Years ago my dad told me I reminded him of his brother, Mark. This could have only meant Mark was a wonderful person, and it’s true. Mark is a wonderful person. My memories of Mark, which start back in California, are fractured moments of glossed over memories, which seemed inconsequential as a 5-year-old kid, but now, as a 34-year-old kid, make me remember him with warmth and fondness.
There is a picture that sits in my parent’s house. It’s a picture of my dad, Uncle Dick, Uncle Steve, Uncle Mark and me. I remember that day. I don’t really remember the picture being taken, but I remember that day, and Uncle Mark coming in to say hi to me just as I had finished my bath and was getting ready for the barbeque or whatever reason everyone was over that day. I don’t remember a lot from that day, but I remember him coming in to say hello, and I remember thinking it was very cool of Uncle Mark to make sure he said hi to me as soon as he got there.
Years later, after my family had moved to Virginia, Mark would come out for a visit and he and I had a few opportunities to hang out during these trips. We went and shot pool together a time or two, or hung out at my mom and dad’s house, watching a baseball game or movie or something. We would laugh together. I always liked that about when he would visit. He and I could definitely laugh together. Our senses of humor were just twisted and similar enough we could find humor in just about anything.
There was this day when Dad and I were out in Palm Springs visiting with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Mark and (my cousin) Colin where Uncle Mark and I were hanging out on the side patio, having a cigarette or something in the middle of the afternoon, waiting for Dad to wake up from a nap or finish a shower or whatever he was doing at the time, and Mark and I were talking about music. Specifically, we were talking about music from the classic rock era. Somehow, and I am not really sure how, we got on the subject of Manfred Mann and their classic song “Blinded By The Light”. I had mentioned to him that I had heard that song 1,000 times or more and still had no idea what the lyrics to that song were. Anybody who knows that song will probably know the lyrics I am referring to. Mark explained to me that the lyrics were “revved up like a deuce” (which was a type of car, he also explained), “another runner in the night” (which was referring to drag racers). I haven’t heard that song since then without thinking of him.
What makes Mark a wonderful person, and one of my favorite people, is that anytime he and I are in the same state, city, house, room, whatever, it doesn’t feel like he’s a family member I’m being forced to visit. He is a friend I want to see, a friend I want to catch up with and share stories with. I want to know how he’s been since I last saw him, and I want to know what he’s going to be doing next. I look up to him. He is more than a friend, he is more than family, he’s Uncle Mark. He’s someone I care about, someone I respect, someone I laugh with, and someone I learn from. He is my Uncle Mark. I miss him already and look forward to when we can laugh together again.