Mark died when he was sixteen of what, at the time, they called "primary pulmonary hypertension." I gather they call it something different these days, but either way it's very rare. Basically, he had high blood pressure - but only in his lungs. Because the pressure in his lung vessels was so high, oxygen couldn't penetrate. I have a copy of his autopsy report - mom felt it was important for Bruce and I to have copies for medical history issues. I tried to read it a few years back when the second family member had to have an aortic valve replaced and I was feeling a little insecure about my cardiac health. It's much too dense in medical terminology for me to make heads or tails of - it will have to wait in the file until someone with a clue can explain it to me.
I don't know much about his illness. I know that he was sick for a long time before mom and dad realized it, and I know that the doctor told her later that she shouldn't worry about that - the only difference it would have made was that they would have known that there was nothing they could do for him for that much longer. I know that he spent a lot of time in the hospital in Rochester, because he was beyond the level of care our little local hospital could provide, and that mom drove back and forth a lot. Obviously, I know that he died from it.
I don't remember him. I remember a time when I did, but the memories themselves are gone - only their shadow remains. It makes sense, as I was only one when he died in either 1970 or 71. I'm told that he adored me - that since he couldn't do much at that point, he would sit and read to me so that mom could get things done around the house. Somewhere in a box in the basement I have a stuffed animal that he got for me on an Easter-egg hunt type of thing either with the church or the boy scouts or something. I gather that he got a hellacious case of poison ivy because he had to have it for me.
I wish I remembered.
I have lots of family stories about the scrapes that he and Bruce got into when they were little - all from mom. Bruce doesn't talk about him. Ever. They were only two years apart, and their dad had died not that many years previously, so I can understand. But I hope he's told his boys about their Uncle Mark - goodness knows *I've* gotten mileage out of the stories my mom has told me. And if Charlotte had gotten a y chromosome instead of another x, that would have been her name.
So here's to my brother - he loved me, he played "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles *incessantly,* and he wanted to be a marine biologist.