Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Life Well-Lived: With love to Markymoose

Dear Followers of Markymooseinbigsky,

I think most of you know by now that Mark passed away on December 18th, 2017 in our home with Howie and me present. His brave and open battle with ALS ended rather suddenly. I still cannot believe he is gone. Micah drove home from college the next day, our families all arrived by Wednesday. We put together a beautiful memorial service at The Big Sky Chapel on Thursday with burial in the Jewish section of Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman. On Friday we continued to celebrate his life with an open house at the riverside barn at The Rainbow Ranch Lodge in Big Sky. So many beautiful stories and tributes. The family all left on Saturday. The boys and I went out over the next couple of days and enjoyed life in Mark's memory; downhill skiing, cross county skiing in Yellowstone Park, seeing the new Star Wars movie and Christmas night with many of our closest friends. Friends who walked this path with us from start to finish. At the end of the evening, we all took a walk in the falling snow; holding hands, laughing, crying, hugging. It symbolized the end of the traditional Shiva period. Since then, the boys and I have all put in some time at The Hungry Moose; working the registers, making deliveries, stocking shelves, carrying on in the memory of the man who started it all and who gave so much of himself to it's success. 

Mark had not posted on this blog since early November. Not because he was so sick but because we were living. We took a vacation to Sedona, Arizona which included a day trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Our friend, Klaudia Kosiak performed a classical piano recital in Mark's honor on his 56th birthday on November 30th. He attended our staff holiday party.  A few days later we held our traditional Sagittarian birthday party where Mark enjoyed a little 2005 Bordeaux in his feed tube. On the day he passed away, he spent three hours that morning with a speech therapist trying to improve his ability to communicate on the eye gaze computer. He made a little headway and we were hopeful. 

The flip side though, was that life was becoming more and more difficult for him and for our family. Here is one of the last things he wrote with the eye gaze computer that we never got posted:

November 19, 2017

the world works in mysterious ways
I have become incontinent especially at night
I can't help it
I can't believe it's happening to me
Jackie has to clean me up
it takes her at least an hour
I have this silly grin on my face
I don't think it's funny at all but I do
it's an ALS inappropriate behavior
I also try to wake up jackie 
it takes me a lot of time to wake her up
I wear the mask and my teeth are starting to fall out
ALS isn't fun or funny
we are in Sedona on vacation
people keep walking away from me when I am talking to them
people move my chair when they feel like it
I have to have extra patience

I would have titled that post "The Indignity of ALS". Incontinence, loosing teeth, constant suctioning,  not really being able to communicate what was in his mind, putting up with so much. How did he do it? How did we do it?  We aren't doing it anymore. I hate that Mark is no longer here with us, even in the state he was in. I hate that I can't tell him everything I want to tell him and that he can't advise me on what to do anymore. I might appear strong but I feel like half of me is gone. 

To everyone who walked this path with us-which is pretty much everyone who knew and loved Mark- the boys and I send out our most heartfelt appreciation. We learned how to reach out. We learned how to accept help. We learned how to share our grief and sadness. We learned how to comfort others who loved Mark too. We learned how to try and make the most of each day when the world seemed to be conspiring against us. Mark lives on in his three sons, in me and I think in each of you too. He was just that kind of guy. 

Sunset hike. Click below for Micah's Sedona edit. 

Evening stroll in Salt Lake City

with Klaudia Kosiak 

Mom and Alex out for the birthday concert

With Candice and Nazha, December 12, 2017

Mark's service and celebration are available for viewing on the Big Sky Soul Shine Facebook page. You don't have to be on Facebook to see it. You can also go to

Lanterns lifting off at Rainbow Ranch

With love to everyone who loved Mark and supported our family. 
We could not have walked this path alone. 

Jackie, Andrew, Micah, Howie
and Markymoose too, of course

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Memorial, a Reunion and the Last Big Horn Game of the Season

October 22

we went to Mary Lou Cook's
memorial yesterday
it was a catholic mass
the priest asked me
if I wanted to take communion
he blessed me
the Father, the Son and
the Holy Ghost
Mary Lou was someone I admired
not that I always appreciated her
not when she touched every tomato
at farmer's market
when we were looking for
a new location for the store
she advised us
her advice was to follow our instincts
I guess we had good instincts about friends

Mary Lou had a lot of
tragedy in her life
she would plow forward
and say that life is for the living

Mary Lou's family is awesome
her granddaughter, Amelia
is one of my favorites
she worked for us one summer
and was such a pleasure
she was always on time
she always had a smile on her face
despite being thrown to the wolves
at the deli counter
we hope she will
work with us again

October 28

My college friend, Marty Shore
came for a visit
I hadn’t seen him 
in thirty-five years
It was like a snap of the fingers 
Marty went to the football 
playoff game with us
we traveled in the van to Drummond 
the Big Horns had it handed to them
no touchdowns for Howie
or anyone else on the team
Marty and I lived on the same floor 
all four years of college
we were always good friends
we told some stories 
of our times together 
but we hardly scratched the surface 
he’ll just have to come back with his family

Friday, October 20, 2017

Deep Thoughts and More Football with Markymoose

what is the meaning of life? 
what is deep in your heart? 
the answer lies within each of us
some people would say
it’s all about family
some people would say
it’s all about happiness
I say happiness is fleeting
there are moments of pure joy
I still have some of those 
especially at Howie’s football games
I would still say
it’s all about family
a healthy family and friends
our friends have always been family to us
we are very fortunate
to have this extended family
in our case, it reaches far and wide
our customers, vendors, employees 
I can’t believe how many good friends 
we have made through the store
when I say healthy
I am speaking relatively
we all have our own stuff
that brings us up or down


the Big Horns won their game 
this past Friday night
we drove to Absarokee
it sleeted it snowed it rained
there was no score until 
Howie caught a touchdown pass 
late in the third quarter
then Absarokee ran the kickoff 
back for a touchdown
we were up 8 to 6 
until Howie caught
another touchdown pass
The final score was 21 to 6
Our record is 6-2 
we went with our friends 
visiting us from France 
it was their first American football game
a couple days later we all went to Jackson Hole
we drove through Yellowstone 
and Grand Teton National Parks
the weather was spectacular
on the return, we spent four hours
at a picnic area on the rocky shore of Jackson Lake 
with an amazing view of the Tetons

it was so nice to have Isabelle and Didier here
we are very blessed with people
they came over every morning
Didier would say okay Mark 
Isabelle would give me a kiss on the cheek
we face-timed with their daughter, Sarah
I kept cryng because I was upset
that nothing will be easy again
I will never go to Europe again
but our friends visit us
and it is all about the people


the Big Horns played their
last home game of the regular season
against Ennis on Wednesday
it was senior night
we were destroyed 50-7
Howie scored our lone touchdown
keeping his streak of at least
one touchdown in every game alive

Big Horn-Ennis Newsreel:
"who else but Howie Robin. . . "

Monday, October 2, 2017

Yom Kippur 2017: Reflections and Touchdowns

September 25

my father died a year ago today
we were on our way to Colorado
to tell Micah about my diagnosis

he was a great man
the last time I saw him
I was visiting at Highgate
he was so happy to see me
he gave me such a big smile
I almost cried
the Mets won 17-1
on the day he died

I want to tell a story about him
when Stan was starting to date Pearl
he called her and she wasn't home
my aunt rose, my mother's younger sister
wouldn't take a message
'cause girls don't call boys

somehow they still got together
they met on the beach in Florida
Stan's pickup line was
to ask Pearl for a cigarette

September 27

I used to write
a reflection for the year
I have a lot to reflect on
it was the first anniversary
of my dad's death
looking at the yahrzeit candles
side by side set the tears rolling
mom and dad reunited

a lot has changed in the past year
I had my best night's sleep
in a long time after Kol Nidre services
I really enjoyed seeing everyone
the music, the rabbi's message
I shed a lot of tears
at the sight of friends
I hadn't seen in a while
I reflected about my life and death

September 28

the Big Horns won
their game this week 55-54
it was a barn burner
it went down to the final play
the Park City quarterback
tripped over his own player
and we sacked him
he tried to get up
and run another play
but the clock had expired
it was another one for the record books
Howie had three touchdowns
in the first half

October 2

I get closer to the end every day
we all do
I do not have the exclusive
on pain and discomfort
but I do have the right to complain
I can't eat anymore
brushing my teeth
has become torture
three times a day
my mouth muscles
no longer work
but I can still watch my son
catch miraculous touchdown passes
the meaning of life
is a mystery

See this newsreel for Howie Robin in action. . .