I first met Mark my senior year of high school. Mark had graduated from Reeths-Puffer in 1973 and was working and going to school while living in Muskegon. We became friends at a party at Nancy Mingle’s house after the Christmas Dance and really hit it off. That same year we celebrated New Year’s Eve together and maybe dated once or twice after that but I wasn’t ready for a real commitment.
Then on Christmas Eve 1977 I ran into Mark and his family at Midnight Mass at Prince of Peace which was held in the junior high gym. We spoke for a while and Mark asked me to join his family for a Christmas celebration the next day. The next day I went to his parents’ house and met his family and they were planning a sledding party out to the Sugar Bowl by Lake Michigan for the next day. He picked me up the next day to go sledding and I had a blast with him and his family. That night after sledding I told my brother Jim that Mark was the guy I was going to marry. Jim said, “But you have only gone out on five dates with this guy.” I said, “I know it sounds crazy but I just know he is perfect for me.”
I was attending Central Michigan University at the time and Mark was in the Navy stationed in Baltimore but was on leave for a couple of weeks. After my Christmas break, Mark offered to drive me back to school. At this time, neither one of us knew what we thought about each other.
Mark had two precious little nieces, Allison and Melissa, who he loved and I had met for the first time on Christmas Day. He told me he was in his second childhood because of these two girls. Well, I thought since he was in his second childhood I would buy him a teddy bear and send it to his ship. After sending the bear, months went by and I never heard from him. I thought he hated me for sending the bear because he was embarrassed by it. I sent the bear in January and he finally called me in April. Mark never received the bear until April because he had been out to sea on Naval maneuvers and never received his mail. He said he loved it and wanted to see me again. Mark was scheduled to have his tonsils removed two weeks later in Annapolis so he invited me to ride with his parents because they were driving out to be with him. I accepted gratefully.