By Stefania Seccia, Megaphone
When asked what brought him to start selling the Hope in Shadows calendar more than 10 years ago, he says, “Poverty.” But it was also an opportunity to do something different, he explains, which is why he’s also been selling Megaphone for the last four years. “I’d never been a seller, so it was new and I thought well, I’ll give it a shot,” he adds. “And it’s worked for me.”
Mark was born and raised in the Downtown Eastside and knows the neighbourhood well. He had a difficult childhood, and grew up in a dysfunctional family. “Since I was young, I’ve been very biased in how I viewed the world, how I viewed women and where their place in society should be. That was traumatic for me because the woman that I fell in love with, she was able to show me things about myself that I didn’t like.”
Mark describes his experience growing up as a “baptism by fire.” Now 65, he says he’s focusing more now on his one true life goal, which is “to become myself.”
“We adopt so many facades, so many different personalities that we show to the public and there’s really no need for it,” he says. “Especially in my case, because as dysfunctional as I was, I thought I had to be macho tough, short ass 4’6” thinking he’s 6’4”. I’m lucky to even make it to 65.”
Over a number of years, Mark says he gradually started to build self-awareness about himself and his place in the neighbourhood, and wanted to move past his struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Mark also takes great pride in his two children, a 36-year-old son and 27-year-old daughter, and his two grandsons. He says he made it a point to be in his children’s lives from the moment they were born, to give them a relationship with their parent that he didn’t have. His daughter works at Battered Women’s Support Society, and he says she has made him very proud. He notes at her age, he was serving “time in the pen.”
“All these life experiences, I’m able to look at now and I’m thankful because I haven’t become bitter like a lot of my friends who went through similar experiences, or maybe worse experiences, and they’ve allowed that to embitter them,” he says. “And that’s really unfortunate because there is a life out there. I’m living life now after all these years, finally at 65, I’m learning how to live.”
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