I know it’s Friday but I wrote this on Thursday, and thought this post would be a great way to restart my thankful Thursday series for the fall and winter.
This post is a bit of a departure from my typical thankful Thursday posts. I wanted to I write about a friend who passed away last weekend. The friend was my old boyfriend Mack, who I met when I was 19, and he’s the reason I moved from my home state of Michigan to California. Our four year relationship brought so many great things into my life!
As I write this, I’m flying to his funeral in Michigan and I’m watching the plane on the flight tracker follow almost the exact route we drove 19 years ago, which is stirring up emotions and fun memories!
Some of my favorite things about Mack were his smile, his laugh, his ticklishness, his lankiness, (he was 6’8” and very skinny!), his soft spoken personality, how he loved his nieces and nephews (when they were little, he’d play with them constantly), and the love he had for his family and his son.
Although he and I hadn’t stayed in touch as much as we could have, my life has been blessed tremendously by him and his family, especially his sister, who my husband and I are still friends with to this day. Here’s a little be more about our time together.
Mack and I had dated about a year when he was offered a basketball scholarship at a small bible college near Santa Cruz, CA. At the time, I was determined to keep him as my boyfriend and seriously thought we might get married someday. During the first year he was in California, I worked two jobs to pay off all my debt and save money for my move west. I was not going to let him moving get in the way of MY plan 🙂 I would later learn God had much different plans for my future.
On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in 1996, we set off on our drive to California. I had the trunk of my car packed to the max, the inside packed to the roof, and I only brought what could fit in my car. He wanted his car in California, so we drove separate the entire way.
Keep in mind, our drive was pre-cell phone or GPS era, so the entire route was determined using real, paper maps without a voice directing each turn! We use hand signals out of the window to notify each other if we needed to pull over for gas or a bathroom break. Our first day we made to Iowa; that night I recall the overwhelming feeling of leaving my family, everything familiar to me, and reality set in that my life would be very different. I remembering crying and wondering if I was doing the “right” thing! I bet he was wondering what he’d gotten himself into 🙂
Thankfully, our cross country drive was fairly uneventful, except for being pulled over twice for tailgating, once in Nebraska and another time in Utah. Luckily, no tickets were issued once the police learned we were traveling together. I arrived in California four days later with only my clothes, my car, and $1500 I had saved.
I remember Mack describing the town where Bethany was located as being in the redwoods, the town of Santa Cruz as “full of hippies”, and that it seemed time had stopped in the 70’s. This was surprising to here because my vision of California was much different! I absolutely despised the Santa Cruz area when I arrived. It was so different that the urban setting I’d been living in.
Everyone was either an artist, surfer, or skater who seemed artificially happy, territorial, and stand offish, all at the same time! The happy outer persona was annoying to a somewhat abrasive mid western girl. I was determined to move back home within two years. I’d laugh at all people who told me I’d get “stuck” here, I guess the were right cause almost 20 years later I’m still here!
During my first three months in California, his sister graciously allowed me to live rent free at their home while I looked for a job and found an apartment. At the time they lived in a gated, country club community so it was easy living; I could go to the pool, get a tan, and look at the palm trees everyday if I wanted! It was a fun time living with her family, especially spending time with her two sweet little girls, who at the time were two and three. Mack loved spending time with them, so we’d babysit or just hang out with them often.
We stayed together for two years after my arrival in California. In many ways, our relationship was very immature but I guess that’s to be expected when two people in their early twenties are dating! We also had a lot of fun times exploring our new town, a few fun road trips along the central coast and to Las Vegas, two trips to Hawaii (thanks to his sister), and I met good friends that I’ve kept ever since. Some of those friends introduced me to my husband, Trevor.
Our relationship was life changing for me in many ways. His family has an unwavering faith in God and they introduced me to Jesus. They were pivotal in supporting my desire to learn more about the bible and have been an excellent model of what having a real, authentic relationship with God looks like. I believe our meeting each other was a divine appointment by God; He knew a somewhat “boy crazy” girl like me needed a good distraction like Mack to get me to focus on the importance of putting God at the forefront of my life.
I will forever be grateful to his sister and her husband for welcoming me the minute I arrived in California. I never spent a holiday alone, even after Mack and I broke up. His family was more than excited when I met my husband Trevor. When we got engaged, his sister offered to host our wedding at their home. It was such a blessing to include people who I considered my second family to be such a big part of our special day.
Learning of Mack’s passing in a tragic car accident was a HUGE shock! I’ve cried many tears thinking about such a wonderful’s person’s life being cut way too short. It’s been a reminder for me to remember I should never take my life, or any one else in my life, for granted.
I encourage you to reach out to anyone who’s been on your heart lately. We never know when we will breath our last breath and it’s so important to live a life without regrets. Although Mack and I had only occasionally kept in contact during the past few year since he moved back to Michigan, I was happy to be Facebook friends and see what he was up to. I wish I’d taken the time to reach out and chat more often.
He leaves behind a son and his family has set up a education fund for him. If you’d like to contribute, click here.
I’m thankful you were part of my life. Rest in peacefully heaven, Mack Fuller
Here’s few pictures of fun memories.
October 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm
Beautiful post, Jen. It reminded me to reach out to my aunt who lost her son recently.
October 9, 2015 at 5:09 pm
Such a lovely story and part of your life. I Love You