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A Father's Life-Changing Odyssey
Beside a Son with Down Syndrome

How I Discovered His Disabilities Are His Unique Gifts

by Paul B Taylor


In the beginning

1970 - Paul and Susan - Wedding and rece


  • Early days
    I was born in the Midwest. After my father completed his medical training, we settled in the Seattle area where I lived until I was married. I come from a large family. Life as a young boy was enjoyable with many siblings and friends.
  • Education
    I completed my primary education and earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle. I put my schooling on hold for two years while I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany.
  • Marriage and Family
    Shortly after completing my mission, I met a beautiful young woman driving a bright yellow VW bug. She agreed to spend life with me. Susan and I are blessed with six children and fourteen grandchildren. Our life together took some twists and turns, which most of us end up experiencing at some point. Along the way, I spent seven years in the US Army, primarily as an officer in Military Intelligence. Following the Army, I earned an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the internationally recognized business school in Phoenix, Arizona..
  • Business Career
    I spent most of my business career engaged in commercial real estate investments working for various firms such as private equity, a pension fund, and an international bank. I traveled too frequently during my career assisting clients with a heavy domestic and international schedule, often traveling over 100 nights a year.
  • Why I write
    I have written extensively to family and close friends through the years, discussing the role challenges play in our lives and how we respond to them. Different parties have guided me through my periods of discouragement. I have attempted through my writing to assist others through similar trials. Along the way, several have encouraged me to publish to a larger audience. Mark and Me is my first attempt to do so.
  • Religious Upbringing
    I grew up in a religious home. Faith in God and Jesus Christ have always been fundamental attributes influencing my life. The certainty of life after our earthly sojourn is integral to my faith. This understanding provides a different perspective with which to view our current lives.
  • Our Experiences
    Our experiences here prepare us for this glorious future life. The dichotomy in this dynamic is that we must all face challenges to prepare ourselves better. It seems unfair that a loving Father would ask us to deal with trials in our lives as the means to prepare us to return to Him. But dealing with challenges is how we develop greater faith and more Christlike attributes. This life is a proving ground, the time to prepare to meet God again.
  • Life is a Mosaic
    I have reached the point where life should be viewed as a mosaic and not the summation of unrelated individual good and bad experiences, as I thought earlier in my life. Focusing on a specific period can highlight the disappointment or discouragement of that time. But, doing so portrays an inaccurate, incomplete picture because it is not an isolated period; it is one in an expanded mosaic. Viewing life as a mosaic permits us to see patterns and connections in seemingly unrelated individual tiles that provide a far different image of who we are when put in place. As we position each piece on our board, a more complete, continually developing likeness emerges as to who we are becoming. Frequently, our most significant periods of hardship, uncertainty, and doubts are preparatory steps to a much fuller and more blessed future. To fully assess our life, we must look at the whole. It is a continuous struggle to maintain a perspective that the difficulties of this life are building blocks for a more sublime one to follow.
  • Which List is More Important?
    Many years ago, I had an experience that taught me how critical perspective is and that our viewing prism needs to expand beyond the immediate circumstances in front of us. I felt sorry for myself and made a list of difficulties in my life over several previous years as evidence that I had a right to feel overwhelmed. This list included the death of several family members, including a daughter, a couple of job losses, and a diagnosis of MS. Somehow, I felt prompted to make another list, to record the good things in my life. The results of the two lists surprised me. The second quickly grew twice as long, at which point I stopped to compare the two. The comparison reminded me not to be overcome by my challenges but to push forward because I was more blessed than I realized.
  • Help See the Forest for the Trees
    Most of us have heard the adage, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” I have been fortunate to have others assist me in seeing the expanded forest in front of me when I could not see it clearly myself. I write to help others see the more extensive forest before them when it is difficult to do it themselves. My son has taught me many lessons about the gifts of those with disabilities. He demonstrates qualities we can all better incorporate into our daily interactions. How different life would be with Mark’s attributes more evident across society. Beyond these beautiful qualities about Mark, there is even one greater. Mark teaches me what I (we) must become to enjoy the next life. As cited in the book, Mark’s barber said, “Mark is where God is trying to bring the rest of us.”


Meet Mark
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Mark through the years

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Mark as an infant

Mark as an infant

Mark as an infant

Mark as an infant

Mark as a youth

Mark as a youth

Mark as a youth

Mark as a youth

Mark as a youth

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Mark as a teenager

Mark as an adult

A couple of funny things our boys remember: Mark asking them if they shaved and one time supposedly wanting to order Papa John’s pizza by dialing 911 . . . He and Danny taught me that it was important to brush your tongue as well as your teeth.

-A family friend about Mark’s early years

A Parent's Vision

We developed a mission statement for Mark at the beginning of our attempts to integrate Mark into the regular classroom setting and shared it with teachers, administrators, aides, and others. We wanted them to understand our goals and the underlying principles of our advocacy, hoping they would adopt the approach and spirit we were sharing with them.

Mission Statement

As parents and guardians for Mark, the following are inherent aspects of our advocacy on his behalf.

Mark is a special child entrusted to us by a loving God to bless our lives and those around him. He has unique needs but also unique gifts. To honor that trust and responsibility we have for him, we pledge that until the day he returns home to his Heavenly Father, we will seek out those, whether young or old:

  • who respect him as a person

  • who desire the best for him

  • who perceive within him the capacity to enlarge

  • who realize that he too can contribute

  • who recognize his weaknesses but have the gift to teach him, such that his weaknesses become strengths


Mark will become a meaningful member of society, contributing in ways that only he can, which gift will be recognized by those who have the eyes to see.

Teacher Comments

As a primary teacher with Mark in my classroom, I have always felt that we learned as much from Mark as he learned from us. I include teachers, students, and administrators in that group. 

We had many meetings to discuss Mark and his progress. I appreciated your expectations for Mark, as it helped me set the tone for the classroom and others.

What's Coming
Image by Fahrul Razi

# 1

Homeward Bound


# 3

Peace My Child
Thy Voice Was Heard



Two Projects Coming in 2023​

  • The Leaf That Fell in Summer (Late Summer)

  • Beyond the Grave - Lessons from Mark's Grandpa (Fall)

My Writing - Two Areas of Focus


We all face challenges in our lives. I write about my challenges and how I deal with them, sometimes more successfully than others. Outside influences assist me in this journey including family, friends, and faith all playing critical roles in helping me see the forest for the trees. Frequently we can assist others dealing with some of the same issues we confront because they are too close to their own trees while we are not, and thus we are in a position to help them. All need periodic assistance to transcend the trials of this life and enhance our personal relationships.


The second area deals with life after this one. My belief in another life is the primary factor shaping my outlook on what this temporal existence is and should be. This life is a preparatory state. The dilemma we all must resolve during our lives is why hardships and challenges are how we develop the attributes the next life requires.


The Leaf that Fell in Summer is a collection of three lengthier poems addressing formidable challenges in our lives.

  1.  Written to family friends caring for a terminally ill young daughter who soon passed. Paul wrote it from the perspective of a parent holding the child in her last few days.

  2. Reflects Paul’s feelings upon the death of an adult daughter in her mid-20s who died from a brain tumor.

  3. This poem deals with Paul's struggles during a period of taxing temporal circumstances and how h eventually came out of the darkness.


# 2

The Leaf that
Fell in Summer

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Beyond the Grave -
Lessons from
Mark's Grandpa

The second work coming later in 2023 is titled Beyond the Grave - Lessons from Mark's Grandpa. Mark’s grandfather was a psychiatrist and a very spiritual man.  Grandpa Taylor combined knowledge from his profession and overlayed that with an umbrella of faith. The result provided unique insights into what motivates us, what inhibits us, and how we deal with this life’s difficulties and unfair aspects. 



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mark and his family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mark and Me references several experiences while he was at church. Additionally the book includes brief references to doctrinal issues. This section provides additional information on several subjects related to the book by accessing the church's various on-line sites.

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Information on Down Syndrome

Answers to common questions regarding Down syndrome provided by the referenced organizations and the CDC.



Organizations Supporting Down Syndrome

There are numerous organizations at all levels from local to international that support Down syndrome research, education, and support. There are some of the largest national and international organizations.

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Developmental Disabilities

Developmental disabilities (DD) are a broad category of physical and cognitive impairments. Though short term in some cases, most disabilities are lifelong conditions. Numerous organizations exist to focus on researching and supporting disabilities in general, or on a specific condition. Each of these can benefit from contributions.



Other Authors

Several people have influenced my writing and provided encouragement in the recent years to reach this point. A few of them are independent authors and I include information about them here. Their writings address different subject matter and audiences, but they nevertheless have been a significant influence on me.

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 I remember Mark giving that last hug to Dad’s casket. Everyone talks these days about being authentic. I don’t know if there is anyone out there as truly authentic as Mark!

- An aunt on attending her father’s funeral (Mark’s grandfather)


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