The Blue Chairs
Sometime around 2014, a friend texted me a screenshot and said “You’re on Google Earth!” You can see how our faces and license plate were blurred, and even the sign that says “Bump” on the sidewalk. But it’s us, all right, sitting outside like we always did, in our famous blue chairs, enjoying a nice morning or afternoon.Even before the blue chairs, Mark sitting out in the driveway was a common sight. In 2013, he decided to start feeding a family of stray kittens by tossing handfuls of dry cat food into the driveway.
I had read that it was good for cancer patients to have pets or plants to take care of, and though we had our dog Skippy and our cat Scout, I decided not to protest his new “cause”. Suffice it to say that pretty soon we had so many stray cats eating in our driveway that it really could be a post in itself.But back to the blue chairs. Mark got them at a yard sale down the street, and much like the “silver pickup” (you’ve seen the original one if you’ve read “Not Really Silver”), they have become a sort of “icon” in our neighborhood. Neighbors still reminisce about stopping to talk to Mark when they walked by as he was out in his blue chair. To be accurate, he would talk to anybody that walked by, whether he knew them or not.
Top: With Carlos and Christy in the blue chairs. Bottom: Enjoying Chick-Fil-A frosted lemonade and the view from my blue chair today. As many of you know, April 13 marks the third year anniversary of Mark’s passing, so it’s time for me to post some photos so those who knew him can re-live some fun memories, and those who never knew him can get a feel for the person he was.
A Bit of Background Information
Mark was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in June of 2011, and Stanford said he was not a candidate for surgery. He began chemo in July of 2011, and continued chemo treatments for a total of four and a half years. This amazed all his doctors, who said that less than one percent of pancreatic cancer patients experience these results. We always knew God was in control, and regularly prayed that the doctors would know what to do and what not to do.
Even in the doctor’s office his sense of humor was evident. On the day he started losing his hair, he graciously offered to make a mustache for Dr. Rao, who responded genially that his wife had forbidden him to wear any type of facial hair. Once he got back to the chemo clinic he offered to make the nurses hair extensions.
At one point a friend of ours who was also in chemo was on the same schedule as Mark, but at a different cancer center. We texted them pictures to show how many days remained until their chemo day. The one on the top right is called “The Unknown Chemo Patient.”
Carlos and Kate got married in April of 2015, and it was one of the highlights of the year for Mark to serve as father of the groom. One of my favorite pictures, at the bottom right, is what has been lovingly named the “perfect Mark Tracy photo bomb.”
During his illness, Mark continued to be part of our Sunday school skit and puppet class. Memories include studying lines, perfecting that “spiritual look”, and an in-store demonstration of how a pot holder could be made into a puppet.
And, Some Older Memories
“I’ll take what you’ve instilled in me;
I’ll try to be all I can be
And walk the path that you have left behind.”
From “I Sure Miss You” lyrics by Jason Crabb