To describe Paddy Mark in one word, I would use “passionate” as the defining mote. I only knew Paddy for a few years, yet she had a profound effect on me and my family, as she had on many people’s lives. I met Paddy in the early 1990s when we moved to Nanaimo, and it wasn’t long before we were invited to one of her famous garden parties. Paddy’s magnificent rhododendron gardens were in full display and the party went on rain or shine every May. She knew my husband professionally, and was also our family physician; after she retired she became a personal friend. A visit to Paddy’s office at Sow’s Ear Clinic meant time to peruse the multitude of witty and funny comments posted on the walls.
We bonded over another of her passions when my family was torn apart by addiction; Paddy was there to encourage me, stand by me, and remind me that recovery was possible and that I should never give up. She never let go of me, meeting with me every few days during the very worst of it and encouraging me to stay the course. There were many times when I should have and may have walked away, yet she encouraged me to stay. Her belief that family ties were retrievable was infectious, and I grew to believe in what she said.
Paddy’s passion for working with the addicted population applied to people in all circumstances. She truly believed in her work and saw no difference between the a person with an addiction in prison and one in our community. She understood that the underlying problem was the same, regardless of the victim. She did not judge but she was absolutely clear about the obstacles families would face when dealing with addiction. I clearly remember her telling me that if families knew they would have to live with craziness a long while before their loved one recovered, they would not stay the course. The fact that I was able to retrieve my family from addiction is something I attribute directly to Paddy’s influence. I cannot thank her enough for believing in us as individuals, and in the family as a powerful healing tool for a person with an addiction. She taught me so much about addiction and how it was possible to retrieve family bonds even though they may be changed.
When Paddy’s health wavered, we shared lovely days pursuing her passion of procuring plants for her garden. Everywhere we went people knew who she was and of her magnificent gardens. It was humbling for me. Paddy’s love for her family was equally intense; her love for her children and grandchildren was obvious in our many conversations at her kitchen table drinking tea, watching the hummingbirds. She hated the distance that COVID-19 imposed on all of us, and she issued a standing invitation for a glass of red wine among the rhodos to catch up when we could. I’ve planted rhodos in my garden in her memory and will think of her every time I look at them.
This obituary has been anonymized to protect the privacy of the parties involved.
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