Christmas is a time for celebration, reflection, and honoring the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time for lights and decorations as reminders of the many blessings we have received.

Each year, Marcia devotes untold hours with the most beautiful Christmas creations in our home. This is a picture of one end of our living/dining room. Photos do not do it justice, really. The creation you see is spectacular. To see it is uplifting in this time of real darkness in our country.

And below you see a photo of what I call our “Angel Corner”. It is an antique marble top table in our foyer. All who enter will see it and we both pass by it every time we walk from our bedroom wing to the main rooms of our home. This table display and another in the foyer are, too, reminders of Christmas and the spiritual time it really is. Angels watch over us.

Marcia and I are so grateful for each other. We are, indeed, soul mates. Our walk together on this earth now as husband and wife has now been more than 37 years, but we really found each other close to a half century ago.

We wish you all a very Happy Christmas. We wish you many, many Blessings in the days that come. We ask that you pray for our country, the United States of America, as we all pass through these very, very dark days ahead.


Mark’s birthday is today, December 9th. Today he would have been 57 years old. Mark died much too early on March 18th, 2023. We can only trust this was time for him to end his path on earth.

Mark lead a complicated life. At birth, he almost died from a blood issue due to antibodies from his mother attacking his blood cells. As it would have it, I was not able to donate blood for him due to an incompatible antigen in my blood. A fireman stepped in and volunteered blood that saved Mark’s life.

Mark was the youngest and fourth in the line of children in the family. He struggled at school early on due to what was much later diagnosed as dyslexia, maybe triggered by his blood issue at birth. No one really knows for sure. He overcame this challenge and graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in retail management; quite an accomplishment.

After college, he first worked for Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company, a then partly family owned business. Later he became the sales manager for a floral container manufacturer. Finally, Mark became interested in real estate, first as a broker. Within a few years, he made the decision he wanted to pursue becoming a real estate appraiser. This required more academic study and being mentored by a licensed appraiser for at least two years. He was successful in navigating all of this.

In 2000, he, with his father by his side, opened a new business: Blacklidge Appraisals. He continued this business to the time of his death. Blacklidge Appraisals was very successful and became one of the dominate appraisal companies in the area market.

Marked loved the fast lane. Early in his life this was through bicycle racing. Then came a trail motorcycle…. a time in a race car training sponsored by his grandfather Richard Blacklidge….. and finally racing of jet skis. This racing was with a close friend who, together, traveled the loop of jet ski competitions. Mark and his friend were both good at racing.

His “cottage” at Lake Freeman allowed Mark to continue with the water sports. He loved time there particularly with his two daughters as they grew up. His daughters were his joy. Mark loved life generally and enjoyed time with friends and family.

I must say something though about Mark’s issues with alcohol. This challenge started really as early as high school. He was never able to conquer this addiction. It remained his nemesis and was the source of many heartaches for him and his family, immediate and extended. Hopefully, lessons can be and were learned from his struggles.

I write this as Mark’s father. I loved and love him deeply. We had many, many good times over the years from the time he was born. I am guessing I spent more time with him over his lifetime than with any of my other three children. We were close. I really miss the good times and I miss just the presence of Mark in this life.