Our Amazing Adventure

To my son

Sometimes, the dreaming, the planning, and the anticipation that build up a destination are all part of the excitement. Other journeys take unexpected turns, are filled with surprising delights, and have anxious moments. They lead us out of our comfort zones, seeing, touching, and exploring worlds new to us. Our journey so far, has been both.

Soon you will turn 27, and I feel as blessed as ever to be on this amazing adventure with you.

The day you were born, I held you in my arms and our path lay before us, unexpected and unclear. Of course, I didn’t know how far you would, or could, go. I doubted myself as the guide for this expedition, not realizing yet that you would be taking that lead role.

Where you began: born to a young, single mother in a small Midwest town. We were not alone, good friends near and family not-too-far. But many times, we felt alone. In those early days, I held you close. I tried to will my own strength to your tiny, beating heart that needed to be mended.

Recently we spoke at the United Nations building, you and I, and there wasn’t time to say all we wanted to say. We mentioned that always learning, dreaming, panicking, being creative, and being silly are part of our life, part of the human journey.

You were such a smiling baby, your eyes sparkled, your skin was porcelain. After your heart was mended, color came into your cheeks. You scooted, then crawled, then walked. In preschool, you signed, babbled, and played with children your age. You hugged them. They embraced you.

When it came time for kindergarten, the roadblocks began. You were locked out of experiencing school with your peers. We were led to dead ends we did not accept. Instead we chose another path, a school where you would be pushed to learn and accepted as an individual. We needed a place where you were both safe and celebrated.

You didn’t love school. Not everyone does. You liked music class though. Every year, in preparation for the Christmas program, you practiced the songs, day and night, in the car and in your room. You sang and we sang along. Then, when the program day came, you stood among the other children and…not a peep. Sometimes you moved your lips; sometimes not even that. We soon joked, “Too many people on stage. Just give him the mic and he’ll take the solo!”

I’m not sure if you ever showed your teachers your performing chops. I’m told you were quiet and cooperative at school. You often sat alone at lunch. You struggled with basic academic skills and your attention was short.  Still, you learned.

And I worked.

Then you grew up while I wasn’t looking.

But you were looking, always watching. You watch people. You see the adventures all around you. You see conflict, humor, joys, fears, and truth. You are a master at seeing the truth and boiling it down to its essence.

You began sharing your ideas and stories, complete with comedic timing, running gags, and the hero’s arch.

Together we built your first children’s book. Your story and plot twists, my fluffy words and formatting. We chose an illustrator. He listened and built from your vision. He brought his own talent and experience to the trip, and the adventure became colorful and alive.

The day the books arrived, you rambled to me in the car about the time your uncle picked you up from school and you went to play video games together. You spoke of the day your grandmother’s dog died. Your eyes glistened when we delivered books to the book store. I witnessed your life flashing before your eyes, everything in your life – good and bad, big and small, culminated at that moment.

You called the feeling “sad excited.” The birth of your book to the world. It does that.

Sometimes I feel like I know very little about what you expect out of life. Except that you always need to know what is on the list. Also, this big quest: You fully expect to produce Marcus the Musical and win a Tony Award.

Sometimes people wink at me, while you speak of your writing, your books, your speeches, and your interviews with people around the world. In many cases, I don’t know the adventures of their lives; I don’t know their history or their future, and I am certain they know none of yours. They do not immediately accept the reality of all of these truths from your life, your progress from unexpected to unlimited.

In preparing to speak at the United Nations, you wrote your introduction and conclusion. Then we added your cues throughout our message. A message of voice.

You appreciated having the microphone, speaking solo.

You said, “I want to help people.”

I asked, “Do people help you?”

You answered, “Yes. Everyone needs help.”

I choked up a little there, as I repeated, “Everyone needs help.”

Some men and women on our combined journey feel that helping others reach their potential, helping other humans with basic human needs, is too far out of their way. There is no room on their path, they think that ability and disability are parallel roads. This idea is hard for me to reconcile. None of us really can make the whole trek alone. Disability is part of the human adventure; it doesn’t only come at crossroads, but merges into our experiences throughout our lives.

I knew shortly after your birth our path was to go on unmapped in many ways. There have been anxious moments, there have been difficult and terrifying bumps along the way, and the mountain we climb is, even still, shrouded in a haze that keeps our plans to one step at a time.

Oh, but the heights you have scaled! Your book entertains and teaches. Navigating your ambitions is a challenge and a pleasure, a trek worth taking together. What’s next? Maybe a movie part, creating your next book, and your musical, of course.  Also, there are red carpet dates on your itinerary. For real.

Look at where you began. A tiny, innocent babe, like the hundreds of thousands born each day. Yet also different…and amazing.

I am proud of who you are.

I love that your ambition is not based on expectation and your adventure is as unique as your soul. I am proud to be on this journey with you. You teach me. You guide me. You drive me. You help me. And I…I hold your hand whenever you let me. I marvel at each next step. I beg the universe to keep the path open for many more.

I love that I am your mother.




  1. BT Long May 28, 2017 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    We are at the beach, so I can and will blame the salty sea for anything that appears to be tears flowing down my face.

    #stahp #dontstahp


    • Mardra May 28, 2017 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      Thanks Brian! Have Fun I love the pics from the beach! You all are awesome.

  2. RobynR May 28, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    My eyes are leaking. Love you, love him. You’re the perfect mother for your son.

    • Mardra May 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      We did luck out to have each other. Thanks Friend.

  3. kelly May 28, 2017 at 9:57 pm - Reply
  4. Marsha May 29, 2017 at 8:46 am - Reply

    I have always been amazed by both of you. You as the perfect mom for Marcus and Marcus as the talented, Can Do child, teenager, and adult he now is. I feel priviledged to have been able to witness so many of his achievements up close and personal. I thank God (and your Dad) I am able to be a part of your family. So, you Go get um!!! Ain’t no stopping either of you now!!

  5. Kristi Campbell May 29, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    You both are so wonderful. This was really touching. Happy soon-27, Marcus. Mardra, too. xoxoxo

    • Mardra May 29, 2017 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      With wonderful friends, too. Thanks! – Ms

  6. Gene Sikora May 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    I’m Marcus’ astonished grandpa. In your pursuits Mardra, always forward and upward, your boy is tagging along seeing what you see, hearing what you hear and feeling what you feel . . .he then creates stuff. I am forever amazed hearing news about Marcus, news that makes me ask the issuer to repeat themselves because what I hear is so grandiose. He wrote what? He was on stage where? He is gonna speak where!!
    Ambassador you say?
    Bless you Mardra, such a remarkable mom.

  7. Mary Rae May 31, 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    We have traveled that path .At first, we thought oh boy,but the trip has been interesting and fulfilling.We have met many great friends.

    • Mardra June 1, 2017 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Yes! Thank you for the note, too.

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