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Our Superman, Mark

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Mark DeWalle is known for many things...determined athlete, member of the 1999 Missouri State 5A Football Champion Panthers of Mehlville High School, son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend.  Mark is a manager of Golf Discount in Fairview Heights, Illinois.   He is an avid golfer.  He is also a survivor of a 2004 battle with desmoplastic small round cell tumors...a very rare and aggressive cancer.  In the beginning of 2007 Mark learned that his fight with DSRCT was to continue.   On June 13, 2007...Mark finally found peace from this disease. 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother's Day...#9 without Mark, but still with him

To Mark's special agents:

I never expect to receive a gift from Mark via your kind efforts.  Every year, I believe that nothing will come, that as time as passed, this special kindness will also go by the wayside.  I cannot, and will not ever be able to tell Mark's delivery agents how special, important, and how much I am grateful for their acts.

This year, I was busy in the morning getting ready for a luncheon I was having for my Mom.  We were going to John and Tabitha's in the evening and I always want the biggest part of the day going to my beautiful daughter in law.  She is a superb mother and I want her to enjoy the time with John and the boys.  I remember when I had my boys at home and all I wanted was time with them.  This year, I decided to have a luncheon for Mom and had made a quick run to the store to get some last minute items.  I am sure there was nothing on the porch when I left.

I think the special deliveries are even more meaningful to Don.  He has tried, like me, to figure out who is doing this for us.  He even wanted to set up some sort of spy camera.  For a few years, I actually thought it was him doing this.  I changed my mind several years ago because the gifts left weren't anything that he would have come up with.  

Because I rarely go in the front door....I always just pull into the garage and shut the garage door once I am in....I had not noticed that there was something on the front porch.  Don was in the basement when I came home and as I putting things away, he went to the front door and noticed this year's gift from Mark on the front porch.

I was just speechless when I opened the door and saw the beautiful satchel bag with a shimmering green dragonfly on it.  On the back side beautifully stenciled was "Mom...You're a really good nurse, Just wanted you to know that."

I cried when I read that.  I remember him telling me that the Saturday morning before he died.  I had a rough night at work Friday and was feeling low about my effectiveness at work due to some pain I have been having.  It was like Mark talking to me.  I don't know how the person/persons doing this even knew I needed that boost.  I would like to think that Mark knew and loved them so much that he was somehow able to convey to them to get this message to me again.  You have no idea how that made me feel....so loved and so consoled by Mark when I needed it the most.

The extra bonus....the special agents left a note.  No, I do not recognize the handwriting and have no idea who does this.  I really don't ever want to know. If they get to the point that they no longer want or can do this yearly delivery from/for Mark....I understand.  But your message gave me a deeper understanding that Mark's friends loved him and haven't forgotten him.  That is the gift that is within the gift.  I have indeed allowed myself to believe that they are from him.  I tell people they are from him.  I have kept every single one and remember the feelings I had when we found them.

Your note.....it goes right into Mark's curio cabinet where I put the most important of remembrances of Mark. Your efforts each year have been right on the Mark. 

 

 

link 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cameron Kozeny: 2016 Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart Award

Ten years.   It has been ten years since Don and me attended a Mehlville Football Banquet.  We looked so forward to going to the banquets when our boys played.  I remember all the work that our fellow Booster parents would do to get ready for the night.  It was by far one of the highlights of the year and one I looked forward to for eight straight years.

Then, we went a couple of years of not attending.  Following Mark's death in 2007, we attended the banquet that fall when John presented the first Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart Award.  It was the result of a promise Coach Heyde, Mark's former teammates, and our family made to Mark before he died.  We didn't attend another one until tonight.

We knew every year when the banquet was being held and knew that the coaches would be presenting the award.  Many times I wanted to sneak into the banquet so I could see the award being presented.  Many years I scheduled myself on purpose to work so that we weren't available.  I don't think I could do that anymore.

As each player was introduced, I felt that they were my kid, my player, my son.  Even though I don't know the players personally, I felt like I did.  I tricked myself into thinking I knew what their inside jokes were.  It warmed my heart to hear teammates cheering each other on, slapping each other on the backs, taking pictures afterwards.  Some things never change and for a few hours it felt like 1995-2001. 

As always, we were humbled by the coaches.  I know how much time these gentlemen give up their own family time.  I also know how much their players love them.  I was so impressed with Coach Heinemann telling his players that he loves them.  I know it wasn't just words...you could feel his pride.

Some of Mark's coaches are still there.  We were immediately greeted with hugs from Coach Meyer,Coach Phoenix, Coach and Mrs Ghormley and of course, Coach Gegg.  It was interesting when Mark was planning his funeral....he was adamant that Coach Gegg have a part in his funeral and Coach Gegg agreed to read the petitions at his funeral.  Even though Coach Beauchamp had never coached Mark...Mark felt that he had a connection with him and Doc.  I remember Mark making an interception against Lindbergh when these two coaches had left Mehlville to coach at Lindbergh.  Doc threw his clipboard.  Mark loved it and loved it even more when Coach Beau would tell us of houses he knew were for sale in Lindbergh so Mark could play there.  I also remember the class that Coach Beauchamp and Doc had when they gave their sincere condolences to our family when we lost Mark. 

I was so impressed with how nice the banquet was and everything the Booster parents had done.  I know the work that is involved.  What outstanding parents this program has had this year.

But, the highlight for us was when Coach Heinemann presented the Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart Award.  I could not stop the tears.  I felt Markie there and as I listened to the words the Coach read...snippets of John's feelings for the program, his brother and what the awards represents, I remembered the promises made.   We have no input, as well as it should be, into who is awarded this medal.  Yet, earlier in the evening when Coach was describing the work ethic and character of Cameron Kozeny, I thought to myself.....he should get it.

When Coach announced Cameron's name, a young man I had never met, I couldn't help but feel Mark saying "See, Mom...see, Mom.....a real Panther got it."

Cameron gave Don and me hugs, and I am sure the last thing he wanted to do was hug an old lady in front of his teammates.  He told us he was very proud, very blessed.

Coach mentioned earlier the brotherhood of the Panthers....and I am know in my heart that Mark is pleased this young Panther brother of his is this year's recipient.  What class Coach has in inviting Don and me to attend this event this evening. 

Please go to the Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart Medal link at the left.

Congratulations, Cameron.  Always remember your Panther brothers. 

link 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Magic Hours

It is that time again.  The time when I go through each day, hour by hour of what happened to us nine years ago.  I was just thinking "This is when Mark told me "I am ready to go, Mom"....and seconds later my phone rang.  Mandy Strout.  I can be assured of a phone call from her at least twice a year.....at this time and also on Mark's birthday.  

 This year it is even more in focus because of the death of Matt Watkins.  Matt's brother, Tim, was and remains a significant person in Mark's life.  We knew Matt had been struggling with cancer and I was reminded how involved and important Tim was in Mark's journey.  On two separate occasions I personally contacted Tim to inform him of what was transpiring with Mark.  The first time I went to Golf Discount.  Mark had been told the night before that he had desmoplastic small round cell sarcoma and the chances of survival were minimum.  Mark insisted on going to work because he was needed because Tim was planning on attending a spelling bee Allison was participating in.  It was very important to Mark to be there for Tim.  I can still see the shock on Tim's face and barely got all the information out when Mark walked into the store.

The next time I went into talk to Tim was January 2007.  This time I had emailed Tim first and he pretty well knew that it wasn't going to be good news.  I wanted Mark to go into the hospital and after talking with Tim, Mark agreed to go.

It is interesting that Matt's funeral will be on the same date as Mark's funeral Mass.  I hope that Tim''s experience with Mark helped him through the past couple of weeks.  I know that Mark was there to meet Matt...he would do anything he could to help Tim...even years after he left us.

Tim's other brother, Dan, helped Tim and Golf Discount with the golf tournament they had for Mark's benefit.  A lasting, precious thing continues to survive that day....Dan made a video and on that video is Mark talking.  I cannot even guess how many times I have played that video so that I can hear my son speak.

I so appreciate people telling me that they remember.  I wasn't even out of bed an hour and I was at the pool and the first thing said to me was by Gwen Houska..."I know what today and tomorrow is".  Meant so very much.  The comments from Facebook, the phone calls...all help Don and me fill the void that this day brings.

I told Mandy tonight that at 8am in the morning...all will be better.

During that last night, after Coach Heyde left about midnight and everyone that was here fell asleep......I sat all night holding my boy's hand and watching him breathe.  At one point Katie was at Mark's bedside.  From time to time someone else would wake up and sit with Mark and me for awhile.  Scott Pope was there.  Frankie was there. John spent the entire evening and late into the night with Tabby and then came by early in the morning before he went to work.  Mary LeGrand came about an hour before Mark passed away.  She, my mom, Jeff,  Don and myself were with Mark when he left.  After that....peace.

We are doing ok.  If you see us, even after the magic hours have gone again for another year, please let us know you remember.  We have never forgotten who helped us through those months, who were there in the days that followed....and who continues to be there to this day.

The memories are never far from our minds.....and as painful as it remains.....we love those that remember as well.

Godspeed to Matt Watkins and many thoughts and our love to his family as well. 

link 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Updating and remembering

Spent some time updating this website.  Worked on the Courageous Heart Medal page and while I was doing this amused myself with some things I remembered Mark saying.  All of them have some sort of story attached.

If anyone has a memory like this....would love to know.  It's the memories that keep him alive for us.  It is that time of year when we are needing them the most.

Here's my short list so far:

 

Things Mark said


  1. Ok, I’ll pay half for the damn thing

  2. Do you think I want to get electrocuted?

  3. My damn tree is on fire

  4. I hate this junky place (the White House)

  5. I visit God on the golf course.  He is always there. I don’t need to go to church.

  6. It’s always 72 degrees on any golf course

  7. He’s my mini-me  (Michael)

  8. I think I am going to cry (when learned of Daniel ‘s middle name)

  9. Can you get me some sheets with a higher thread count?

  10. Just how old do they think I am? ( RE: fireman coming to visit and offering him a ride in the fire truck when he is feeling better……very very  edited!!)

  11. Mom, don’t buy any green bananas

  12. I have cancer and you won’t buy me Bagel Bites!?!?!?

  13. Just go….they will have the Rocky dvds (3am on directive to go to Walmart…and they did have them)

  14. Pearl, will you marry me?

  15. Do you think Walmart can fix Dad’s truck before Dad gets up?

  16. Oh, he did come!!!! (The Easter Bunny)

  17. He didn’t hide it (Easter Bunny left things on table…he was 19 years old)

  18. Oh, since John moved out, I don’t get an Easter basket anymore

  19. I saw him!  I saw him! And he is wearing a Twins uniform!!! (Tommy Herr)

  20. I lost Dad’s money.  I won this on $50 I got out of the ATM

  21. I bought the ring.  I gave them the money (Coming out of 7-11 with no change from my last $20 for milk, giving me a ring)

  22. I gotta tell you Mom, I move home from Memphis I won’t be mowing the lawn

  23. Mom,  that embroidery or whatever……it annoys people!!

  24. Dad….thank you very much.  

  25. Mom….that’s your job.

  26. Mom…..you are a really good nurse.  Just wanted you to know.

  27. Put in there that I loved John with my whole heart (regarding his obituary)

  28. She thinks she is Dr. Kevorkian

  29. I am not mad at anybody.

  30. Tell everyone not to touch me.

  31. Mick…..the turtle….it’s gone!!!

  32. Mick…the turtle…it’s gone!!!  (so worth repeating a second time)

  33. Here…you ask him yourself.

  34. Dr. Stahle said not to lose sleep over it.

  35. Don’t say anything to Tim…..he’s on vacation.  We will tell  him next week.

  36. Why did you tell Scottie? He worries .

  37. Tell him to get that soccer stuff out of my son’s crib

  38. Has Dad started to lose his hair?

  39. You spoil them

  40. I think I want to eat.  I want cauliflower and Honey Nut Cheerios.

  41. I haven’t eaten in about ten days, I can wait another 20 minutes I guess.

  42. Sometimes if you stand up it helps (in doing jumps on Mario Brothers video games

  43. Shut up , Mom.  You  don’t know what they are doing.  (watching Poker on tv)

  44. Quit playing that game, you are horrible at it.

  45. Uncle Mike took us on a bum tour.

  46. Yes, she is a lot of fun (Aunt Debe on World Series Night)

  47. Is Tabby a northern Baptist or a southern Baptist?  I met a girl here she might approvve of

  48. They are real. They were  here  (regarding angels)

  49. Ok, I’ll wear them everyday. (on getting a $50 pair Tommy Hilfiger swim trunks when he was 8 years old….and he did wear them everyday)

  50. I was going to go all summer and not take a shower

  51. I gotta tell you, not this week.

  52. I want to get Tabby something nice from me...think shse will like this?

  53. Just sign your name here mom.

  54. It's going to be huge.

  55. I don't want Juliet to know where we went.

  56. Did you break my toilet?

  57. It's like sleeping under a placemat


link 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Still here, still missing Mark, but feeling happy

Really!?!?!  Two years since I actually posted something.  Silly because a day, and hour doesn't go by when I am not thinking of Mark.  There are several days that it really hits home and one of those days is today....Mother's Day. My ninth Mother's Day without being able to hug my boy....and the ninth one that he has sent his ambassador to deliver a gift to me.

 Don and me left early this morning to attend Mass with my mother and to treat her and Bob to a brunch at the Blue Owl.  Before we left, Don gave me a statue of four monkeys...see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil followed up with an exasperated looking dad/monkey.  He also gave me a nurse statue that will go wit our bricklayer statue watching over Mark's garden.

We came home to find a beautiful blue box on the porch with a stunning dragonfly necklace made out of Swarovski crystals.  I immediately put it on and will not take it off.

Thank you very much, Mark's secret delivery person.  Have I wondered who could be doing this over the past nine year....sure have.  I have even tried to guess.....for a couple of years I thought it might be Butch Marmon, but when Butch passed away and the secret gifts kept coming....I knew it wasn't him.  I don't ever ever want to know so if the person reading this knows....keep it to yourself.  It makes my day and I steadfastly believe that they are actually from Mark.

Later this afternoon I am going to be spending some time with John and Tabitha and the boys.  What joy this family gives me.  There is nothing that makes me prouder than being Mark and John's mom....and mother in law to our beautiful Tabitha.  My heart sings because of Michael, dances because of Danny and giggles and laughs because of Joey.

In one month, I will have been working at Barnes Hospital on the same division for 39 years,  There is still some energy in this old nurse for another good 5-6 years.  I am going for the full boat, the full pension, the full of everything.  Until that time I will hang in there as long as they will have me.

In November, Donnie and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  Lucky me...not only did I get to be John and Mark's mom....I also married my best friend.  We are planning a trip to the West Coast in October....starting with a few days in Portland, Oregon and then heading south.  A very important highlight of any of our October trips is celebrating Mark's birthday.  A couple of years we were in Aruba and on year celebrated by taking a looonnnnggg walk to the National Zoo in Washington DC to see the pandas.  Mark had made  his Grandma Joyce make that walk several times when we went to DC when he was 4 years old ( "I hate this junky place" when he toured the White House.)  This year.....it will be an especially special Mark birthday as we are planning to have dinner on his birthday with a person who was very special to him....Mandy Strout.

In t he meantime.....I am going to enjoy my Mother's Day later with John.....and will be spending a lot of time looking in the mirror at the beautiful necklace delivered to me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart......it means everything to me. 

link 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A resurrected number

Yesterday I awoke to a very strange phone call.  I heard Don say "Mark passed away in 2007".  Once or twice a year we get a call asking for Mark.  One of my favorites was from a health insurance company stating they had a good insurance rate for Mark.  There were many calls the first year so I equate any phone call asking for him as if it were Mark himself calling to tell his Dad and me hello.

After Don informed whomever he was speaking to that Mark had died, there was a short pause before I heard him say "I think I better let you speak to my wife."

When I answered the phone, there was a very kind   voice on the other end telling me that they wanted to get in touch with Mark.   They were a health care provider located in the South County area.  I explained again to her that Mark was our son and that he passed away in 2007.  She said "Well, we have a little problem......someone was here today using his Social Security number."

Now, I have spent the past week daydreaming that Markie was a character in that new TV show, "Resurrection." I have imagined all week what it would be like for him to come back here, what he would think of the changes, what he would think of his nephews, how happy he would be for so many of his friends.  I have been off work all week, so I had a lot of time to daydream.

For a split second...a very split second....I thought my daydreams were coming true.  Then, I snapped back to reality and realized that one of the things that Don and I try very hard to protect is Mark's identity.

Shortly after Mark died, I saw a 20/20 show where they explained that it is fairly common for criminals to scan death notices looking for young people who died young.  It seems the 18-30 age range is prime because these people have been adults and may have established some sort of paper trail.   I knew that Mark being 24, with a strong credit rating, never married, no children (as far as I know) and never been in jail (as far as I know!!)....would be a great choice.  The only thing keeping him safe is that there has only been one or two people with the same name.  Anyone can look up a deceased person's SSN on any geneaology site.

I asked the lady how this possible.  Who was trying to use Mark's Social Security number.  She couldn't tell me...HIPPA and all...but was concerned because when they entered this individual's SSN in their computer (they didn't have insurance).....Mark's name came up as already the holder of that number.  From what I could grasp....this person was still there...and it may be that they were needing to contact the authorities.

Instead, she asked me to verify Mark's SSN.  It took me a few minutes....I thought I knew his SSN...but went and looked up some old tax records.  I told her the number, and she asked if I had anything else to verify the number....so downstairs I went again and found a Golf Discount paystub....same number I had before.

It was then that she said that when Mark had been in there (I have no idea when that was) that whomever checked him in, transposed the last two digits.

What are the odds of that?   Someone going to a health care facility and then having the social security number that was incorrectly entered more than seven years ago.

It can't be anything other than Mark has a strange way of telling Don and me hello.

I give a lot of credit to the person who called.  She was very careful not to violate the privacy of the person who had come for help that day, was very concerned about the privacy of Mark, and was very concerned to make sure that Mark's record was corrected with the correct SSN....even though he wasn't ever going to come in again.

Then again, maybe Mark watched that TV show last week and he had been daydreaming too. 

link 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Finally......

Sweet!!    For the first time in a year, I am able to access Mark's site to post blogs again.  I knew when I bought my new laptop last year that it had something to do with Windows 8.  Spent hours and hours with HP, Microsoft, and Web.com trying to get it fixed.  Always came up with unable to access.  Then last week I downloaded Windows 8.1....and magically now it works.

So much has happened in the past year but one thing remains very constant.....Mark is missed so much.  I am a lucky mom...I get signs from him all of the time.

I am going to take the next couple of days to organize my thoughts.  Since there is another snowstorm coming and I have to go right back to work tonight and tomorrow night as well, I will have my six days off following to post here.   I knew if I kept paying the monthly fee for this website, that eventually it would become available again to me.

I noticed on Facebook that it is World Cancer Day.  I almost joined in and changed my profile picture to Mark for the day.....but decided against it.  Mark told me he didn't want to be known as "the guy that died from cancer" and I am going to continue to honor that wish.

Can't wait to start posting here again because I feel that when I hit the send button....it is not only going into the internet sphere....but also to Mark.

So glad to finally be back. 

link 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Quarter of a Life

It has been over a year since I last posted on this website.  I had every intention of being more disciplined but different events evolved that made it difficult to post.

First, I had some computer issues on the six year old laptop I was using.  It was Mark’s laptop and after changing the hard drive, I couldn’t use the laptop keyboard anymore.  I would have to attach a keyboard and it was cumbersome and didn’t always work.  Ever since I replaced that laptop, I haven’t been able to post because Windows 8 won’t allow me to sign on.  It is my goal in the next day or two to get that resolved.

Now, here I sit at two o’clock in the morning on June 13th….remembering at this moment that I was sitting watching Mark breathe.  Only three hours before he had his last chat with Coach Heyde, and told us goodbye.  His very last words…..”Mom, I’m ready to go.”

Six years ago at this hour  I knew we would be facing challenges as a family, as parents, as a brother in dealing with the details that present themselves following a death in the family.

All I could think of at this hour six years ago was I wanted time to stand still.  I wanted to sit there forever and watch my beautiful son breathe….knowing full well that any breath may be his last.  And when that 8am tee time came in the morning…..what I actually felt was relief.

A parent has dreams for the new baby they bring home from the hospital.  The last thing they ever think of is cancer.

Last year I dreaded the fifth anniversary of Mark’s journey and death.  I struggled with it from January on through May.  I kept focusing on different dates:  Mark’s CT scans, chemo treatments, coming home from the hospital, going back in with nosebleeds and low platelets, and finally telling me that he was “done” and that puzzling look on his face when I said “I didn’t want this for you.”   His response to me:  “Mom, why don’t you want me to see the face of God?  Why don’t you want that for me?”

I guess he felt my angst sitting on his cloud in Heaven.  Events of last summer clearly sent me the message that dates don’t mean anything.  On that dreaded 5th anniversary…..instead of hearing Mark’s grandfather clock chime at 8am…..I heard the patter of three grandsons feet chasing their dog down our hallway as Don and me awoke in our new little bedroom in the basement.  Not planned  until later in the month….John and Tabby and their three little boys, their dog, the guinea pig, the fish and the hermit crabs moved in with us on June 12th while they planned for their next home.

Never again will 8am on June 13th hold just hollow feelings.  It will be the day John’s family moved in for six months.

Last evening was not spent doing a Dragonfly Night.  Instead, I decided to have Angel Moms at my house.  It is something I think I will do for now on.  It allows me to refocus and also know that the constant feelings, thoughts I have about Mark are ok to have.  I can’t make new Mark memories….but I sure can enjoy and relive the ones that I do have. 

Tonight was extra important because we had a new Angel Mom come join us.  A very special one for me because Wendy is the first DSRCT mom that has joined us.  There aren’t many DSRCT moms around because the cancer is so very rare.  Her Alex was only 7 when he passed away.  For most of Alex’s life, I have been missing Mark.

Things said and done at Angel Moms is kept at Angel Moms.  It allows us to talk and not worry our worries, fears, feelings will be shared with others.  I feel that is ok, however, to share one thing.  I had on one of Mark’s DSRCT bracelets…something I wear every June 12 and 13th.  This year, I will only wear it one day because Wendy and me traded bracelets.  Today I wear Alex’s bracelet.

I realized during our get together, that Mark has now been gone for one quarter of what his actual lifetime was.  I can sense that as the years progress and I get closer to 24 years….that I will feel him slipping away again.   If someone had told me when Mark was six that a quarter of his life was over, it would have been very hard to comprehend.

My thoughts are not clear and I feel very scattered this week.  Tearing up at really goofy times.  Talking too much…..talking too little…..shutting myself off from others….putting off tasks that need to be done.  Wanting the world to know….this is the week her son died….wanting  the world to just leave me alone.

Nothing I have done in my life even comes close to the importance I place on my sons.  They are the reason for about everything I have ever done, learned, gone to school  for, worked for.  For Don and me, nothing is as important as John and Mark.

I believe that over the past year, I have come to some sort of peace.   I find myself not going over the details of what happened daily and hourly six years ago.  I know at this time I was sitting as his bedside…alone.  Scott Pope was sleeping on my couch, Jeff Henderson was sleeping downstairs, my mom was sleeping somewhere ….Don was asleep, Katie was asleep and John was asleep on the little couch in Mark’s room.  All these people….and it was once again just Mark and me at 3am.  My last few hours with my Yoda.

Yet, I find these remembrances soothing and peaceful.  I know my son loved me.  I know he loved his dad…..and I really know he loved his brother.  One of the last conversations we had he told me to put “in the paper”  that he loved John with “all my heart.”

I know that, like all of us, Mark had his flaws.  He wasn’t a perfect person….but he was a perfect son.  To this day, he still makes me laugh.  And yes, he still makes me cry.

I wondered during Mark’s illness what I would say when he died or how I would react.  When he took his last breath,  I kissed his bald head and said over and over “I am so so sorry….I am so so sorry.” 

I still am so very very sorry that this happened to our family.  I don’t think there is anything more we could have done to prevent this, to manage it, to survive it.  I feel that we have done the very best we could have done.  We, just like Mark, gave it our all.

Mark left this world loved……and he left it loving .  I know I will see him again someday.  In the meantime…..I watch his nephews and see a whole lot of their father in them….but bits and pieces of Mark as well.

It gives me peace.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Open letter to Mark.....
Dear Mogey, (sorry....Mom just can't help it)

We are a curious bunch.  Dates, anniversaries, moments in time do not go unnoticed.  I know that it has been five years since that last weekend in the hospital...and the dates match up exactly this year which makes it even more pronounced to me.

A certain sadness, yet a very certain happiness surrounds this weekend.  I remember five years ago on this day, you asked for your belly to be tapped....repeatedly....and early that Saturday morning they finally did.  I remember my very good friend, Cyndi Grand, had stopped by with Teddy Bears for you and was there with you during the procedure.  Many friends came by that day.  I think at that time, you had already decided what you wanted to do.

A five year anniversary isn't any different than any other.....the hurt, the sadness, the loss of not having you here is more than Dad and me can stand at times.

I remember those short couple of years following your first chemo that you would celebrate "the end of chemo" on the fourth of July.  You actually would throw yourself a little party.  No party this year.....although knowing you are at peace, knowing that this horrible time in our lives is over....helps shoulder the hurt a tiny little bit.

There hasn't been an hour that I haven't thought about you.  I feel you watching over us.  I know that somethings that I feel I want to hold on to....you wouldn't even care. 

John is considering getting a different car.  He has taken very good care of, and used your car for the past 5 years...ever since you gave it to him.  Dad and I had asked that he keep it for at least two....just so hard for us to give up things that were yours.  John knows that using your car has allowed him to do other things for his family.  Michael and John no longer call it "Uncle Mark's car".  This morning, John and I were talking and I told John that I doubted that you would even still have the Altima if you were still here....and John made a funny face and said "NO!!  He would have gotten rid of it the minute the air conditioning went out."  Mark DeWalle would not be driving a ten year old car. 

Every year we have a "Dragonfly Night" to celebrate your taking control, going to Heaven.  I just can't do that this year....five years.....as if it should be more spectacular or something.  Instead, we will be leaving town that week.  Neither Dad or me want to hear your grandfather clock chiming at 8am on the 13th of June.......go with us...we will be looking for you.

Surround us these coming days.....Mom needs your hugs.

I love you forever,
Mom
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Carried from Heaven
I had a wonderful birthday / Mother's Day couple of days.  My birthday started with a sweet little 3 year old boy waking me up.  I spent the day with Mom, visiting Gwen and John at the pool, did a little shopping, then had a nice birthday dinner with John and family.

I didn't blow out my birthday candles, Joey did that for me before everyone finished singing. 

Friday night the "boys" stayed overnight.  Michael went with me to Joann's Fabric store and we bought special fabric to make special pillows for their Mama for Mother's Day.  One suggestion for others, don't put fabric paint on the bottom of a three year old boy's feet....not pretty.

Daniel and Michael did the sewing on Granny's sewing machine and did a fabulous job!!!  I thought that I would end up doing the sewing but the boys did so well with the machine that while they sewed, I cleaned up.  They were so proud of their finished products and their Mama really liked them.

I started on a quilt for my cousin, Susan.  She is one special lady and kiddingly said she wanted a quilt when she saw the one that I had made for Jenna.  It was no joke for me.  I have put a lot of thought into this quilt and have been working on it a lot over the past week.  I now have all the blocks done and have actually started quilting it together.  The fastest I have ever accomplished this.  It is really very pretty and may be the best one I have ever made.  My absences from this blog have usually meant that I was quilting...and those quilts have always been done fairly secretive as they were gifts for some family brides.  This one, Susan knows I am doing....but she has no idea how spectacular it actually looks and won't until it is delivered to her.  The quilt already has a story behind it as to what I had to do to get the perfect fabric (once I get something into my head...hard to change it.)  I have also already named it....but that is a secret at this time.

My husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday.  I didn't even know he knew what a Kindle was.  Tabitha kidded him and said she didn't know Walgreens sold Kindles (his favorite store).  I immediately downloaded all of Marcus Engel's books....and was so delighted to be able to see on the Kindle the dedication page for his book "I'm here".  It is dedicated to me and the memory of Mark.

Saturday we had a visit from niece Kim and her son Jordan.  Don and I decided that we would sponsor drum lessons for Jordan and he has a shiny new drum.  His lessons start this week and he is going to start spending more time with Don and me.  Talk about a mature, well mannered young man.  Kim has done well as a single parent raising him.  Someday, with Michael on keyboard and Danny on guitar and Jordan on drums....well we may have a hit record in the making.

This morning we went to Mass and then out to brunch with my mother, Bob, Katie and Kyle, Mike and Deb, John, Tabitha and the boys.  It was so nice.  On the way home, Don wondered out loud if "Mark" came to visit.  He suggested that we go to the cemetery and I said no....just wasn't sure I could keep my emotions in check....and said he wouldn't be there anyway...he would be golfing.  That is what he did his last Mother's Day with us....went golfing.  One of the very last times he did.

I didn't look for anything from Mark when we got home.  I know it has been almost five years, and truthfully, I didn't want to be disappointed.  Don looked out the window and said that nothing was there.  He went in the back yard.....I know to check...and came back in and said nothing.  I went into the bedroom to change, and thought to myself...it is ok....whoever had left things on Mother's Day in the past was very kind.  I doubt that they would remember forever.  Then I heard Don yell out  "Well, I was wrong...there is something here!"

On our porch, between the light piers, was a beautiful metal lantern with dragonflies.  The exact same feeling that I had in previous years....with the large dragonfly that is mounted now on our house in front, the smaller (but still large) metal dragonfly that is hanging in a special place in our bedroom,  the balancing wind dragonfly that we keep in Mark's memory garden.....all left with what I feel were gifts from Mark.  I truly look at those things as special Mother's Day mementos.

Again, do I want to know who is leaving them?  No ,  not really.....it would spoil the magic.  What I do know is that whomever is doing this is doing it for Mark.  They must have loved him to be his courier year after year.  They must know that I have cherised these items and know EXACTLY what time of day they were found, what Don and me said to each other, and that the same big lump in my throat and welling of tears occurs whenever they were found...and whenever I look at them.

As with the past four years, I gave John a Mother's Day card.  I wrote in it this year a little story that I thought of early this morning.  I said, to some extent:  "God was talking with the angel who was  helping him pick out babies for mothers.  He said 'Barb gets two.....but one I am taking early so give her first John, as he is one of my best....and he will sustain her forever."

I know I am blessed on this Mother's Day.  I have two wonderful sons.  One who brings me his boys, his joy, his birthday and Mother's Day cards  himself.  The other son has a very special courier who helps him send gifts from Heaven.

God bless all mothers today and everyday.

.
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Monday, April 9, 2012

It has been awhile....

It HAS been awhile since I have posted here.  I have had some long discussions with various family members and they have pointed out to me that there is still a lot to say, still a lot to share, still a lot for me to get down in some written word so that I can make it through another day.

Are we better?  Yes and no.  I still feel as though we are in a suspended animation mode...just making it through each day the best we can.  We are surrounded by Mark.  I still have his khaki golf shorts along with his Memphis sweatshirt, his "Shelly" shirt, and a couple of other pieces of clothing hanging in my closet.  I know he isn't coming back for them...but it gives me great comfort to see them there everyday.

I have been busy working on a project for my nephew, Nathan and his soon to be bride.  I am almost finished with it.  I have been spending a lot of my computer time on this project.  Instead of typing, I am spending long hours just thinking as I work.  I like this quiet activity because it allows me time to think.

It has been five years now since we went through that horror of Mark's illness.  A lot of things have changed over these past five years.  Friends and family have married, babies have been born, work has changed for Don.  Every single change...every single one...I wonder what Mark must be thinking about it all.  And when I am afraid, I know that someone is watching over me.

I can get through most days without crying now.  I finally realized several months ago that I needed to take a more positive look at what happened to our family.  I am trying to concentrate not on the "why me...why us"....but to realize that of all the souls that have every lived, all the souls living now and all the ones to come.....God chose me....simple little me....to be Mark's mom.  I am so blessed.

I don't know what I would do without having John here near us.  I can see Mark in him...and yet he is someone totally different.  John remains our voice of reason.  Nearly everything Don and I do we run past John.  Perhaps we do this because we need his support....but I think it probably is also because we know in our hearts that is the role he always has had.  Mark looked to him for validation.  Mark idolized him.

Last week when there was the frenzy over the Mega Millions Lottery.....I grinned as a wrote down the numbers for Don (he had of course fallen asleep).  I was reminded of a trick John played on Mark several years ago.  Mark just knew he was going to win the lottery....and was very distressed that he was going to be working at Tee Time when the numbers were drawn.  John told him that he would call him with the numbers.  Sure enough, around 9pm, John called Mark while Mark was working the go cart track at Tee Time.  I only wish I could have seen Mark's face as John read off the winning numbers....and Mark checked his ticket.  Every number John read to him was on Mark's ticket.  John didn't get the actual winning numbers...he just read numbers off a piece of paper that he had written Mark's lottery ticket numbers on.  For a few moments....Mark thought he was a winner.

For the past five years there has been a handmade cross at Mark's grave.  It appeared there after a visit from Mark's Uncle Mike.  The original one burned in a firecracker fire.....and it has been replaced once or twice.  Don and I thought it would be nice to have a more permanent, stronger cross.  We found one at a hobby center and took it to a welder to have it put on a stand we could put in the ground.  We had Daniel help paint it.  One Sunday afternoon, John and his boys, Don and me went to the cemetery to put Mark's picture, his new cross and some flowers on Mark's grave.   It is a tradition in our family to put pennies on his grave and we allowed the boys to take the  pennies that were there.  The boys cleaned the stone, and helped put the cross and flowers so that they looked just perfect.  Don then took Michael to show him his grandfather's grave...just twenty feet away.   John, Daniel and me stood there and admired how nice Mark's grave looked.

"What about the money?" Daniel asked.

I reached in my pocket and said I didn't have any with me.  John reached in his pocket and pulled out a quarter.

"Will a quarter do?" he asked Daniel.

"I guess so." was Daniel's reply.

John handed Daniel the quarter so Daniel could put it on Mark's stone.....and Daniel took it from John and promptly put it in his pocket!!!!   I asked Daniel if he thought Granny was going to pay him to "clean" Mark's grave and he nodded yes.  I told him that wasn't one of the jobs I was giving him to make money (he pulls weeds for me).....that anything to do with Uncle Mark's grave was to be from the heart....and he told me he agreed.

As we were driving off....Daniel said to me "I think Uncle Mark has the nicest grave in the cemetery."

I am sure Mark is pleased.....pleased that Daniel is so much like himself....and pleased that he has the nicest grave in the cemetery.

All of John's boys have some combination of Mark's name.  Michael's middle name is David, Daniel's middle name is Mark, and Joey's middle name is David-Mark.  All three are carbon copies of their Daddy....so much like John in looks, personality.....but all three have a sprinkling of Mark.

I know that one of Mark's biggest disappointments was that he knew he would not physically be here with the boys.  He had confided to me that they would "forget" who he was.....and I promised him that this would never  happen.  Even our little Joey knows who Uncle Mark is and will pick him out in pictures.  Joey knows that the grandfather clock Mark made in Coach Heyde's class will someday belong to him.  He can point out to anyone the metal plaque on the inside door of the clock that says "Mark DeWalle." Don and me decided that since Joey didn't get any time with Mark...then he gets Mark's "time".  He knows why Granny wears a dragonfly necklace.   Michael will share with me things that he has a vague memory of concerning Mark.  I think Michael, senses Granny's heartache better than anyone and always seems to know the right thing to say to me at the right time.

Perhaps one of the best signs that these boys have Mark in their heart and soul was an "essay" that was found by Tabitha.  Like a good mom, she was going through Daniel's bookbag and found a school paper...one that she immediately showed to John.  Early one morning, on the way home from work, Tabitha called me and suggested I stop by and read something Daniel had written.  I was so moved by what she showed me.  (go to the link  "Danny's Tribute".  I am not sure what hit me first....that Daniel was writing his middle name on his papers....or that he was writing about Mark.  How sad that a first grader writes that terrible word "cancer" (or in Daniel's spelling, canser).  I was left with thinking that most of Daniel's memory of Mark has to do with Mark's grave and the fact that he had died.  I took the paper home with me, and cried all the way home....because I knew that one of the fears Mark had...that his nephews wouldn't remember him...just really wasn't true.  The next time he came over, I got out the scrapbook that Mandy and Lisa had put together with all the wonderful notes Mark's friends had written.

I am not sure if Mark would be more pleased that Daniel was thinking about him.....or if it would be that Daniel was going to give him a hundred dollars!!!

Another Mark story that recently happened concerned Tabitha.  Several months ago, this busy mama spent a lot of time preparing for, studying for, attending classes and taking the exams required to be a real estate agent.  In one of her first open houses.....not one she had listed but one that she volunteered to do...she had a Mark experience.  The people still live in the house, but of course were not there during the open house.  She had a few people come through, then some down time.  She walked around wating for some more people, when she noticed a picture on the wall....not just any picture....but a picture of Mark.  What are the chances of that?   I told her it was Mark saying "Hi, Sis....you're on the right track and everything will be fine."  We eventually discovered the house was owned by a good friend of Mick and Jeff's...and of Mark's.  I remember Mike Gilb coming to the hospital several times when Mark was so sick...and Mark would just laugh and laugh.  Still, I know that Mark is around even when we don't expect him to be.

This past week, I had one more.  Michael has been taking piano lessons for over a year and is really starting to be very very good.   He often plays our piano when he is here and I love listening to him.  I noted that Tabitha had written on Facebook last week that the boys were playing music before school....Michael playing a new classical piece and Daniel playing guitar (I am sure Johnny Cash).  The boys were here Friday morning and I had just finished a12 hour shift and was going to bed to get ready for another.  I called out to Michael to play his new piano piece.....and shortly I heard a very very good rendition of a familiar melody that made me immediately get out of bed and run down the hall.

Fur Elise.....the only thing Mark could play on the piano.  The first Christmas I made efforts to find music boxes for several people who helped us during those months.....and each of them played Fur Elise.  It has been the ringtone on my phone since Mark died.  And now, Michael plays it for me.

I continue every waking minute of every day to find signs from Mark....and I think about him constantly.  I keep hoping to dream about him but I think I am too tired to dream when I go to bed.  In the mean time, I believe he continues to reach out to me through John and his family.

I suppose that one of the reasons I haven't written here is that this time of year I relive the days of five years ago.  Sometimes it is comforting to remember...but often it is so hard.  So many disappointments realized...but also some funny moments.

Easter is a day of rejuvenation for me.  I don't need any sunrise service....I know that the meaning of Easter is what allows me to look forward to Heaven...and to seeing Mark once again.  I know to cherish the son I have here now with me and the wonderful family he has created.  God has gifted me twice.

Today, on our porch...was an Easter surprise.  In it.....a beautiful stained glass dragonfly wind chime...and a bag of  Dove chocolates.  I immedialy tore open the card and was so pleased that Jenn Miller had remembered us....and also disappointed that we missed her.  Such a perfect gift from such a good person.  Five years and she still remembers.  And...Dove chocolates???  Dove.....a beautiful bird of peace and love....and the PERFECT thing for Don.  He absolutely loved it.  We have discussed a special place to put the chimes and are still debating....but they are going to be a reminder to me throughout the year about the meaning of Easter.  What a wonderful gift.

It has been awhile since I posted here....it felt good.  It was a good day...Easter Day....and I am blessed that we have family and friends to sustain us when we are low.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Congratulations to Brandon Zufall

Now our family holidays can really begin.

Looking back over the past couple of years of writing here, it is easy to see how every year at this time I begin to falter.  It doesn't take much to make me really sad, feel really empty.  This year is no different than others.

Then, something happens every year that lifts not only my spirits, but those of Don and John as well.

Without even attending the Varsity Footbal Banquet, the day after, I can sense that something special has happened.  It is somewhat all about Mark, somewhat all about us....but absolutely all about a Mehlville Panther football player.

Last evening, Brandon Zufall was awarded this year's Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart Medal.

My heart is soaring.

I know that the football coaches probably cringed from the years 1992-2001 whenever Mama DeWalle would talk about the "softer side of football."  Even then, I knew there was something special about the football program at Mehlville.  So many special people we met during those years.  So many special moments.

I know that those moments have been shared by countless parents.  I know that feeling of watching your son work hard towards a goal, go into the battle with his friends, and have a special bond that I think only exists in special circumstances.

Typical awards given out at banquets and post season Conference and District honors have always been a big deal in this house.  The award that doesn't necessarily show itself in team statistics is the one I think will stay forever.   I can't see the MVP, the best linebacker, the record setting yards rushed....still being able to be awarded to the same person ten, twenty years later.   Age, weight, not working physically out everyday will soon take their toll. They are awesome awards, something to be proud of...but understanding the spirit of the game, the importance of team bonds, and promises made to oneself and others will be as strong 20 years from now.  Not much can change spirit. 

As in past years, we knew when the award was going to be presented.  Both Don and I were wondering who was going to receive it, and as in past years, were not told until the night of the banquet.  (Oh, and the work involved in that banquet....KUDOS to the parents, the coaches that planned this event last night...so much work, but a highlight of the year for football players and their families.  I always wanted it perfect).

The decision as who will get the award is left to the coaches and teachers of Mehlville.  Don and I have never "put our two cents in" as the award is not about our family, not so much about Mark...but about the player himself.  We just know that the player receiving it suddenly becomes a very special part of our family. 

Mark loved us.  He loved his friends.  He loved golf.  But one thing I know Mark loved more than anything else, was Mehlville Football.  Those years he watched his brother played, standing on the track at endzones all over St. Louis to catch PATs......the time he told Coach Heyde when he was still in 6th grade "You will win State when I am a junior"...getting his varsity satins and becoming a two way player from Sophomore year on, the State years...his allegiance, love and honor of his teammates and of the game.....that was Mark's core.

I also remember that one of Mark's last thoughts were with football.  The story has often been repeated and remains one of the highlights of my life.  He wanted to see Coach Heyde and at nearly midnight June 12th, Coach came over after being called so late in the evening by one of Mark's friends, Scott Pope.  Wearing oxygen, weakened, Mark asked Coach if he had let him down.....let him down by stopping chemo.  Knowing through Coach that he had not let his beloved Coach down, and hence, kept the honor as well for his teammates, Mark was able to let go.  He prayed with his brother, asked me for medication...and when I told him that giving him medication he might stop breathing....Mark said to me...the last thing he ever said..."It's ok, Mom, I am ready to go."   He died six hours later.

The Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart Medal isn't about dying of cancer, it isn't about a young boy who loved Mehlville Football, it wasn't about the player who to this day holds the most consecutive varsity starts in Mehlville history.......it is about that "softer side of football" where honor, love and loyalty to oneself, the game and fellow teammates, the earned respect of coaches and mentors.......those intangible qualities that don't show up in team or even personal stats.

It is so fitting that the Mehlville coaches present this award.  Head Coach Eric Meyer was not only a coach, but a friend of Mark's.  Both he and Kellie were at our home several times during Mark's last weeks.  Their gifts of friendship is something we cherish.  Coach Gegg read the prayer interventions at Mark's funeral.  Coach Ghormley and his family helped out tremendously with fund raisers.  And Coach Futrell.....he was Mark's true brother by another mother....anything else would get too emotional for me and Coach Futrell knows that.

The decision regarding this award then is made by a group of people who not only knew Mark's story, but was a very important part of.  It isn't an award that has lost meaning for the coaches.  Mark loved them and I know that the decision they made was not made without careful thought and consideration.

We are so proud that Brandon Zufall is this year's recipient.  In coming years, some of the things associated with his years in Mehlville football will fade.  For Brandon, and his parents, one thing is certain:  that his dedication to himself, his personal and team goals, his allegiance to his teammates, and the respect he earned from his teammates, teachers, and coaches is something that did not go unnoticed.

After working last night, I slept all day.  I checked my email before getting ready to go to work this evening, and received and email from Brandon's dad.  It warmed my heart, made me happy.  I know that parents want their children to be noticed for their accomplishments, known for their values, remembered for their individuality, respected by their peers and mentors.  I know that Mark's award has provided Brandon and his family with all of this.

As soon as I can get a picture, I will post one of Brandon.

Take it and run with it, Brandon.  We will forever be your cheering section.  Keep that spirit alive in whatever you do.....and you will not only be successful, but also that person who others see have that special quality.

Find that in the stat books.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Continuing on....
I really appreciate the postings made by Mary, Chris, Lindsay, Kay and Tracy.  Yes, have been in a little funk over the past couple of months.  Some of it I am sure is just the holidays...some from some trials that I am going through.  Having people take the time to let me know some things are OK,  sad feelings are normal, and that there is no rule book concerning our grief has been helpful.

I signed for another year here.

I know that my family rarely, if ever reads this....but I have learned that people who consider themselves friends of Mark's do...whether they were his friends while he was here or have become friends since he left.  I actually believe that these are the people that give me an outlet...not this website.

I miss Mark every single minute, of every single day.  I think about what he would think of the changes that have happened in his world since he died.  The friends that have married, the babies that have been born.  I spend almost every moment thinking about what he would think about certain things.

Perhaps for some, it isn't a "good" thing to do.  But I find immense pleasure in remembering every little moment of his life.  I love thinking how he may react to certain things.  I know very little of smart phones....but I am sure he would have been all over it.

Over the weekend, John got in our attic to help us clear some things out.  I found another bag of Mark's clothes.  I saved a few items, gave John the camouflage pants that he and Mark bought for paintballing....but donated the rest to Goodwill.

That is considered healthy by some....but for me it was difficult.  I am hoping that someone will find enjoyment in Mark's things.  It is just very hard to let go and continue on.

I know that there are some that feel Don and me are way overdue of putting Mark in a special place and not have him take up so much of our thoughts, our time.  But, when there is not much to do, not much energy to do anything....one resorts back to their memories to pass the time.

As a result, I have made some outwardly changes to ease those that may have issues with how Don and me feel.  I feel bad that perhaps I have made others uncomfortable with my dragonflies, etc. 

I limit myself now to only three Mark comments a day.  I try and keep track and I am sure there are days I say his name more than once.  But, I have made a concerted effort to reduce it.  This doesn't mean that I don't think about him constantly and the experiences we had with Mark.  I also don't count any of the times (and they are fairly frequent) that I make comments to Don.  I also don't count the times (not as frequent) that others make about Mark.....if they bring him up...that's a freebie to me.

Do I like this?  No. No. NO.  But I also don't like that some others may be uneasy over my "constant" Mark talk.  It makes me mad.....but they cannot take away my thoughts and if I want to sit quietly....then I am alone with my Mark thoughts and that is fine with me.

I bought a new Christmas tree Saturday and threw out my Heaven tree.  It was pretty sad looking...but I want to make efforts to de-Mark some things..and this was an easy way for me.  I didn't like the tree that much anyway.  It was a tree I bought very cheaply to get me through the first couple of Christmases.  I am still using the dragonfly ornaments....but it looks more like a Christmas tree now.

At least, I am trying outwardly.  Like I said...inwardly nothing changes.

It makes me feel sad that I feel others think it is time for me to move on.  It is something I just can't do and one of the reasons I don't post here often.  I can't move on.  I don't want to move on.  But maybe if I do little things to make it seem otherwise, people will think I have. 

They won't know the truth unless they read it here. 

For those who do read these things here....thank you for allowing me to continue.  As long as my fingers can type, I will continue to not only think about Mark, but put those thoughts down.

Others may feel it less, may think it less, maybe even forget.

I never will.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another long boring day. Only thing different is that I will be working today, so the naps actually have a purpose today.

I appreciate the comments made on the guestbook page regarding whether or not to keep this website going.  I really appreciated the phone call from Mandy .... seems she always knows when to call and check on us.

Per the phone call with Mandy....who I was able to explain everything to....and the guestbook messages, I will at least try to keep it going for a while longer.  I need some time to sort my thoughts and Mandy is right....if I stop.....evil wins.


I am finding the coming holidays with me in a continuous low mood.  I have learned that time doesn't make it easier.....even harder because others don't want to be bothered, hear, remember, whatever of why one's holidays aren't the same.

Just wish I had reason to get excited about the holidays.  For the first time in a very long time, I will be awake and off work on Thanksgiving.  I put up my Thanksgiving decorations after Don did some searching in the attic and the garage for them.  I am doing what I can.....just wish the hoidays weren't coming.

At any rate, should have lots of time to post that day!!!!
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Some things I will try to change...some things I will not,
I last posted on the 19th and had plans, notes for the next blog as there were things I wanted to say. 

All that really needs to be said is that I felt real bad that I had to work on the 19th.  I called my dear friend Lois...and wished her a happy day.  It was Jimmy's birthday and Lois and Jim spend every one of his birthdays making a big turkey dinner celebration.  I have gone a couple of times and usually try and schedule myself accordingly.  This year things just didn't work out workwise and I felt bad for her.  I know what that day means.  It also happens to be the same date that my dad died....and my dad loved little Jimmy Brockmeyer.  It makes it doubly special.


An angel mom never goes two minutes without thinking about the child.....true child or adult child...and the memories made during that persons childhood and football years and golf years....etc. etc.  Not one minute.

I have come to realize nearly everybody has put Mark in a place....to take out and remember on their own good time.  I suppose that it is some form of healing for them.  It will never happen for me.  Mark will never be put anywhere but in the forefront of my thoughts. 

I have come to realize that dragonflies for some are a nuisance of sorts.  I assure you I did not set out to find a symbol or some cutesy thing to collect in the name of Mark.  There is of course, a dragonfly story that started things out...but for me it has evolved into something more.  For one, they are in the shape of a cross..and remind me of Mark telling me he was a believer in Jesus Christ and what ever happened, he was going to Heaven and "win either way."

Secondly, so many people have come to associate dragonflies with me, with Mark...that when they see them, they are compelled to tell me about it.  It is my "hello" from him.  For those who are disturbed by this....all I can say is find something else to bother you. This is not going away.

The dragonflies always have been a source of comfort for me...not ever intended for anyone else.  I will still use them as certain signatures, as in my quilts.  There won't be anymore dragonfly nights, dragonfly birthday, wedding, Christmas cards.

There are very few dragonflies I have (and I have a lot!!) that I have bought myself.  The most beautiful one is the one hanging in my living room window that Don bought me for my birthday. Yes, he too sometimes make a face over my dragonflies.....and I finally told him last spring not to make any comments about dragonflies anymore...they make me happy.  I think he bought that for me because he finally understood the meaning it had for me.

 A very special one was drawn by a 5 year old boy who is very special to me....it has been hanging up in my sewing room for the past four years and will stay there until I can no longer see it. 

Most of the ones I have...have been given to me.  Three in my kitchen were given to me by three of my Angel Moms on three different occasions.  I suppose they wouldn't bring but a few pennies at an auction....but for me they are worth millions. When I am down (and if you haven't figured it out yet, that is where I am)...I look at those dragonflies from Gwen (too countless from her to mention), Christine and of course Lois...and know they are sending me hugs in the middle of the night.  Just as I never tire of their stories, they never tire of mine.  They are even all the more special because Mark knew all of their angels and they all were strong impacts on my life.

Don must have gone to the cemetery while I was asleep one day last week. I found in the back of my car the marker and cross from Mark's grave.  A couple of times a year we have to remove everything per cemetery rules.  Doesn't matter...for me he really isn't there.  He is always here or whever Don and me happen to be.  He has never left.

There was more, much more written here at this time.  I have deleted it.  I need to think long and hard whether or not to continue this website.  If I have to go back and edit my thoughts, perhaps I shouldn't be putting them here any longer. 

Will think about that for awhile and make a decision soon.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

World Series comet..

Yes, I meant to write comet..not comment.

On October 6, 1982 Mark was born.  I watched the rain..lots of rain...from my hospital bed at Deaconess and saw Highway 40 bumper to bumper for hours.  People going to Busch Stadium...then people coming back from Busch Stadium after the game was called.

I went home on Saturday. That evening, after the family and friends had left, I took a much needed nap.  Mark sat in his pumpkin seat on the kitchen table and watched the playoff game with his Dad.

Mark's first World Series events came the week he was born.  Ken and Mae Schnurbusch went to one of the games and got Mark a program.  I still have it packed away.

There were a couple of Cardinal World Series.  I remember dropping a 3 year old boy off at his Aunt Katie's so that Don, John and me could enjoy a WS game at Busch...compliments of Grandma Joyce sleeping on the sidewalk.  Mark didn't get to go but he watched the game with his Aunt Katie.

Whenever there were playoffs.....Mark would try everything he could do to get to the game.

In the spring of 2005, he came home from Memphis during the week specifically to go to a Cardinal's game.  Michael and Danny were at the house, and Mark spent the morning playing with Michael...then announced that he had to go to the baseball game.  "Watch for me on TV!!" he told Michael.  He dressed in his Cardinal jersey...and off he went.

I put on the TV to hear the game and went into our TV room...finding Michael inches from the television.  When I asked what he was doing he said "I am watching Uncle Mark play baseball."  He thought Mark was one of the Cardinals and Mark never let him believe otherwise.

Mark's last WS season....2006.  He was living back at home and loving every single minute of being in St. Louis.  He went to the last game....didn't have tickets....but was outside Busch Stadium.  After attending a Marcus Engel book opening.....his Aunt Debe met up with Mark and his friends.  I think Debe drove a couple of excited drunks home that night.  Some of my most favorite pictures of Mark were taken that night. 

I commented to him the next day that it must have really been "fun" having his aunt with him.  "She is a LOT of fun, Mom.  We had a really good time."

When I called Debe on December 27, 2006 to tell her Mark's cancer was back and that I needed her and Katie's help in breaking the news to my mom, the first thing she said was "I am so glad I had that night with him."  I know Mark felt the same way.

So, when the Cardinals won the other night over the Brewers (the same team that they played against in the WS in 1982)....I felt somewhat down.  My first world series without Mark.....and how he loved his Cardinals.

I like to the Cardinals in the World Series like Hailey's comet......a win in 1982 the month he was born....then no win until 2006....Mark's last full Cardinal season.

Something tells me he is back in town.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

24 and holding

I only say on Mark's birthday how old he would have been.  Today that would be 29....but in my heart, in my mind, he is always 24.

This morning Don and I went to 6am Mass.  Wasn't sure if we would make it but Don set the alarm and woke me up.  It was dark when we went into the church, and dark when we came out.  A quick, typical 6am Mass...short, sweet, and to the point.  For the first time attending a "Mark Mass"....I didn't cry.

Don and I went out to breakfast, then came home and answered some emails.  I took a nice nap, and Don watched TV.  We spent a little time outside, then got ready to go to Mehlville to watch the freshmen play...but not before we made a couple of stops.

First, we picked up some balloons we had ordered for the boys to let go to Mark, then we went to the cemetery.  Don and me tied a birthday balloon to the wooden cross on his grave and again, I thought about the day he was born.  One of the best days in our lives....only one other day matches it and that is the day John was born.

We went over to John's house and waited for Daniel and Michael to get home from school.  Everyone piled in my car and we went to the game.  It was the first football game Joey had ever been to and he quickly learned the finer points of the concession stand.

It also didn't take long for Joey to spot his Daddy.  The boys kept waving until they finally got John's attention and he waved back.  The next best thing for me to watching John play football  (through that memory video I have in my head) is watching John coach football.  I love watching him on the sidelines interact with his players.  I kept thinking back on his football days...some of the most wonderful times we had.  I also thought of his brother....and how I wished his brother was here enjoying watching him, being proud of him.

Less than 5 minutes after thinking this I heard someone call me.....and saw a handsome young gentleman coming towards Don and me.  He had on a state semifinal pullover jacket that all of MY Panthers got a their Varsity banquets.  I honestly would never have recognized him...and then I saw his name on his jacket...Deonte......and immediately my heart melted.  One of John's teammates....one of his brothers.  One of MY boys.

I was so glad to see him.  Deonte always was one of my favorites and I proudly introduced him to John's boys.  Deonte told me he has four....FOUR!!! kids...two girls, two boys.  I told him that this was a special day....and he already knew it.  We laughed about the pregame meal that it was so cold outside, that after they had finished eating, all got into the drawer downstairs with Don's long underwear.  Deonte scored a couple of touchdowns that night...wearing Don's long underwear.  I reminded him that I could still see him running in those white football shoes of his.  I was pleased he was a strong family man, had a good job, and seemed very happy, content, successful.  Makes a mother...albeit team mother....proud.

The first time I met Deonte was on that day years ago when John brought a few....four I think, players home for lunch.  Deonte sat at my kitchen table after eating hamburgers that Mark had fixed.  Markie was cooking as fast as he can and it was that day, that instant, that I know Mark saw the companionship, the special teammate bond that John had with his teammates.  I know that is probably the start of Mark's football career....starting as a cook for a very special group of boys that I will think about, love, until the day I die.

But back to Deonte at my kitchen table.  He quietly, very politely, asked if me "Can we come back again?"  It was with Deonte that we set up the next lunch date.  When that day came....the entire team came over.....and the rest is pretty much history regarding the DeWalles and Panther football.

I thought about all of this while looking at that handsome man sitting with Don and me.  Just minutes before I had been thinking about brothers and how cheated I felt John had been losing Mark.   It had been years since I had seen Deonte.....and here he shows up minutes after I had been having these thoughts......the Panther that really started the DeWalle Panther pregame meals.

I also realized that although John has lost his brother, Mark.....he still has brothers that are there for him.  Deonte had not been back to Mehlville in years...yet it was at this moment, on this day...that he was there.

I watched as half-time was starting, Deonte run down on the sidelines and he and John hug one another.

I like to think it was Mark making this happen. 

I found it also a little magical the final score of the game was 24-0.  I am an angel mom and I have carte blanche in looking for signs.  For me, this was Mark telling us hi....and that he was at the game.  24 years old....forever.   24-0.  24 and holding.

Once again, a little bit of magic happens for me at the Mehlville footbal field.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting close....
I haven't posted here in a long while...last time right at Dragonfly Night.  There are just a couple of reasons why I haven't.

First, I just can't get used to this laptop keyboard.  Seems everytime I type, it skips or deletes because I touch that stupid laptop finger control mouse.  I have tried to dismantle it, just doesn't work.  The past day or two...either I am getting better, or the kinks have finally worked themselves out.

Second, I have spent the better part of the past year making a quilt for Mick and Kyla as a wedding gift.  I worked on it every single day and it was all done by hand.  If you want to see the finished work..go here:  Mick and Kyla's quilt  . I took one of Mark's shirts and made strips of it which I sewed inside the batting in parts of it.  I also quilted nearly 100 dragonflies in the border of the quilt.

Mark and Mick were closer than cousins....maybe the made up word "brosouins" is better.  One was light, one was dark; one was ying, the other yang.  They were three weeks apart, and almost everything that Mark did, somehow or other Mick was there. 

Mick's wedding was one of those top ten events which I knew was going to be stressful for me.  Last year, when they announced their wedding date, I couldn't think or talk about it without crying.  I was very very worried how the day would go.  I decided in October that I needed to do something.  I always realized this was Mick and Kyla's day, not Mark's......but I knew it was one wedding for sure (as well as his other cousins) that Mark would be so excited about.
So, I spent the past year sewing every night.  I would use the time to think about Mark and Mick and pray for them both.  When I turned the quilt over to Mick and Kyla....I felt like a big part of Mark had been given to them.

The wedding was beautiful....Kyla was stunning, Mick so handsome.  Danny was their ringbearer and Michael handed out programs.  I watched Tabby and John dance at the wedding and was so proud to see them together dancing.

Don and me only danced one dance.  We had more fun watching everyone else.  I think the desire to dance was taken away from us when Mark died...neither one of us really feel like dancing anymore.

Jeff gave a fabulous Best Man speech and mentioned Mark.  I was very surprised...and it made Don and me feel really good to hear people clap and cheer at Mark's names...our family, the Amelung family, and all of Mick's friends...a good many of them friends of Mark's as well.  I got a chance to hug those guys that came to Mark's side....Tribl, Schou, Hassler, Gilb.

In many of the flowers were tiny dragonflies.  How kind that was of Mick and Kyla to do that.....I know it was for Mark and for Don, John and me......and the thoughtfulness did not go unnoticed.

For the past two years, on this night, we sailed into Aruba.  Not so this year....finances just wouldn't allow it.  So, for the first time in two years we are spending Mark's birthday tomorrow at home.  Three years ago it was very very hard.  I am hoping that even though it is bittersweet, that we are in a better place.  There will be tears, I am sure.  I have learned that it is best not for me to work at certain points in the year....Dragonfly week, and mostly this week.

We spent the day getting our flu shots, picking up Don's medicine....then going to the Zoo with Joey.  We saw monkeys, baby goats, tigers, lion, bears, ducks and rode the choo-choo.  Just as good as sailing into Aruba.

I plan on resuming my blogs here.  I better...they doubled the monthly rates for it but I just can't let this website go.  It gives me peace, helps me get my thoughts in order....just like it did in 2007 and just how Mick's quilt helped me this past year.

One important thing I have realized over the past couple of months.  Taking into consideration all of the souls that have existed, do exist, will exist....God chose me to be Mark's mom out of all of those people.  For that, I won the lottery, and I am blessed.  That in itself, gives me some peace.

I noticed that we are about 32 "hits" to this site to reach 100,000.  It would be just so cool to hit that number for his birthday.

To all Mark's friends, to all of those he touched, he loved and to all of those that drop by here from time to time, please know it is not this website, not a quilt, not anything but your support that has helped our family.  We know he loved his friends, his cousins, his family and hearing from them from time to time helps us so much.  We feel your hugs.

For tomorrow.....we may go to 6am Mass at St. Francis.  I thought sure I had requested the 8am Mass but at least this time it is listed (unlike Dragonfly Night).  We plan on going to Mehlville High School to watch the freshman football team (coached by brother John!!), then after the game Don and me are going to go to Blarney Stone.  It looks different....but it is still the Blarney Stone and we can't think of a better place to go on Mark's birthday.

We are getting close.....both to 100,000 and to getting through Mark's birthday without too many tears.  Tomorrow will tell us if both will happen.
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dragonfly Night Cancelled
Dragonfly Night is cancelled.  Don and I will be home and John and his family will be here.....so we will be here if anyone happens to come by.  Just couldn't tell how many, if any were coming, so we will be doing it a little low-key...but always open for visitors!!!
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Short note then off to work
Oh,yes...having periods of tearfulness this week.  Those kind of tears that are underlying very sad....but more bittersweet.

Dragonfly Night....wasn't sure what to do then I stopped by John's and Michael is making decorations for Dragonfly Night.  He even knows what it is all about.

So, Sunday evening from 5pm on.....we will be home with a taco bar and making Margaritas with Tabby's new machine.....and remembering.  

It will help those bittersweet feelings if those that remember the magic of four years ago would like to stop by and join us.
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Link to web log's RSS file

Pebble Beach, October 2004
classic_pebble.jpg
Mark hitting the "cancer" into the ocean in 2004

We lost our beautiful son, brother,grandson, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend on a sunny morning, June 13, 2007.  We will never be without him in our hearts.