Reporting Bill Hudson
ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (WCCO) – Sitting in a chair in his living room, Mark Weber talks about the words and letters he always intended to write to future grandchildren. Now, at the age of 41, he is contemplating his family’s life without him.
Painfully, Weber explains, “so now instead of thinking about grandkids, I’m thinking about my own kids, I mean, the irony,”
Nothing brings more clarity to life than impending death. The sad reality for the recently retired Lt. Col. Weber is that he will soon leave his wife without a husband and his three boys without a dad.
Weber fights back tears as he adds, “when I cry, I don’t think of what’s going to happen to me, or where I’m going — I think about how unfair it is to them.”
Cancer has a way of doing that, yet what it can’t steal is Weber’s wit and wisdom, his courage and intellect.
In the face of hardship he’s penned his fatherly stories onto paper. Words that will give his boys — Matthew, Joshua and Noah — the special insight into what the life-and-death battle taught him.
“Figuring out the courage, the constant search for wisdom to get through it all, as honestly as you can, that’s what I want for my boys,” Weber explains.
The career soldier spent the past 23 years in the military. In Iraq he was special liaison to Gen. Babakir Zibari, Chief of Iraqi Defense forces. Weber made such an impression with the Pentagon that he was chosen to do the same in Afghanistan in 2010. But while preparing for the deployment, a physical examination revealed the first signs of trouble. Weber was soon diagnosed with intestinal cancer.
Weber says he actually began journaling to his three boys before they were even born. The cancer diagnosis became the genesis for the book – “Tell My Sons.”
It’s his attempt to be there for them long after he’s gone.
“I didn’t want them to have the same questions I had as a young kid when my parents and grandparents were unwilling or unable to provide details,” Weber said.
Therein lies the message to all parents – that it’s never too early to have honest and open discussions with your children, to tell them what’s important in life and how to live it with passion.
Weber was on the military’s fast track. Joint Chief’s Chairman, General Martin Dempsey, even attended Weber’s recent retirement event in Rosemount.
But as Weber points out with humility, his book wasn’t written as a way to impress, but rather, as a way to inspire.
Though faced with the reality of a painful cancer, Weber smiles and adds, “the stories I came across in my life, I’m either the unluckiest or luckiest person. It just depends on your attitude in life. I think I’m the luckiest, even with the cancer.”
Mark and his wife, Kristin, are donating half of the proceeds of “Tell My Sons” to help others overcome hardships and grief, so they too can lead rich, productive and loving lives.
The book will be available in early December and pre-orders are now being taken.
For more information on Mark’s battle and his book visit www.tellmysons.com.