This tribute piece has been a long time in the making — 21 years to be exact.
Today is the day!
My eldest brother, Mark Wm. Lindall, was eight years older than myself. Born in the fall of ’49, he was a born “talker”.
His life’s work depended on his gift of gab and his quality of diction. It was quite devastating when he needed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on his tongue. It was a while before he was able to speak after the surgery and he had to go through speech therapy which helped a lot. In the meantime, he used to write out his messages on a large yellow tablet, I still have most of them. His life was cut way too short on August 12, 2000, at the age of 50, the chemo treatments were not successful in his case.
Like most siblings, during our growing years, his teasing could be relentless at times. Mark was always a kid at heart but with our age difference, we had more association with each other as adults than we did as children. There were a few exceptions, like animals and family vacations, to name a couple.
My brother was in 4-H Club and he raised rabbits and ducks as part of that. In addition, he raised pollywogs as they grew into bull frogs. At one time, I can remember there being 14 rabbits and 4 ducks. One of the ducks was a male Mallard, named Perry that was unable to live in the wild.
Even though the rabbits and ducks “belonged” to Mark, I was their keeper for as far back as I can remember. It was my responsibility to feed them, every day, and keep the cages clean. I wrote some background about the animals in previous blog pieces, I will list those links at the end of this piece. The picture on the left below is Gra Gra with Mark.
I found a few pictures from some of the real old family vacations. I had remembered, just barely, that we had visited Niagara Falls and I remember we saw some buffalo in that area.
We commonly went camping and it was an old Army tent in our younger years. I think the picture here below was taken in the Lake George area.
I can remember visiting the old Catskill Game Farm in New York state a few times over the years and I think that is the location of these below pictures with the animals. If not, they are from northern New England somewhere.
In the Summer of ’67, we took a two-week family vacation traveling throughout Pennsylvania. At that time, my dad was working at Leesona and he typically had the last week in July and first week in August off for vacation. He had bought a nice blue 1964 Olds ’88 station wagon, not long before the trip. He also bought a new, much larger, tent and storage container that would sit on the roof racks.
Along for the Pa. trip were my paternal grandparents, so that meant there were seven people total in that car for two weeks. I had to ride in the back-end, cushioned with plenty of “stuff” around me. At some point, I will do a story on this trip–as it is worthy–and I have Grammy’s journal notes from the trip, as well.
In preparing for writing this piece, strangely enough, I actually located a postcard that my brother Mark sent to Gra Gra while we were on the Pennsylvania trip. I have featured the back side of the postcard, this time, because it is the written message that is most important to this posting. The front side of the card shows a picture of IKE, the 34th President.
The postcard was distributed by L.E. Smith Wholesale Distributors, Gettysburg, Pa. and was a published “Plastichrome” by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc., Boston 30, Mass., U.S.A. It has typed: “Greetings from historic Gettysburg” Home of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This card was postmarked, August 9,1967, from Wellsboro, Pa., while we were on that family vacation and at that time, Mark was 17 years old, going on 18.
The message is in my brother’s own handwriting and says:
Dear Indian Grandma,
At the present time I am located in Wellsboro, PA. This evening I just walked into the local radio establishment and made friends “emediately”. They asked if I had a reservation, (not really) I said I skipped the reservation. –Mark
As you can tell from my brother’s message, he was not a very good speller. But, he was very much into radio. His experience began by reporting his high school sports on the local Country & Western station WYNG, in Warwick. Under the watchful eyes of Dave Stackhouse, my brother soaked in the technical side of radio, learning the engineering it took to actually make the broadcast happen.
It was not long before my brother and a close friend began a local station in Charlestown, operating during the summer months for a few years. Mark also worked, on Sundays, for a few years at WSUB, in Groton and later worked for them selling commercial spots.
The other part of my brother’s message on the postcard refers to Gra Gra as our “Indian Grandma”, something Mark was extremely proud of. He intertwined his life with the Native culture and traditions of the Narragansett Tribe.
He and I used to walk the mile in, along the gravel road, to attend the church on the grounds over the course of several summers.
Mark was a big believer in education. He attended and graduated from Rhode Island Junior College (now CCRI) back in the days when they only had the Providence Campus. He went by bus every day. Luckily, we lived on a bus line. He continued his education, earning a Bachelor degree from Roger Williams University, in Bristol. A few years later, he earned a Master’s of Education from URI.
He has helped many young people along the way, whether it be advising on their schooling options or working with groups like the Boy Scouts. My dad had been a scout leader for several years and Mark did a lot of work with the troop, as well.
My brother never married. I think his heart was completely broken once and he never quite filled that hole. He had a couple of girl friends later on but I remember he had a serious girl friend when I was still pretty young. I believe her name was Faith and I remember she came down to the cottage and went swimming with us at the beach. Her family was leaving for Panama, so she had no choice but to leave with them.
In his younger days, Mark used to walk for miles and he had a very distinctive walk, with wide swinging arms. I had a rather strange feeling, just recently, when I spotted a young man with almost an exact duplicate of my brother’s walk.
My brother loved to fish, mostly in fresh water. He also went ice fishing in the winter months.
If I could express anything from the lessons of the final months of my brother’s life it would be these two things:
First, keep up with your dental visits, I had not been aware before my brother’s illness that it is actually your dentist that will discover issues with your mouth, such as a tumor, and you want to catch any issues as soon as possible. My brother had not been to the dentist for a long time due to no insurance so when his tumor was discovered the cancer had already progressed too far.
Second, this one comes from my brother’s final days when he expressed such regret for not getting to visit the places on his so-called “bucket list”. Don’t put off seeing places or doing things you really want to do.
On a closing note: Over these past twenty-one years, since my brother Mark has been gone, I have done my best to experience a few adventures, both big and small.
Until next time…