This post is a memory board for those who have lost a loved one to schizophrenia. Who was Marco?
Marco was a sensitive child from an early age. He spent his early years in a loving community of adults in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. Many adults there remember how fresh, appreciative and perceptive he was. He would patiently stand on the side of the road, asking for rides to his piano lessons; he did community work at elderly friends’ houses as part of his middle school’s service work; he gardened for money at friends’ homes, and they would remark to me about the wonderful conversations they had with him and how mature he was.
Neglected by me as a baby, he showed maturity beyond his years when at seven years old I became gravely ill with a brain tumor that almost took my life. I had brain surgery and when I returned home from the hospital after surgery, he was so sweet to me. He brought me breakfast in bed and helped me to the toilet, tasks a child that age would normally never have to do. Once he took a plastic Virgin Mary covered with glitter from his stepmom’s house and brought it to me in my home to make me feel better, bringing tears to my eyes.
He cared for me the best he could during my recovery and then again when he came to live with me during middle school. I was going to school at night in Sacramento to get my teaching credential then, and he would sometimes cook dinner for me for when I came home late. Always, I was very appreciative. He was a darling child with a handsome face, beautiful golden hair, hazel eyes and a full-lipped smile. Sometimes, I would invite an older Englishman over for a dinner at my mobile home on five acres of land. Marco and he would chat for hours like two adults about European history and wars and politics. That’s how much Marco knew about world history. He had a video game called “Age of Empires” that he played for hours that included help text with true historical descriptions of different characters, wars and governments.
Marco was always ready to start over when he moved between his father and my houses. He had a lot of drive and passion which he applied to everything he did. He loved soccer and strove to play on the best teams and to become one of the best players. His father was Argentinean and fueled his passion. He loved competition but mostly wanted to play for fun. When his father sent him to Argentina to try out for the 16+, 3rd team and he was only 15 and ½, he was accepted onto the team to practice but wasn’t allowed to play games with the team. He decided to return to California, because what he really wanted was to play.
Marco was passionate about helping people; he volunteered at a nursing home during his second year of high school and at a homeless shelter his first year of college. When he served on the Youth Conservation Corp the summer after graduating from high school, he worked with troubled kids to help them apply themselves not only to work, but to completing their homework for school. He was proud of that work and often wore the sweatshirt with the “Conservation Corp” logo on the back. When he started college, his dream was to become a social worker or child psychologist and later, a public administrator – always with the idea of helping people.
When he couldn’t start at university after completing high school, because he hadn’t taken the SAT, he applied himself to getting straight A’s in junior college and graduated Cum Lade with an honor ceremony in Sacramento. I still have the certificate and ribbon awarded him. The one quarter he was able to complete at UCLA, he also got straight A’s and a high score on the pre-law exam.
Marco was a loving son, brother, boyfriend and friend to many who commented to me at his memorial service that he always helped them in school and in life. Marco was completely bilingual in Spanish/English and had a tattoo Fighter written across his left shoulder. He was always a fighter and is free now; I’m sure he’s reading this post as I write it. I love you Marco; always and eternally. Mom and Suzanne