|Melissa & Mark, 2006 Reunion|
I've struggled with what to say about Mark since coming to the conclusion I wouldn't be able to make it to his memorial/celebration of life service. Not a situation I find myself in often, at least not when it involves the written word. A friend asked me if I’d been close to Mark. I could only answer, "Yes and no."
Yes, because he's family. Not just any family but Watson family, an amazing, wonderful, family. Most people don't get it. Most people don't understand a cousin offering up air miles to get you where you most want to be just because you're family. I don’t know any other family who will set off an email storm over the littlest and biggest events.
No, simply because we didn't grow up close, distance-wise, for that to happen. What I have are vignettes of Mark, snippets of a life all too short.
I remember the summer Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Joe bundled up their combined broods and visited us in California. We had a small above ground pool, only 15 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep, but enough to cool off in. One day all of us kids got into that pool and created a whirlpool so strong it broke the ladder. I have a vague recollection that whirlpool displaced the water to the point the middle of the pool was clear of water. And I have a clear memory of my mom saying she was glad she didn’t have to feed teenage boys on a regular basis.
At Shell Lake, our first official reunion, we did a continuous story. Each member was to add a sentence or two to the story. Mark's contribution was a simple, "Meanwhile..." I still laugh over that one as I was the next in line. Near the end of that reunion all 16 of us cousins sang Alan Parsons Projects Time. A song more apt now than it was then.
During the reunion at our house in Oregon Mark came across as quiet maybe even contemplative but his razor sharp wit was lightning fast. So fast your brain sometimes needed a few seconds to process what just happened.
The Hunters brought their boat to the Christopher Lake reunion. They tell me I caught air while inner-tubing. All I know is when a Hunter is behind the wheel of a boat interesting things can, and often do, happen.
The last time I saw Mark was at the 2006 reunion. I remember Mark telling me that the red-hair gene was dying out, that within -- I can’t remember the exact number -- of years it would be completely recessive. We laughed over my three red-haired boys. At least I've done my part to keep that gene going Mark!
And we met Melissa, a beautiful, strong woman, that year. I know Mark couldn't have done without you these last years.
My oldest son's memory is of Mark playing soccer with him one day when some of the next generation dabbled at a game. And that’s how we’ll remember him; full of life, blue-eyes sparkling with humor and mischief, the love of his life by his side.
Much love and hugs from,
Mark, Sherri, Cam, Alex, Ian, and Robbie