Mark was one of the first people I met when I joined the Des Moines Jaycees back December of 1997. He was one of the happiest, most optimistic people I have ever known. He always had a smile and a hug for you. His wife Leslie was also quite energetic though while Mark used smiles and charm to steer people, she was more like the little bulldozer that could. Still, they were one of the couples that Will and I often socialized with in our early days together and after we were married.
I think I have seen Mark twice since Will’s illness and death. The last time was at one of the first social functions I forced myself attend last year. He was still all smiles but there were no hugs. As cheery as he is, widows make everyone uncomfortable and I remember taking a bit of perverse pleasure in that because the only other time I saw him was with Leslie at Will’s visitation.
They were social friends. I shouldn’t have been angry about their desertion. Much closer friends and family were far more noticeable in their absence, but in the early days, you don’t see fine distinction through the red haze.
Mark found Leslie yesterday afternoon in their home. She had gone home from work with chest pains and when he called to check up on her, and gotten no answer, he went home to make sure she was all right.
She was just a few years younger than I am, I think. Her little boy is about two years older than my daughter. She was someone I knew who drove me a bit crazy on occasion and made poor Will completely nuts when they both served on the Jaycee board together and during the Haunted House the year Will was the chairman.
Mark is a widower now. A single father. And no matter how many family members and friends attend him for the next little while, he is alone.