July 25, 2008

Mark in the USA again and recently attended his 30th Class Reunion

Mark came back to Austin, Texas after about 9 months in Thailand. He was devastated by the death of his good friend and caregiver Jin. He and I (Mark's mom) think about Jin every day. It is so sad to lose someone so vivacious and young and after such a valiant fight to hang onto life. Such a strange twist of fate that Mark, with his cancer battle, has managed to outlive his prognosis by more than three years while several friends have died. Mark and I are doing our best to stay alive and to have as many adventures as possible.

Last week we went to Jacksonville, Illinois for four days. Jacksonville is famous for being the home of the Ferris wheel, built by the Eli Bridge Company. Jacksonville has two liberal arts colleges (Illinois College and MacMurray College), a school for the blind and a school for the deaf. It used to have a state hospital for the mentally ill but that closed and the buildings were all demolished. The grounds of the old state hospital became a park with a working Ferris wheel, operated by the local Rotary club.

Jacksonville is also where Mark graduated from high school. Mark visited with a lot of his classmates and relived wild and crazy times from high school. We visited with Uncle Bob and Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Eileen and with our cousins. Uncle Bob was on a submarine in the China Sea in WWII and we love to talk with him about his adventures and about family stuff.
Two Navy Vets: Uncle Bob Kehl and his nephew Mark Richardson

I got a body glow massage, had a motorcycle ride, and ate catfish at a restaurant near the Illinois River. Being such a small world, I met Josh who works at the new Super Walmart in Jacksonville when I took Sierra, a young cousin, shopping. Josh is the son of my nephew Ronnie's wife; Ronnie and his wife live in Denver. If you get to the Walmart in Jacksonville, say hello to Josh in the deli section.

Mark and I flew into and out of St Louis and drove to Jacksonville. We grazed our way there and back eating at interesting places we don't have in Texas. It was a great adventure and I believe it helped Mark begin to recover some from the shock of Jin's death.

Next Step in Cancer Battle - Mark has an appointment for an MRI August 9 at the VA in Houston. This will help determine if he is still in remission or not. Life is uncertain. Have all the adventures you can and do lots of good deeds.

Proving the uncertainty of life - a few months ago we stumbled onto The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Like Mark, Randy had been given "three months, max" to live. Randy gave the lecture of a lifetime to an audience at Carnegie-Mellon, an awe-inspiring, feel-great, appreciate what you have and keep your humor lecture. It is INCREDIBLE, and if you haven't seen it, check it out at http://www.thelastlecture.com/ . Today in the news I see that Randy Pausch has died; his death is also a loss for all of us, but the inspriation he gave to us immeasurable.

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