Friday, March 31, 2017

Four year old Layne

4 year old Layne came over with her moms the other night

when Layne went to the bathroom
she came out
asking about our sea shells
and sea glass
that we keep in bowls by the sink
she wanted to know where they all came from

Christine told her that I was a writer
but my hands didn't work
she told her mom that Uncle Marky Moose
could tell her the stories
and she would hand write them for him

she told me that she loved me

Monday, March 27, 2017


Friday morning
another sleepless night
I wake up
Jackie is out of bed
she is taking pictures
of a skinny, yellow crescent moon
rising over Ramshorn Peak
it’s her favorite moon

I can’t see it from where I lie
on my back at the head of the bed
she really wants me to see it
I think at first it’s too much trouble
but we go for it

Jackie lifts me onto the side of the bed
she puts the gait belt on me
drags me to the foot of the bed
flings my legs around
onto a pillow she has placed
over the foot board

she opens all the blinds
I lean back
look behind my shoulder
Jackie holds me up
keeping me from falling over

I glimpse through the tall chokecherry tree
out our bedroom window
the golden crescent moon rising over the mountains
as the sun rises behind it
the moon turns white
and fades into the blue sky

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Busy Weekend

It's been a busy weekend. 
My brother Ben arrived on Thursday and left this morning. 
We had friends over every night.
On Friday we visited the mountain store and listened to Lauren sing at the Carabiner. 
Micah headed back to college this morning as well.
Lauren came over today with her new puppies.

Friday, March 24, 2017


March 22. 2017


Even from me, Mr. Open and Honest,
there can be TMI.

This morning
I was heading to the toilet,
which is a big production.

On my bookshelf by my bed,
I noticed a urinal full of pee
still sitting there.

I said to Candice,
‘You should take a picture,
put it on the blog.”

Candice said,
“You want me to?”

I said, “no, TMI.”

Then Jackie and Candice
helped me stand up,
get to the walker,
and walk to the toilet.

As I stood up
the urge to go poop
overwhelmed me.

I pooped in my pants.

Jackie and Candice
didn’t know where to put me.
I ended up on the floor.

On the way
down to the floor
my right leg strained
but somehow I found myself
safely on my back.

In some ways
it felt good to lay down on the floor,
but I had no idea how I was going to get up.

Somehow Jackie and Candice
cleaned me up without making a mess on the carpet.

They made some phone calls
looking for a strong guy to help us.
Candice’s boyfriend, Tim, was on his way over.

Tim was able to lift me off the floor,
no problem,
up into the portable shower chair.
He carried me in the shower chair to the toilet.
He lifted me from the chair to the toilet.
He lifted me from the toilet to the shower.
He lifted from the shower back to the toilet.
And then back to the shower.
Jackie took over from there,
giving me my daily tooth brush, shave and shower.


The albatross of the day
is my new ventilator,
the machine that is supposed to help me breathe.

Yesterday, a nurse from Billings
came to help me.
I’ve had the machine for three weeks
and haven’t been able to use it.
With her help, I was able to use it
for fifteen minutes,
a small victory.
I’m supposed to use it eventually
all night long.
In the meantime, in order to get used to it,
I need to do it as long as I can during the day.
The machine blows air into my diaphragm
and helps stretch out my compromised lungs.

After the nurse left yesterday
I tried to use the machine five times.
I wasn’t able to use it for more than three minutes.

Today I needed to try again.
During my massage with Sara,
we tried again with Michelle helping.
I panicked immediately.
I had Michelle take the mask off.

There’s a lot of pressure on me
to succeed with this machine.
Jackie came into the room during my massage
to talk to me.
In tears she told me that the consequences
of me being unable to breathe better with the machine
is a tracheostomy, but more so
the family’s desire to have me stick around
for as long as possible.

I am losing my body,
my voice is weak,
my hands don’t work,
I can hardly lift my arms,
my legs are heavy.
I can still stand up,
I can still walk maybe ten yards,
who knows for how long.
I can’t imagine what it will be like
when I can no longer do anything physical.

I am still here,
I am Mark,
my brain has not changed.
I am who I am.
But, to live without a body…


Jackie tells me,
she compares my need to conquer the machine
to having contractions.
She tells me how much I helped her
during the birth of our three children.
She tells me my soothing voice
helped her achieve an out of body experience
during Micah’s birth.

Sara tells me I am a teacher.
Uses a tuning fork.
My massage ends.

It’s Jackie’s turn.

Michelle feeds me lunch.
Micah and I go for a walk in the neighborhood
with Tucker and Debbie who came to see me and have dinner.

No more TMI.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Messages of Love

Everyday I receive texts, emails, snail mail cards
from friends, family, loved ones from all over the world.
They touch me deeply and help get me through the days.
Here are a few recent ones.

From Laila

Mark you are a good person who help me during my hard life with your nice wife  Jackie you are the best boss, father and husband .God bless you for the help and support for me and my son amir ,i never forget when I was so sad and you ask me let go for a walk out of the store and we can talk you want me to be happy for my son , take me two years to forget all the hurt inside of me I learn a big lesson in my life , you cant trust some  people for fake love that can cost you alot and stole your smile ,but now I have a candle lights my path is my son.and you have Jackie ,your kids and friends,familly helping that a gift from God ,i send you this picture to be in your blog like I'm there I wich if I can help love you and amir because we are part of your life with our heart ,thx again for every thing

Hi Jackie I love to see your smile all the time you are a great mom and wife  take care of your self too because your familly need you more than any thing else be strong all the time ,big hug , you helping people ,now people helping you that what you need. that mean you are the best be a proud of your self with all the love around you , you can do it Lady with big heart ,love laila ,amir .hi to my markey ,

From an old college friend who I lost touch with.
From my Aunt Sylvia who sends me cards weekly.

From Jackie's godmother, Aunt Emily who sends frequent cards and texts.

From my dear cousin Ruthie after her visit.



Last night, I went to the James Sewell ballet at the WMPAC
On arriving, getting situated in my spot
I immediately ran into John Bauchman
I haven’t seen him in over a year
He was our original partner 
In the Hungry Moose building in Town Center
It was very nice to see him
a bit intense
His wife Patty had a stroke over a year ago
I knew nothing about it
John looked great and told me that Patty was doing well
It was hard to talk to him because my voice is so soft 
And WMPAC is so loud
There were others I ran into as well 
I told everybody to please feel free to text 
And visit me at home when possible

The ballet was awesome.
I found the first half very soothing
I had trouble keeping my eyes open
The dancers were so fit
Their performances were flawless
The ballet after intermission was very intense
It was futuristic, robotic, digital
The body work was stiff, abrupt and unnatural
It made me very anxious and lasted way too long
Being who I am and watching these amazing bodies 
Using muscles that I didn’t know I had when I was healthy
It was too intense for me
By the end of the show my body was so stiff
I could hardly control my chair
I needed to go home

Somehow I made my way out of WMPAC
Candice took over the controls of my chair 
Got me up the ramp and into the van

While she was pressing the button to pull in the ramp
Hannah stepped on the ramp
Thank God she didn’t fall 
and stumbled her way into the van
She looked at me intensely with tears in her eyes
She said to me, I am so happy to see you at the show
You are a visionary
You have the opportunity to see the world 
in a different way than anybody else
You are a visionary

It was a very intense way to end a very intense evening

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ode to JJ

Jackie went to Targhee this weekend
to watch Howie’s freeride skiing competition
We haven’t had a day apart since first diagnosis
And the angels keep coming
Our home has become a revolving door of love
People in the Big Sky community keep showing up
to help take care of me or just to see me

Right now I am sitting with Kristin and JJ 
Kristin is typing this for me
I just noticed how pretty her necklace was and complimented her
And JJ said “are you hitting on my wife”
I said, “Of course I am, we have done handstands together.
I bet you never have done that with her”

The other day, I was taking a walk outside 
with Jackie and Kathy House
Drive Around Dan was driving by and pulled over
said to me “you are the best, you are the best, 
you are the best, you are the best”
got out of the car and walked with us
Dan and know each other for the entire time that
I have been in Big Sky, over 23 years,
but we don’t really know each other that well
There he is stopping his day and walking with me for an hour
He lent me the first wine book that I ever read
It was all about the history of Napa Valley
After reading that book, I was hooked
and I have read many wine books since.

I sometimes wonder about my place in the Big Sky community
I have often been reminded about how grumpy I could be at work
Jackie would often explain to people that I was just working hard
Some of my best friend’s first memories of me 
are about me being mean
My buddy Josh often recalls the first time we met when he asked me
where the tomatoes were
I walked over to him and said “right here in front of you”
he says he bought his tomatoes and ran
At the same time, others tell me
how their first experience on arriving to Big Sky was the Hungry Moose
how they fondly recall the days of the old Moose
when we could stand around and visit 
for over an hour without interruption

I wrote this poem for JJ after our employee party back in December
JJ joined the festivities wearing a sweatsedo and got the idea to get me one too:

Ode to J.J.

20 years ago, a young man from Pennsylvania
arrived to Big Sky
first stop Hungry Moose

his parents owned a natural food and supplements store
which he grew up in
he was coming to Big Sky
to teach elementary school
we talked and talked about teaching and retail

10 years later after J.J. had taught all 3 of my boys
in the 4th grade
we ran into each other at the bar
and shared shot after shot
and laugh after laugh

I’ve watched him make friends,
I’ve watched him get married
I’ve watched him become a father
I’ve watched him become a man, a town leader, a mensch

During middle school basketball I ran the scoreboard  and he coached
During high school football I ran the scoreboard and he announced

he has become famous for his sweat suits
and just yesterday he sent my son Howie home
with one for me

I wear it with pride