The wind was howling as I walked to the road to get the mail. The top letter was from Steve Lipsey, a good friend from my teen years. Back at the house I opened the letter to Mark's obituary and picture. I read it. Shocked, I read it again. When we were young, we were great friends.
A web search turned up some info about some huge 46" Northern Pike he caught at the Kasba Lake Lodge in the Northwest Territories. I started to dig thru my childhood memories ...
When did I meet Mark? I'm suprised how blurry my memory is when we had so much fun together. Mark moved into the neighborhood when I was around 10. I remember walking along the graveled Bruce Road for 3/4 mile to get to his house. He had a long drive and I had to check if the dogs were out before I approached the house. The Doberman's were as big as I was and pretty scary.
Mark, I, and sometimes his younger brother Mike, explored the woods regularly and did what kids do growing up in rural Illinois ... build forts, climbed trees, explored Messenger woods, rode our bikes down Suicide Hill, trespassed to fish at the best fishing pond around and threw dirt clods and worse at cars, while hiding behind the roadside treerow. I remember us running through the tall corn rows while being chased by irate drivers. Great fun for us!
Mark's parent's, Ed & Joyce had a nice property with horses and a corral. Later they built a big corral out back for rodeo practice. Mark, Mike & Lynn were big into the rodeo stuff. They had a pet baby racoon for awhile. It was really fun to play with but it wandered off as it got older. Mark had a great place to grow up.
When it was time to go to high school, Mark went to Providence High and I went to Lockport High. We still got into trouble together but we made new friends and slowly grew apart. Mark introduced me to Steve Lipsey one night at the drive in movie. We watched a Monte Python film. I'm suprised I remember it the day after and even more suprised now. Trouble was our middle name back then.
Mark expanded his horizons while I went to college. He told me the wild times he had at Octoberfest in Germany and more fun times when he moved out west for awhile.
I lost contact with him after I moved to Colorado. I wished I hadn't. Now it's too late. I never met his wife and kids and he never met my wife and daughter. He never knew I lost my leg, from rockfall, in a climbing accident. Now it's too late ...
Mark, I toast your life. You had a good run, man!