Dear Friends Are Truly Gifts

This is a tribute blog for one of my dearest and oldest friends, Mark Mckenzie. I’ve known Mark since the third grade. Mark is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, his humor could light up a room. It is very rare to know someone your whole life and feel the same way about them as the day you met them.

Mark and I lived in the same neighborhood, Bret Harte, in San Rafael California. We were in Cub Scouts together, when I joined, his mother was our den mother. I remember making paper mache masks at their home like it was yesterday. I really felt like we were great artists creating wonderful, priceless art. That is the way Mark’s mom made us feel with her praise and adulation. That great part of her lives in Mark to this day. It is very rare to have any relationship that lasts for over 50 years but especially one that means so much.

Mark and I were in a couple plays in high school together. We still talk about the wonderful experience we shared being in the musical, “Oh, What a Lovely War.” To this day we still laugh about the muscial scenes during performance when Mark and I would be in the back of a crowd singing during the musical. Mark didn’t have much of a voice and so he would make frog noises during the large choir songs that would leave me literally crying, I was laughing so hard. Mark’s parents were in attendance as were mine and because of Mark’s timing and uncanny ability to capture a crowd our collective parents were howling with laughter.

During my college days Mark experienced the joys of Pioneer Week in Chico California arriving there on my Kawasaki motorcycle after a long drive from Marin County California. This is another memory that we laugh about to this day which entailed witnessing a girl attempting to drive through the girl’s dorm, a group of guys crashing a car into a poll and summarily destroying said car with their fists, and a myriad of other acts that shall be withheld due to a statute of limitations issue.

Mark and I went through the experience of meeting wonderful women we fell in love with and married, had children, then divorced, while sharing priceless conversations, dinners, and excursions on a boat driven by another third grade friend… John Greene. We were as close as brothers can be growing up in a much simpler time which has morphed into this much more complicated time.

Through-out most of our lives we chose the hospitality industry as our profession. Mark was an exceptional server at La Gare restaurant in Santa Rosa California. Both of us started our careers in the restaurant business at the Caprice restaurant (which is still open) in Tiburon California. We’ve both learned our profession, grown as people sharing very special life time experiences. Mark is a guy that will do anything for you while always finding the humor in situations others would find rather uncomfortable.

If one is judged by the amount of laughter they’ve brought into this world, Mark Mckenzie will stand at the front of the line bringing his heart warming smile to all of us that crave that wonderful human interaction.

Today Mark informed me that he has stage four lung cancer… and its spread through-out his entire body. This blog is a small tribute to the man that has brought so much joy to so many. For all of those that have heard this kind of news as it relates to friends and family… it tends to hit us like a sledge hammer to our hearts. All we can do is pray for a peaceful conclusion to a life that made this world a better place. I believe I am blessed to have known my dear friend, I will never forget… Mark Mckenzie.