Cabbage Island, 2014

This whole week has been filled with family, friends and food. Mark and I are so blessed to have such a large family and so many friends. Today brought the three Tuominen sisters (childhood friends), brothers Eric, Marks godson, and Tim whom Mark has known since they were babies. Their parents Paul and Nancy skyped in from the Bahamas.  Roger and Annette, who only two weeks ago came for a visit when life was normal, had gone south for a week out of email range and returned Friday night to find our shared world changed. 


Mark has shared so many adventures with Roger and Paul. Every year for at least the last 15 included a summer adventure or two. Earlier expeditions included Kayak trips down a wes tcoast fjord to the open ocean and along the coast somewhere for a week or two of exploring. Then came water taxis to get us to the remote coasts faster. Then came water taxis to a base camp and kayak day trips. As we aged, camping gave way to renting remote camping resorts or cabins for base camp. Lately the guys have taken a motor boat to explore islands. All these expeditions led to some of Marks best outdoor scenes. 

Friends are sending letters filled with warm memories of adventures, Marks dinners or Marks holiday and travel tips. Thora wrote a series of Mark memories. 
I think it sad that for people who aren’t family or very close friends, we often only get to know the real essence of a person at either an award ceremony or at a memorial for them but all these phone calls visits, emails and letters mean a lot to Mark and he is getting to hear how others see his own essence. 

How lucky we are that we have a little time to share memories, express appreciation and say goodbye to Mark.  Leave your message to Mark here and I will read it to him.

13 thoughts on “Memories

  1. Dag and I just had lunch and talked continuously about Mark. How's he's always managed to get so much done yet never seemed stressed (I once asked you how you did that Mark, and you seemed puzzled by the questions as in, what is there to be stressed about?) For example – the many fabulous meals at your place when we lived on Protection. We arrive, Mark is cooking but stops to sit and share a drink (putting a very large scotch in Dag's hand, and knowing mine is a cold white wine), the smells are lovely, he gets up now and then to check on the food but there is no panic, just a relaxed flow until the lovely dishes are put on the table. Dag remembered Mark dropping Liz off at the college, then going back to get her later and in between he's installed a large new window in the house. Not a problem. We talked about the first time we met Mark when he turned up to one of our parties bearing an enormous plate of perfectly cooked prawns, plus some lovely wines. There have been many parties since then, and it's always been the same, Always generous, always easy, always so helpful. You are so loved and appreciated by so many. xxxx


  2. We share very similar memories, Maria, especially the generous glass of Scotch Mark could easily talk us into before dinner. I also remember him stopping by to fix my bike brake for me years ago because I didn't know how and life on Protection, for me at least, requires a working bike. Always so generous with your many skills, Mark. As when you showed up with a frameable enlargement of a fabulous photo I'd admired of a pile of junk collected on an island junk-away day. Only Mark could have captured beauty in that.Paul and I have a sharp memory of a long-ago discussion in which Mark asserted that Liz's dad, Gary, was the most competent man he'd ever known, able to deal with almost any situation, a wealth of skills and intelligence at the ready. Paul and I have commented on this several times in the ensuing years, noting that for us, Mark would probably be the contender for title of Most Competent Man We Know. Plus the best man for finding and clinching a bargain! But that's a whole other post!


  3. Mark, Do you remember the New Year's Eve when you and Liz were oh so easily persuaded to kayak to Snake Island with me and Dag? I recall it being a very dark night, a not so friendly weather and sea conditions night, but off we went. We landed on Snake's twin beach, and stood looking back to the lights of Nanaimo. I can't remember what we toasted the New Year with – a dram of something or other I'm sure. Then we paddled back, and arriving at the shores of Protection saw lights at Carol and Mike's house. They were away but Alison and Alex were there. They cheerfully greeted the four damp paddlers – first footers! – standing at the door in that strange kayaking gear, skirts and boots and sou'westers. In we piled for a couple of hours (at least!) of cheer and laughter. It's a treasured memory. And it sums one of the many things I've always loved about you (and Liz): you're always up for an adventure, with never a moment's hesitation. I hope such memories can help buoy you right now. I can't remember who said that the greatest thing, the most important thing in life is to love and be loved. In that regard you have lived a great life and continue to do so. xxxx.


  4. I am sending love to you, my dear Flickr friend, my early cheerleader and hero – with your beautiful, beautiful eyes and huge heart, always on an adventure somewhere, full of spontaneity and curiosity, photographer extraordinaire. You are in my heart. Gentle hugs and love and thank you for your kindnesses and joyful life. xoxoxo Deborah Lattimore


  5. Hi Mark,Just heard the sad news from Arnie. I am sure there must be some comfort knowing that you are in the thoughts of so many friends. I will let the boys from Infinity days know your situation. If I can be of help please let me know.Fare thee well. John ( MacMillan)


  6. The Raccoon the Heron and the Puffin,Even as far back as the Brown Bag Alternative days in the late 70's an image I can still see in my minds eye is you Mark with your ever present camera hanging around your neck.Other chance meetings off of P.I. Adrianne and I rowing you and Liz paddling, at Village Medical Project fundraisers, the epic gatherings in the Jorgy's backyard, your camera always at the ready.Other than the odd days of seeing your photos in the Free Press I did not have the opportunity to admire your work in depth till the advent of Flickr and your blog posts.Since the posting of Storm, Adrianne and I have spent hours revisiting and looking through your amazing legacy of art, passion and creativity. These images will endure forever.Your images inspire and have changed lives…we know this for a fact! Your generous contributions to KIDS fundraisers these past years; photos of the raccoon, the heron and the puffin have helped to feed, shelter, educate, comfort and cure many children. Only days ago your support contributed to putting walls around and roofs over the heads of several more very needy and homeless young students. We are very heartened to hear of the web of love and support that surrounds you Mark. Our hearts and thoughts are with you all.With thanks and humble appreciation from CambodiaRick and Adrianne


  7. This morning as I took Victor for his first outing of the day I was looking at the little wooden bench you helped Mike build, Mark, and remembering how proud he was of it. \”This is the best and most solid thing I have ever made,\” he would say happily, \”and Mark Kaarremaa showed me how to do it.\” It may seem a small achievement compared to your many great ones, but it sure gave him pleasure. And we were always greatful for your help with so many things during our island years — from helping us unload the moving van through to the kitchen renovations with the strips in the ceiling that made it look like a cheerful sun umbrella. As to the Most Competent Man We Know, we always left a letter for our many housesitters and visitors about The Way of Life at Wayside, and in it we had a list of Useful Numbers which included the Fire Department, the Dinghy Dock, our immediate neighbours, our travel contacts, etc., etc., and at the bottom of the list it said \”For general information about anything you need to know, the most knowledgeable person is Mark Kaarremaa.\” The support and help you give others is boundless. Thanks, Mark. Love, Carol


  8. Hi Mark and Liz, I'm holding you both in my heart as you walk this terrible journey. Things I've been thinking – if one picture is worth a thousand words then you have painted a huge library. Your pictures have awed, delighted, educated, and surprised me 🙂 I just love seeing another one pop up on FB! I join the huge number of people enriched by your passion who are so sad to hear of your illness. Godspeed Mark


  9. Mark and I worked together at the Daily Free Press for 3.5 years. When I had just started working there, I was sent to an event and saw this weird apparition in a pirate costume, who seemed really into the role. Shocked and awed, I asked Mark who that person was, and he told me he was the mayor of Nanaimo. I'll never forget that, or you Mark. We had some challenging assignments, didn't we, I remember when we got assigned to attend a Grade 1 \”potlatch,\” in a school gym. The pentultimate professional, you came back with great pictures, to this day I don't know how you did it. After I left Nanaimo, you kept it touch and I enjoyed our lunches and coffees in Victoria and hearing what you were up to. You're a special man who I felt privileged to work with, a loving husband and father and friend. Sending you lots of loving, healing energy at this time. You're loved and respected by many Mark. Big hugs to you and Liz and your families….


  10. Mark, many thanks for your abiding interest in the lives of so many others. Yours is a monumental legacy. And thanks for showing by your example how to meet adversity and deal with it on our own terms.Gord Hunter


  11. I recall meeting Mark for the first time on assignment at Bowen Park in the late 70’s… He was working for the Nanaimo Free Press and I for the Nanaimo Times. Each of us sizing the other up from across the room. His demeanor and well worn Nikon F spoke to his experience and professionalism. I was impressed.Even though we worked for competing newspapers we grew to be close friends. I was the new guy in town and Mark took it upon himself to include me and make me feel welcome. As photographers we shared so many adventures. Two spring to mind.Mark and I decided that we should take it upon ourselves to cover the visit of Pope Paul II to Abbotsford in 1984. We set about getting our press passes and off we went. Here we were, two small town photogs rubbing shoulders with all of those high flying hot shot photographers from around the world with upteen cameras and lenses a meter long. A couple of them, taking pity on us let Mark and I attach our cameras to their monster lenses in order to get a better shot. While Mark and I may have had lens envy it was the other photographers, famished and thirsty after waiting hours for the Pope, whose mouths fell open in disbelief when they saw us unwrap sandwiches and break open our drinks. “Where did you get the sandwiches????” We just looked up “Our wives made them for us.” Some times being local has its advantages. Then there was the time we were both covering an automobile accident in Departure Bay. Turns out a guy had let his girlfriend drive his pride and joy – a beautifully restored 56 Chevy as I recall – and she had crashed it into a telephone booth. Well when we got there the guy was in a purple rage – yelling and jumping up and down like a mad man on the roof of his car. He had completely lost it. I looked at Mark – Mark looked at me – not a word was said but we both knew it would not be in our best interest to take that photo. When my wife Janet moved over to Vancouver to attend UBC Mark and Liz would invite me over to their cozy home on Machleary and saw to it that I was well fed in her absence. Nobody, but nobody, can cook a pork roast like Mark. Even though Janet and I moved away almost thirty years ago every trip back to the Island brought with it another wonderful visit with Mark and Liz on Protection Island.So many memories of those times with Mark. Fires, automobile accidents, the infamous night of the Ambuscade, Bathtub races, So You Think You are Tough fights, beer and darts at Pipers Pub, the infamous Machine Gun Kitty episode (ask Liz) and the innumerable pictures of Nanaimo Mayor Frank Ney. Frank always remembered Mark’s name but never mine. Those were the days. I miss those days and I am going to miss Mark. This is the Mark we all love, a true Bon Vivant – such a privilege to be included in his life and amongst his friends. We are all the richer for it. Wayne Hiebert


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