Yesterday, approximately a week after he entered hospital due to a stroke, our friend Mark Roberts died. This came as a big surprise, for while we expected he had a long road of recovery ahead, we believed he was stable.

Mark was a tall, broad shouldered man which earned him the moniker “Big Mark”. He loved to talk (and talk and talk). We often teased him about how few dishes he actually got done at our Monday Drop-In because he was too busy chatting, pausing only briefly to say, “okay, anyway…” before launching in again. One key topic of conversation for Mark was music. He would often quiz me about the music of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, while commenting on current artists being played on the radio. He played the guitar and sang with gusto.

Mark had a spirit of generosity. Though he had very little, Mark was quick to share. He would regularly come to our Thrift Store Drop-In to distribute granola bars and pudding cups and whatever else he had gathered. He once proudly gave me a box of powdered lemon filling to make a lemon meringue pie, requiring only that I tell him about the result and how much Cate enjoyed it- he was a big fan of my daughter.

I’m sad that Mark will not be joining us at The Dale’s annual fall retreat up north. He intended to come last year, but couldn’t bear to leave his beloved cats behind. After hearing about all the fun we had, Mark promised that this time he would find somebody to care for his feline friends. He couldn’t wait to play his guitar around the campfire. I know that to honour him we’ll sing some of his favourites this September.

When Mark arrived at the hospital this past week he didn’t have any ID and couldn’t communicate. Joanna and I were able to see him a couple of times and were working with the hospital to locate family. Just yesterday I followed what felt like a flimsy lead, only to discover how to connect with Mark’s mother. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I’d found her and so relieved that she could speak with Mark’s medical team. It was with shock and dismay that I got a message from her that afternoon: Mark was gone. My heartfelt sympathies go out to her and the rest of Mark’s family. She asked me to share this news.

Mark was very much a part of The Dale community. I can’t imagine not having him in the kitchen on a Monday, or hearing him strum a guitar, or seeing him stroll down Queen Street. I know many, many people will miss him. And I am one of them.

Rest well friend.

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