Becoming a man

Whale and his grandson Denton

Whale and Denton (The Stingray)

I just got an email from my nephew Denton, and it made me think of my dad. Lots these days make me think of my dad.  Many of you says that will not change Denton is the oldest of all the grand kids at 12 and has the vocabulary of an 60 year old.  I see my dad in him.  The truth is as i read this blog each day I see my dad in you guys.  We are doing his favorite thing, telling stories.  as kids we could sit around the table or living room and here story after story.  Today, share with someone a funny story.  You never know it may change their outlook for the day.

This week you can pray for my family in multiple ways.  Kari just bought a house a few weeks ago and is madly trying to renovate and move in the next few weeks.  Kijsa is returning to life in Paducah after being at the Cape and then McKinney for 6 weeks.  Whitney is returning to life at the museum she works at.  Stephen decided to stay in McKinney rather than travel to Paris for a class.  And I am trying to help my wife with Eli, but that is not working out to well.  The biggest prayer is for my mom.  She is going to travel to Kentucky for a few weeks to try and pick up the pieces.  Please keep here in your prayers as the days and nights seem to move slower and slower as we get farther from my fathers passing.

Once again i am so thankful for the mini “whale” family we have formed here in Internet land.  Share a story today and you could make the world a better place.  Whale did!

13 responses to Becoming a man

  1. Ron & Delores Smith

    Dear Mark and family:

    We are saddened for your family’s loss and unfortunately we were out of town the past 12 days and could not see your blog or attend the service. Prior to leaving town we did learn of Dr. Mark’s condition and were praying hard for him and you during that time.

    What a wonderful blog & tribute to him and to read all of the comments. We wish we could have experienced the service as we’ve heard of how magnificent it was with your family’s testimonies. He is no doubt proud of all of you and obviously did a great job as the shepherd of his flock.

    “Time and circumstances” just did not allow us to get to know him like we should have despite passing each other in the halls of FBC for 15+ years. We know of his personality through his drama (no one will ever forget the one with his grandson)…of his character and heart as a teacher (I knew only of his reputation as a church teacher; from reading the comments I now I wish I could have experienced his Geology courses)…..and of his love for family and Christ through the ongoing lives of his family. His legacy will forever impact lives on earth until the Lord returns.

    I tend to think that one of the best “things” we’ll experience in heaven is that we’ll have no limitations of “time and circumstances”. I’ll get to catch up with Dr Mark and hear some of those stories so many have expressed……..perhaps even about ol’ Taco?

    Will life ever be normal? Maybe “new normal” as described by others best expresses that. Or perhaps “normal” is indeed eternity in heaven with Him and our loved ones. Perhaps it is truly our earthly lives that are abnormal………how we all should long for the normal!

    Ron & Delores Smith

  2. Cathy Kelley

    Dear Mark and the entire Presley family,
    There are so many stories I can tell about experiences with your dad. There seemed to be something that he would talk about while here at Eastfield. One thing that I loved about Whale was his knack for being spontaneous. There were many times, out of the blue, he would come out of his office and say “Hey, do you want to go to lunch?” Of course we would all go. The conversation was always interesting and we talked about everything from family to rocks. Those were some of the most enjoyable times. I know I have said this before but Whale will live on in the Science and PE division and all of Eastfield I am sure. I will do everything I can to keep his many extra projects, Boy Scout Camp, going here.
    I will continue to prayer for your family, especially your mom. Don’t worry about Helping with Eli, it will get better. I can’t say what you are feeling but I can remember how it was when my father passed away and I can tell you that you will start to remember only the good times and it will help make the days pass quicker.
    With all my thougths and prayers,

  3. Juliet Kauffman

    Dear Mark, and all,

    Thank you for your update on how each of you is taking care of your grief. It really is an individual process. God does not leave you alone in this experience. I know many who have shared that during the time of adjustment that they could feel angel wings wrapped around them to protect them. Others have felt Jesus walking with them as the days went by. Others found it difficult to remember day-to-day events, because their focus was elsewhere. I experienced a lot of that when my mother died. Later I realized that that was a simple way for God to keep me focused on what was truly important: the here and now. Many treasure dreams: reminders of our love for our loved one.

    When my mother passed away, I had done much reading on how other cultures view the process of grief. One suggestion was to set aside 49 days (7 weeks) where the focus for living was grief. (I believe that this came from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.) Any responsibilities during that time were for what was real and necessary. I knew that it was okay to ask for help or simply say, “no” or “later”. As a result, those I came in contact with resolutely honored my decision and knew that sooner than later I would be back. In the Celtic and Jewish traditions, grief is given a year and a day. In the Jewish tradition it is very important to honor the anniversary of the death. On the first anniversary of burial, the family returns to the grave for a Kaddish service. My dear Jewish friend found this very helpful for closure. The anticipation of the upcoming event and going back to the grave felt very healing for all who were there.

    Each of you may discover something so special and helpful for you. I think it’s important to remember that we have all been here before and any guides we have along the way are placed there for our benefit.

    Thinking of you daily, knowing you are loved by so many, trusting that you will find peace.

    Love, Juliet

    “…you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

    P.S. I find this music incredibly supportive, and helps me move forward:

  4. Araceli Rodriguez

    Thank you Mark for this blog, sharing your heart with us. Earth Science 1401 Geol. at Eastfield is not the same without him. He (your dad) is who made this class interesting, I did nto ever want to miss his class just to experience the passion he had for life! We will always remember him. Again Thanks! Love and prayers for you and your family. Araceli

  5. Becca Brockway

    I have been reading over the last couple of weeks and I am so thankful for you and your family. We went to the beach and one night while we were there I was thinking about you and Mel and your boys. I was thinking about all the things you had blogged and all the times that you mention that you had big shoes to fill. That you hoped that you could be the man your father was.. that you could be the father he was.. well I just wanted to say that you are all those things… that you and Mel have such a wonderful “small whale” family. That the big whale is sitting in heaven saying how proud of his family he is.. and how proud of you he is. And some how I thinkhe would saythat you already are all of the things that you “say” you want to be, because you came from him… you have everything in you that was in him… so dont worry about filling those shoes, just fill Champ and Elis shoes, so someday they be small whales that will be just like you… and in them you will see the big whale..
    We love you all so much!

  6. jonathan finch

    Mark hey I have not cried yet about your Dad and today was the day for me I sow Kathy Thompson at Church and she Reminded me that the last time I had been in the Rock she sow me give your Dad a great big bear Hug ha ha that broke me. I can not tell you how he will be missed in my life. he always had a way to get to the heart of ware I was at and not let me go until I had conceded in thought to what he know I know was right. I wish i could tell my story’s about your Dad but they have moor to with little moments in time ware he made my day or brought a glimpse of hope in to this life ha ha in the fall of last year i was committed to gone into the Army and I wanted your Dads approval ya not to smart really! instead I got the thing lest expected a old man almost in tears almost mad at me I ( cry saying this ) because I realized in that moment your father cared moor about me then any man not related to me had ever cared I wish I had taking moor time to get to know him and take up the many offers to go up to CCCC with me he gave to me almost on a weekly basses. I love your family so much and I will be praying for you and every one
    Jonathan D Finch

  7. Barbara Schneider

    It was so heartwarming to see each one of you this past weekend and love on each one of you.

    While the reason for bringing everyone together was something we never would have expected, wanted or even imagined, it was a blessing to see how all of you relied on one another during this incredibly challenging time. Each person took their turn in being “the strong one” and each person took their turn in having their “arms held up”. Your family was an excellent model for all of us to watch and learn from. Each one of us will experience loss in our lifetime. How graciously and honorably you all have walked this path together.

    Thank you so much for allowing us to walk along side and be a part of it with you. I pray that we all can grow from this experience with you. Your friendship means so much to our family. We love you each so dearly.

    Thank you for allowing me to have the special time to get to know Aunt Susie on the trek from the airport. What a delight she is. We both discovered how very much we have in common. I was just delighted to get to know her.

    As I think back on Friday and Saturday I am still marveled about the way all of you leaned on one another. What an incredible family you have. Each one of you has such neat and loving personalities and bits and pieces of your Dad woven into the fabric of who they are. Each child, grandchild and son or daughter in law all possess unique qualities of Ms. Anne and Dr. Mark which make them all so charming and special.

    The service was a memory to be cherished. I am so glad our entire family could join you in celebrating you sweet and precious Dad. It was a wonderful blend of laughter and tears to honor such an incredible, special and humble servant and friend. Each word that was spoken touched us all in ways we did not expect. I am changed…..I am touched…….I am a better person because of each one of you. Your friendship is a true blessing to me.

    Thanks for putting in the video of your Dad singing. I have said it before, your Dad had such a distinct and memorable voice. I can still hear it when I close my eyes and remember him. I can even hear him speak in German to me when I fondly think of him. So often when we would pass in the halls at church we would exchange a few words and pleasantries in German. It always warmed my heart to chit chat with him in the language I learned as a child. It connected us in a special way. I had always hoped to take a mission trip with him to Germany. I knew together we could have had such fun and really “gotten after it for Jesus!” There are so few folks who speak German and your Dad did it very well. Whether it was in German or in English every conversation with your Dad was worth burning on my heart. Each one was meaningful and full of love. You Dad would have had it no other way! What joyful memories for each one of us that could have that time with him…….that one on one time.

    We have and will continue to lift all of you up. Not only the immediate family but also the extended family as well.

    We will be here for you… the days, weeks and months pass on. We grieve for you as well as for all those who loved your Dad so…….but we rejoice because….”He has made all things new!”

    Your Dad knows perfection…..He is with Him right now. We too will join him when the time is right. That Hope is a pillar to hold up your homes, your lives and your hearts till our Sweet Savior allows us to know perfection too.

    May your spirits be lifted today… the only one who can fill that void. Thank you Lord for always being faithful to provide comfort and peace!

    We serve a great God!

    We love you.

    The Schneiders

  8. David

    We are still thinking of you all and praying for you . We are happy you made it home safely

  9. Lonnie and Millie Abbott


    Lonnie and I are and have been praying for all of your family. I talked with your mom this week before she left for Kentucky. She is strong, but I know that she will have some adjustments when she comes home. Of course, I knew she would teach on the first day. We are all so saddened by your dad’s death. We rejoice with you at his homecoming, but we know that the pain of his loss is still very new. We all have fond memories of his teaching the youth group and singing with the family and friends at Christmas in the house and around the neighborhood. He was such a positive and intelligent man and such a man of God. His legacy is in his children and grandchildren. Lonnie said that your tributes to him were incredible. I am sorry that I was out of town and missed the celebration of his life, but I am praying for you all and I promised your mom that I would be here for her and keep in close touch with her. I know that you will be a wonderful husband and father like Dr. Mark because you had such a wonderful role model. He is missed and always will be, but he remains with you all in your memories and the stories you can tell your children and grandchildren. I pray that the comfort of the Holy Spirit will continue to fill your heart with His peace. Millie

  10. Mike and Tina Phillips

    Thinking about you, Anne, and the family today and thought I’d read your blog, yet again. The service was indeed a wonderful tribute. Mike and I waited at the reception in various lines to hug each of you, but alas, we were not pushy enough and had to leave before all those hugs could be delivered. Everyone loves your family so much, the lines were inevitable. That, too speaks volumes. Please know that we continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. Manny Hines

    Anne, Mark and Family:

    What a legacy the Dr. Mark has given you. While my experiences with Mark, as is everyone’s, is different, I was truly blessed by him.

    I simply miss my friend!

    My opportunities to get to know Mark really began on our mission trip to South Korea. He never failed to talk and get to know someone. Yet, his getting to know someone always centered around them personally. He wanted to know them! At one part of the trip, really on our way home, he ran out of the local currency. I gave him some and he wrote me a check. What was so interesting about that was that he wanted to assure me that the check was good.

    Later, after being laid-off, he gave me my first job teaching at Eastfield. We seemed to get together at the right time for him and it certainly was the right time for me. I needed the work. He needed a teacher for a growing class. It was a position that I have continued to teach, on Friday Nights, and I have continued to teach it for him. I will do so again this fall, in part, to honor Mark.

    I still can hear him in my head, and I still miss my friend.

    My prayers are for you and the family. They are really about how Dr. Mark enable you, by example, to make a difference in people’s lives. And to continue with that example.
    God bless you in everyway. Peace, quietness, comfort, and in opportunities to get to tell about Dr. Mark.


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