month-old with shaving cream and feathers and bubbles. Mark's first word was "bubbles," and we were over the roof with happiness. When he was two, he entered a special needs program, boarding a school bus by himself everyday with a bottle and diapers in his backpack. The kids in this program covered every possible need; Mark immediately bonded with Joey, a crippled boy who had gone through many operations, and Melissa, a sweet little girl with Down syndrome. Mark spent that year as their best friend and protector.
Our worst fears came to naught as Mark had quickly showed himself not to have any brain damage from his hard birth. He was quiet (well, duh, he couldn't speak), happy, and found many ways to keep himself amused -- often lining up hot wheels and humming a relaxing tune. He was a major Bob the Builder fan and later graduated to Power Rangers. Around that time he became an expert in dinosaurs, followed by sharks and other monster fish. His other grandfather taught him the joys of fishing and of going to the hardware store. When he was in second grade, Mark moved into a regular classroom and socialized well with the other kids. Mark has always been and always will be shy, but his kind nature and sense of humor has always made him popular with the other kids.
Mark is a problem solver, from the time when he would draw up complicated plans to save his family during a zombie apocalypse. He's athletic, soccer and lacrosse were his chosen sports (he did not care for football); both have been replaced by running. He has done remarkably well in marathons, half marathons, 10K, 5K, and other races, often coming in first in his age group and also often coming in among the first to cross the finish line. Determination, thy name is Mark.
For a fantastically smart kid, Mark is blazingly oblivious. He has a summer job at a camp in Alabama coming up. When asked what kind of camp it was, he did not know. What would he be doing there? He doesn't know. In his easy-going manner, he just knows that he will do whatever they ask of him and do it well. This tends to surprise the more obsessive compulsive, anal retentive of us. Yet there is our firm knowledge that whatever challenges come up for Mark, he will meet them with a smile and a supreme competence.
Sometimes folks underestimate him. He is also extremely handsome and girls really like him. He's quiet but has hidden depths. Throughout his life, he has always gravitated to the "good" kids; we have never had to worry about him being lead astray. He is probably the kindest person I have ever meet. He's empathetic and caring.
Everybody loves him and it's easy to see why.
Christina and Walt had a difficult time naming him. Names one would like, the other didn't. Finally it was down to two names -- Mark and Thomas -- and they just could not decide. The problem was solved when Kitty said, "Why not call him Mark Thomas?"
(Mark Thomas also happened to be the name of Kitty's cousin, another fantastic guy whom everybody loved. He was a radio station manager, session musician, and drummer in a country band. He died tragically in a late night accident over a quarter of a century ago, hit by a drunk driver who was speeding the wrong way on a highway exit ramp. He was due to be married and they had put off an earlier date because her father was overseas in the Navy. A terrible tragedy. I look at our Mark and realize how much of the other Mark is in him. Somehow, somewhere. someone controlling the universe did not want the world to go on without this very special type of person.)
Do I need to say how proud I am of this man who has overcome many early obstacles to become one of the finest people I know? I don't have to. I'll just direct you to any worthwhile dictionary to look up "great guy" -- the first definition will be Mark.
We love him.