|(Mark is back row all the way to the left)|
Mark was a friend of mine since I was young, and I remember him in my late teens and early 20's, but I started helping Jeff Schroeder coach baseball at HHS and Mark was an assistant. He had three boys that played and were pretty good players, respectful and hard workers. Mark was usually in a good mood and excited to be around and helping kids and was excited about anything that he talked about from baseball to the current political situation to his fath in Jesus Christ.
About seven months ago as I was preparing to embark on my mission trip to Indonesia with Athletes in Action, I sent letters out to people to ask for prayer and financial support (I hate doing that, but it is part of mission trips). I received a text message from his son Matt who told me to contact his father, Mark. I did and I went out and spoke to him and his wife for about 3 hours. We spoke about how I had grown in my faith and we talked about everything else that came up mostly centering on our faith.
Mark asked me to come to his church and to give my testimony both on my soon to be trip and dealing with the March 2nd tornado. I did and the people there were nice praying for me multiple times. Patti called me one night and said to come out to their house that the church had put some money together, so I obliged. They gave me about a quarter of what I needed for the trip all because of the love and opinion of Mark Pangburn.
When I got back from Indonesia, I heard Mark was not doing as well and I went to see him. He was tired of fighting and depressed. After talking about my trip and experiences, I felt that he was ready to fight again, at least for a little while. Then I was asked to attend Mark's church and give the presentation of my trip. I did and Matt gave the sermon and had his father close the service. Mark was the happiest, most content person I had ever been around at that moment and he took 10 minutes and said goodbye to everyone. He knew he was dying, but he was happy to be going to heaven. He wanted to spend his last few days making good memories for all those around who would be mourning his loss.
The last two weeks of his life, Mark Pangburn did what he loved to do. He spent the time with family and friends on the golf course and fishing. I received a text from Matt on Tuesday the 25th in which he said that his dad wouldn't be getting out anymore to stop by and see him. I couldn't until Thursday the 27th, but clearly he had few days left. I was there to tell Mark I loved him one last time and to help Patti, but how do you do that? Say "I know how you feel"? I didn't. So I just sat and talked to her about how inspiring her husband had been to me the last seven months. I told her that I had learned so much about my faith and about life just being around him during this time.
I got home Thursday night, just a few hours from my visit, spoke to my wife about Mark and then received a text from Matt that said "He is rejoicing now. No more suffering." And like that his battle with cancer was over and his trip home was complete.