I have been a very blessed person. I have had the world’s greatest mom and dad. I have the best brother a fellow could ask for. I have been fortunate to live in nice homes. I had nice automobiles. (Although I am basically a Ford Truck kind of guy.) My parents were great providers for my brother and me. We always had the finest of clothes, plenty of food on the table and everything we ever asked for at Christmas.
I have been a very blessed individual!
However, there is one thing that I have missed out on in my life. That one thing that I will never get to experience for myself. I hear a lot of my friends talk about their experiences, but I will never know what it feels like.
I will never know the awesome, beautiful and joyous feeling of being a dad.
For reasons that I find it very difficult to explain or to talk about, I was never afforded the opportunity in life to experience the joy of fatherhood. I was never given the chance. Kind of sad to think about it.
To think about all of the great occasions in life that dad’s get to experience with their children and to know I have missed out on all those opportunities…makes me very sad.
Watching the birth of your child. Holding them in your arms. Rocking them to sleep. Hearing them say their first words. Taking them to church on Sunday. First day of school. Baseball, soccer, ballet, karate practice. Taking them to Chicago to see Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs…(okay, maybe that was just for me). If you never have children of your own, you will never know those times for yourself in life.
I am very proud to say that I have a Godson and he was named after me. Mark Steven Matyskela. “Little Mark,” has I affectionately call him, has brought a lot of joy into my life throughout the years. He is 14 years old and very soon will graduate from middle school and enter High School. I get to see “Little Mark” about once a year. I make an annual pilgrimage to Chicago for Cubs games, pizza, beef sandwiches…. and “Little Mark”.
The 12 hour drive to Chicago and however tired I may be when I get there is quickly wiped away when I walk in the door of the Matyskela residence and “Little Mark” opens the door to greet me and says…”HELLO BIG MARK”. That puts a smile on my face and an even bigger smile in my heart! We hang out for two or three days. We go to the mall and ride the escalator. We go out to eat to his favorite places. We watch YouTube videos that he has picked out. We make funny sounds like a pig sound. He tells me to say things and repeat them back to him…and I do. Once in a while, I might even get “Little Mark” to give me a big hug! Not that often and for not very long. He has to move on to bigger and better things!
I love “Little Mark” very much. I can never say thank you enough to Bill and Val, Mark’s parents, for allowing me to be a part of Mark’s life. Mark is an amazing, loving, beautiful young man.
“Little Mark” has autism.
Not long after Mark was born and coming into his two’s, Valerie told me one day on the phone that he was not talking as much as Sarah did when she was his age. (Sarah is Mark’s older sister). His people skills and interaction with other people did not seem to be what we would call normal. After many tests and procedures, “Little Mark” was diagnosed with autism. He has faced many challenges in his short time here on God’s earth. He has his limitations and his special needs. However, “Little Mark” is one of the most loving, beautiful, caring, fun individuals you could ever be around.
God in Heaven knew exactly what He was doing when he placed the life of “Little Mark” in the hands of two amazing, wonderful friends of mine…Bill and Valerie Matyskela. I have all the respect and appreciation in the world for these two precious people. It is not an easy task to raise a child with autism. As a matter of fact, I know there have been many days that Bill and Val have questioned why God would allow this to happen. I know that because I have talked to them on those days. I feel bad because I do not have the answers to tell Bill and Val. I only tell them that God never makes a mistake and he knew “Little Mark” was going to need two very special people to raise him and bring him up in this world. God used Bill and Val for a very special task…to be the parents of one amazing young man!
I love you, Bill and Valerie!! If there were a Pulitzer Prize for being “Parents of the Century” … I would STRONGLY recommend you two for that award!! God Bless You Both!
So while I never had the joy of being a father to one of my very own children, I thank God every day for an incredible Godson named Mark Steven “Little Mark” Matyskela!! The world is a brighter place…because of him!
Until next time…