Monday, December 26, 2016


My uncle died. I am sad that he is gone, that I will never see his wry smile except on the backs of my eyelids. I am not sad that his pain is over. Chronic illness in these last years made his life a daily challenge, made him old before his time. I am sad that I did not figure out how to be supportive, that I  did not make the transition from niece to friend.

So many of our best family stories feature Mark.

My earliest memories of this uncle are as the humbug in the dark room upstairs who loved cats more than little girls and who did not celebrate Christmas with the rest of the family. The first year he decided to rejoin the holidays, he bought my sister, my cousins and me wild things from Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Ted got Max because he was the only boy at that point. My sister Gwen, Ted's sister Gretchen, and I got Wild Things 1, 2, and 3 in age order.

I am Wild Thing 1.

This toy, now more than thirty years old, still has pride of place in my bedroom.

When I was graduating college, Mark called and asked if he could come. I was surprised, but my mom pointed out that Mark had never had kids of his own, but he had me. He came, and I was glad he was there.

I thank him for teaching me cleverness, for honing my wit, and for showing me through his choices that it is possible to challenge the systems in which we participate. I can be a devout Methodist with heretical tendencies because Mark was an anarchist who worked for the IRS. Remind me to tell you the story about the name tags sometime.

1 comment:

  1. Mark was the best. Always impartial in the way he treated everyone fairly and with love. We would sit and talk all night at a diner until 4 am or later. I could say the weirdest, most twisted things and he would maybe smirk and then say something more twisted. I could tell Mark anything and trusted him completely. Mark helped me walk through some of the most difficult events in my life. He extended himself to help so many, to help those that others ignored. A loss for those who knew him and loved him, and a loss for those souls that society ignores. My prayers are with Mark and his family. Mark may not have believed in Heaven, but Heaven believed in Mark. John P. Monckton - Kings Park, NY