We Showed Up

There’s a huge advantage to living nearly halfway across the country from the rest of your clan when you are 21 and you are a brand new dad. This formative experience fosters deep bonds between you and the other two members of your unit.

Being so young and suddenly thrust into the role of parents forced the two of us to become really clear about our lives and our love for one another. Yes, I suppose we could have gone in the opposite direction, but what we lacked in money and resourceswe more than made up for in devotion to one another and our newborn baby boy, Mark.

When I look at photos of the two of us from the early 1980s, I’m struck by a couple of things. First, I’m amazed at how young we both looked. This was the stage in life when many people our age were getting started on a career, and contemplating what grad school to apply at. For the two of us, it was cobbling together enough cash to pay our rent, keep one of our two clunkers running and on the road, and later, how best to sync our dual work schedules so that Mark could have a parent home, spending time with him and nurturing his spirit.

On the steps of our duplex in Chesterton, IN (circa 1986)

After I fell out with the God people in Hammond and Crown Point, Indiana, I landed a job working in a prison. While Westville Correctional Center sure as hell wasn’t glamorous, it offered decent wages and even more important for our young family at the time—access to health insurance and our first HMO. Continue reading

The Celebration

I’ve written an obituary for our son. Then there were several days worth of interviews following his senseless death along US 90 in Florida, when he was struck and killed by a motorist. Mary has been dealing with all manner of details related to Mark’s life (and death), too.

Yesterday, we gathered with hundreds on hand at Brown University (and many, many more watching the celebration on live stream) and told what our son meant to us as parents. So did an amazing gathering of people from across Mark’s life.

Program cover-The Mark Baumer Celebration of LIfe

Two weeks out from losing Mark, today is similar to every other day since we received the news that fateful Saturday night. We’ll never not remember the date, time, and what we experienced then—a sense that time was standing still. Continue reading

Health Matters

There’s this debate about whether or not health care is a fundamental right for Americans. The divide, like with most issues, seems to come down to ideology.

I was reminded again this weekend that this issue has been debated for the entirety of my lifetime, and another 30 years prior to my birth. It’s affected me personally and our family, especially relative to the birth of our son and now, seeing him transition into adulthood. Continue reading

Another year older (almost)

The Baumer family meets up in Providence, RI

The Baumer family meets up in Providence, RI

One year ago, I was in New York City celebrating my 50th birthday, a surprise getaway weekend arranged by Mary. This year it was less about Broadway and Times Square, and more about local foods, farmers’ markets, books (of course) and time spent hanging out with our son. We were headed south to another urban environment, but this time the destination was Providence, Rhode Island.

Parenting might be one of life’s hardest tasks. We step into the role with little to prepare for it other than our own parents’ example. We usually vow to be better, and most of us are determined to put our own stamp on the process. Somehow we manage to get our kids to adulthood, or maybe they get there despite our efforts. Continue reading