This is a tribute to my brother, Mark Smith. The only thing different about this
tribute is the fact we do not have proof that he is dead. My brother disappeared in
the Spring of 1978, close to his 18th birthday. Mark was a wayward boy, easily
influenced, always wanting to be part of the crowd, whether it was the in-crowd or the
outcasts. It was usually the misfits and the delinquents he hung around with.
Mark got into drugs at a very early age. By the time of his disappearance, he was
into the heavy stuff, snorting, smoking, and shooting up anything he could get his hands
on. The last time anyone ever saw him was that spring. He was in Oregon.
He was wanting to visit our grandmother, who lived in Bakersfield, California. And
so he decided to hitch-hike there and was picked up by a van full of hippies. What
happened after that is anybody's guess because he never showed up at Grandma's
house. The reason I feel that he is dead is that he always sent postcards of any !
new place he hitch hiked into, he always sent birthday cards, Christmas cards, Mother Day
cards, etc. Months went by with no word from him. We knew something was
wrong, but there was no way (at that time) to find out what became of Mark. My
oldest brother, Douglas, has started a missing person report through the Salvation Army,
but I know they won't find him. When a loved one dies a terrible death far away, you
just instinctively know. I know deep in my heart that my brother is finally at
peace, whether there is a death certificate saying so or not. I was just a young
teenager when he left home. I really don't remember much about him anymore.
The brightest memory I have (one of the only memories I have) is when he carried me home
one day from the swimming pool after I fell off the diving board and cut up the bottoms of
both feet and hurt my leg pretty badly. He was not much bigger than me. I was
11 and he was 14. It was mid-summer, very hot, when the asphalt melted!
and heat waves came up off the sidewalks. He carried me the four blocks home
barefoot. He said he did it just because. I will never forget that unselfish
act. It is embedded within my heart deeper than words chisled into granite.
The darkest memory I have is about the time we got into a fight (one of those sibling
fights that are very heated but lasts only a couple minutes). I was 7 and he was
10. He teased me, so I hit him. He hit me back, so I jumped on his back and
bit a chunk out of his shoulder. He bit me back and we scrabbled a bit more until
Mom broke us up. I have always felt bad about that even though I still sport the
scar of his teeth on my hand. I have carried the burden of never telling Mark that I
was sorry for biting him. It's silly since it happened so long ago and I was such a
small child, but it was the most intense fight we ever had and it was traumatic for
me. This tribute is my way of purging myself of guilt I have carried most of my
he guilt I have when at first I thought he went away because of me, because I was so mean
and bratty around him (actually I was being a typical little sister though at the time I
didn't realize it), then when I thought he just didn't love us anymore. One day my
heart told me that he was no longer on this earth. Then I started feeling guilty
because I never told him that I loved him. Never. I know now that his
lifestyle was what took him away from us forever, that drugs became his family, his best
friend, his love, and his life, and that nothing else mattered except his next fix.
And I know now that deep down he knew I loved him. Mark, I wish you were still
around. I think about you once in a while. I wish that you could see that I
grew out of being a little bratty kid into a pretty good wife and mother. Wesley
looks alot like you. In fact, his baby pictures even fooled Mom once. Tracy
(my middle brother) once said before Wesley was born, "Wouldn't it be neat if your!
baby was a reincarnation of Mark?" If he is, I hope you choose a different,
better, healthier path in life this time around, taking advantage of the love and support
your family has always freely given. And this time I'll be the one to carry you home
on the hot pavement when you hurt your foot and couldn't walk. Just because.
Your little sister, Pam