Work for your Living; Live for your Interest
December 2, 2014
I met Mark on a cool sunny afternoon in June when he was there waiting for me to sign my tenancy agreement.
His building was one of the most beautiful apartments uptown. Upon entering the open hall, the three-story high sky light gave me a feeling that I was in a domed-roof church. I could see all three rectangular corridors from where I was standing. I had my eight pieces of luggage laid at the corner against the arched bench surrounded by a string of oval mini gardens. Five or six slim tropical trees stood lazily with huge long leaves spread from top to waist. Some stout plants sat under the leaf umbrellas. With a magnetic low voice from the farthest corner, he came with a one-foot-long parrot, named “Fart”, on his shoulder. A thin, braided ponytail made his forehead even bolder and brighter. He showed me my suite, which exceeded my expectations. It was my happy beginning in Canada.
A couple of days later, I purchased a TV set from Future Shop. However I did not know anyone, not even a taxi driver, who could help me bring it home (In my hometown, the vendor would arrange it. Alternatively I could stop any available taxi on the road.) I ended up calling Mark to give me a hand. He did it with his old crumpled car! When all was done, he refused even a penny from me for his help.
Afterward, Mark’s wife sometimes picked me up for grocery shopping because I did not have a car then. They knew that my husband and I were struggling to find a related professional job. To survive, we had to do labouring work first, which we had not experienced before.
One day Mark said to me, “I came from England when I was a kid. I understand how much help and change a new immigrant needs.”
He offered my husband a part time job to boost our new life style in Canada.
Soon after, his wife asked me one day: “Would you like Geoff to work in our garden?”
I replied, “Of course, but I do not understand what kind of job an eight-year old boy can do.”
She smiled and handed me a pair of kid’s gardening gloves and a mini notebook. “Let Geoff pick up those falling leaves and sweep the small cobblestone path around the garden whenever he finds it necessary. Take a note, record the time he spent, sometimes 5 minutes, or 10 minutes is fine. Add them up and I will pay him every month.” So my son also started his first job in Canada!
Mark has a sense of humor, but it does not always mean fun.
Like the other kids in our neighbourhood, my son loved to play and make jokes with Mark. Mark sometimes teased him, too. However one day Mark gave my husband, my son, and I a ride to Metrotown. We talked and made jokes. Geoff started talking back to me when I asked him to stop his funny joke, so we could focus on one topic. Geoff did not stop, and I did not ask him again. Surprisingly Mark said: “I do not like a kid talking back to his parent in this way. It is a matter of who is the boss in the house. The kids must show respect to their parents. ” After this incident, Mark gave Geoff a lesson by not making jokes with him for a long time.
Mark sparked me to get hit my stride for my real life.
About ten years ago, Mark moved to Vancouver Island for his retirement. We were invited to visit them every summer and they visited us every spring.
I was amazed when Mark said that he had travelled to many places. He gave my son piles of postal stamps and stories from over fifty different countries for his collection.
Mark has a full shelf of record discs. He also has at least four guitars in his studio. However, I never saw him play any of them. I knew he was very diligent in writing and sometimes tutoring some college students about their essays. What I don’t understand is how he handled these academic things because he left school at the age of fifteen!
Mark always says, “Here is in Canada. If you set up your goal, you must put your effort to reach it.” We set up our own business with his encouragement. Once, when my son went to Mark’s wife’s dental clinic for job shadowing, Mark sent him a plate with the motto, “Discipline is remembering what you want.” He told Geoff not to return it before he becomes Dr.Young.
When we went to his home, his old mountain shepherd dog, his eight adopted birds (Fart died several years ago but its house was set at the entrance door header), his one school of colourful tropical fish, his three active turtles, and his six spoiled chickens became my daughter’s pets. These pets gave my daughter the most joyful time and made her join the SPCA club. Her curiosity with animals gifted her a new goal: to become a vet when she grows up.
Last Christmas, we received a surprise - a pack of CDs - featuring nearly sixty of Roland Digh’s thousands of songs! After listening to his CDs, I discovered that Roland Digh is Mark. He was one of the most famous singers back in Eastern Canada and the states many years ago, and a successful songwriter in Canada in the last few decades. Mysteriously Mark always used his penname on his works.
Later from his wife, I got to know that Mark suffered a lot since his teenage years, and struggled from his fame which he did not really want. Despite the hardships, he never gave up his music---his real interest.
Last time when I was leaving his home, Mark could hardly move his bad knee - an unfortunate result of a medical operation - from his studio to say goodbye. I suddenly became sentimental. Mark is like an eagle. He flies high in the sky with his strong wings. He gives himself a freedom. Every time he pauses, is for a further flight. Now though his wings are not as strong as before, but his thoughts of music are soaring higher than ever.