Today I mourn the loss of my brother.
With his siblings and parents at his side, Mark James Joseph Kormendy peacefully passed away in Guelph General Hospital at 5 minutes to 3pm.
With ironic grace there could be no better opportunity to say goodbye, with family at your side.
Mark, I already miss you so much.
On a cold Sunday morning, the 19th of January 1964 a son was born to Diana & Mike Kormendy. This child was given the name Mark James Joseph.
Being their first child; he was a small baby but soon put on weight, and by the age of one, had already started to walk. Mark’s young mind was a very creative one, and he soon developed his own vocabulary. Instead of saying watermelon, it was always said: “water-nemel”; and when his mother was working on the sewing machine, Mark would insist on saying she was on the “la-la-la-la-la…”
Mark was often looked after by his father; a shift worker at the time. To this day we aren’t sure who was babysitting whom, as Dad shared similar sleeping patterns as Mark, and was often found asleep at “nap time” as well.
When Mark got a little older he attended kindergarten at St. Mary’s elementary school here in Blenheim. Because of Mark’s hearing disability, it was suggested that he attend a special school for deaf children in Milton. So, at the beginning of grade three, Mark would leave home every Sunday on a bus headed for Milton; suitcase in tow. He would then return, the following Friday, for family time on the weekend.
Denise remembers having to go to bed early when Mark came home. He had taught her to fingerspell, and the two of them would communicate to each other secretly between the bunk beds at night. To avoid getting into trouble for staying up late, Denise would warn Mark when Mom or Dad were approaching by banging the underside of the top bunk.
Mark quickly realized that wearing a hearing-aid also had its advantages! He developed selective hearing by turning off his hearing-aid when he was being scolded or didn’t want to listen!
Back at the school in Milton, the staff discovered Mark’s ability to surpass the grade-three expectations, and thus he was enrolled with one of the local elementary school in Milton as well. A year and a half later, Mark transferred to a new facility in London called the Robart School for the Deaf.
Again, Mark’s teachers quickly discovered his exceptional knowledge and understanding of grade material. They further recommended that he would be better placed in a regular classroom with the assistance of a phonic-ear device and speech therapy coaching in the family’s hometown. Mark began grade five at Harwich Raleigh Public School and became enamored with two very outgoing teachers: Mrs. Hetherington and Mrs. Wright. They accepted Mark’s challenges, and as a result he excelled at school yet again.
He attended Blenheim District High-school, where he graduated in 1984, and during those school years Mark discovered a passion for electronics. He built a crystal radio by himself, and Michael’s earliest memories of Mark were of him fixing “walkie-talkies” and helping with the switch control device on the family model railroad.
From an avid hobby to a professional career, Mark pursued his interests in electronics at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. He graduated in 1988 from the Electrical Engineering Technology Program and remained in Toronto. For a short while, he worked for Ontario Hydro, and then later, with IBM at Celestica.
Throughout all of the difficulties Mark faced in his life, he still managed to be an inspiration to his siblings. Being hard-of-hearing made simple activities, such as a phone call, hard to do. But whenever he called back home, he insisted on speaking with and listening to Jeannine to improve his communication skills. He would only use the TTY when he really got lost or needed clarification.
Now, to understand Mark, you really have to understand these things that he was passionate about. Mark was most memorable by his electronic hobbies and his quirky sense of humour.
If Mark was here right now to coin a phrase about himself, it would probably go something like this:
• Mark was like an electronic resistor: able to resist the temptations that life threw his way,
• And he was also like an electronic capacitor: with the capacity to love all things good and look beyond, in bursts of joy,
• Finally he was like an electronic transistor: able to transition through the various phases of his life.
Mark held a number of contract jobs in electronics but never gave up in looking for a permanent job in the field. Finally he applied for a position with Rim in Waterloo and also a position with Valcom in Guelph. He landed both jobs, and Mark then made the tough decision, knowing that he would do best with the Electronics Technician job at Valcom. So in the summer of 2000, Mark moved to Guelph with plans to temporarily live with his parents while he pursued the next phase of his career.
Industrious by nature, Mark participated in many extra curricular activities. He was highly involved with the hard of hearing community and taught CPR with St. John’s Ambulance. He also enjoyed working-out, playing softball, and of course operating his many computers (do any of your remember the Commador VIC20?).
Mark was a huge Trekkie fan, and would often repeat by memory, various quotes from the popular TV series. He also enjoyed attending the Acquired Brain Injury program (ABI) where he participated in the activities hosted by St. Joseph’s Hospital staff in Guelph … in fact: he would get quite upset if he was unable to go!
After Mark lost his leg, he regained his independence by buying his first car: a sporty-red Saturn Ion, specially equipped for him with all of the bells and whistles. This was a big deal to him and he took driving courses to make sure he was ready for the road. Eventually this inspired some of his ABI friends to get their driver’s licenses too!
It is very hard to understand what happened to Mark in the final years of his life, but the most appropriate explanation can be said in the following poem:
God saw you getting tired
When a cure was not to be,
He closed His arms around you
And whispered “Come to Me”,
In tears we saw you sinking,
We watched you fade away,
Our hearts were almost broken,
You fought so hard to stay.
But when we saw you sleeping
So peacefully, free from pain
We would not wish you back
To suffer that again.
So treasure him, Lord,
In your garden of rest,
For here on earth
He was one of the best.
We will all miss you dearly Mark.
The following poem was sent to the funeral home with a beautiful Calla lily arrangement from Cory Young, a good friend of mine:
May Angels Rest Beside Your Door,
May You Hear Their Voices Sing,
May You Fell Their Loving Care For You,
May You Hear Their Peace Bells Ring,
May Angels Always Care For You,
And Not Let You Trip Or Fall.
May They Bear You Up On Angel’s Wings,
May They Keep You Standing Tall,
May They Whisper Wisdom In Your Ear,
May They Touch You When You Need,
May They Remove You From Each Trace Of Fear,
May They Keep You From Feeling Greed,
May They Fill You With Their Presence,
May They Show You Love Untold,
May They Always Stand Beside You,
And Make You Ever Bold.
May They Teach You What You Need To Know
About Life Here And Here-After,
May They Fill You Always With Their Love
And Give You The Gift Of Laughter.