Sunday, June 28, 2009
Remembering Mark Wine
After a long and brave battle against cancer, Mark Wine, the husband of my sister-in-law's sister, died on June 2 at the age of 56.
I didn't know Mark well. We saw each other just a few times each year –usually on holidays at my brother and sister-in-law's home– but I'm pretty quiet at family gatherings and I don't recall ever having a conversation with Mark that went beyond the usual family pleasantries. I knew Mark was a furniture salesman and I knew that he and his wife Barbara were deeply in love, but I didn't know much else about him. Mark also was somewhat quiet, and not someone who talked a lot about himself.
It wasn't until the last two months of Mark's life, when I visited Mark and Barbara's home, that I began to get a better sense of the man.
And on those two occasions, Mark wasn't even home; he was in the hospital. On the first visit, his wife led me on a tour of their home and I saw a space adjacent to the living room that looked like it might be Mark's favorite room. In it, Mark displayed surf boards, posters of the movie "Endless Summer," photographs of himself with his surfing buddies, trophies and much more.
The second visit was on the Sunday following Mark's passing. Amid all of the surfing paraphernalia in Mark's room was a hospital bed.
Today the Malibu Surfing Association hosted a memorial service for Mark at Surfrider Beach in the heart of Malibu. A huge number of his friends turned out to honor him, share memories and then paddle out into the ocean as a way of paying tribute.
Martin Sugarman, one of his Mark's friends, wrote an essay titled "To Remember Mark Wine," and copies were distributed to each participant in the service. In it, Martin writes:
"Mark was a dedicated surfer at heart. He loved the different moods of the ocean. The ocean triggered deep and wonderful feelings in him. In his feelings he recognized his inner self. He understood the ancient truth that one has to stay in tune with one's feelings to have a vital and undivided self. He learned to flow with the ocean's currents, rolling with its eternal waves. Mark was non-egotistical and at one with nature and its tides of life and death. Life emerged from the ocean millions of years ago, and sooner or later it will reclaim all of us."
I watched Mark's friends paddle out to sea on their boards and form a circle. Some time later, they broke away in small groups to ride back to the shore, and then they paddled out again. The waves were gentle and the water was warm.
I doubt that Mark had done much surfing over the past year, when his suffering from cancer was intense. But I definitely felt his presence at Surfrider Beach today. I bet everyone did.