Mark Waters passed away Wednesday, July 27; he was 57. Though Mark was a painter and the hardest working human I have ever, and will ever meet, he would be annoyed to think it was the highlight of his memorial. Instead, I will merely say he painted many towns. He painted much of California, north and south; he painted the Vegas housing boom, he painted much of Alaska, and most recently he painted Bellingham, Washington. We were wanderers. He would rather me talk about the kind of father he was because it was me, his only daughter whom he raised by himself and with great grace, which he considered the most significant endeavor of his life. When I was born, he was shooed away from the nursery because he wouldn't stop smooshing his face against the window. When I was two, he shattered his foot and had to chase me around on crutches. When I was seven I asked him if there was a god, and he told me that he thought there was, but I would need to decide that for myself. I still haven't. There is a unique kind of relationship between a single parent and an only child; ours was not a household of an authority-figure parent, but rather a partnership. A friend of his once called us a cute little set, and often people wouldn't recognize me if we weren't together. We were, in every way, a team. When I was 13, we added a black Labrador to our family, Max, who my father loves as his second child. When I was 15, I went vegetarian, and he did as well. He would be quick to tell anyone who would listen how amazing animals are, dogs particularly. He loved. More than anything else I could tell you about my father, he loved. He loved this earth and all the creatures on it, though least of all human beings. He was a little like Mark Twain that way. He was the only human being I have ever known who in his forties and fifties was able to change his life and try to become the kind of person he wanted to be. To say I don't know how to exist without him is an understatement, though he knew I loved him. I know he loved me more than anything, and I am so grateful he devoted his life to raising me. He used to tell me that we couldn't look back on the good times because they never ended. We were always in the good times. For now, my good times have ended, but I have 25 years of love and happiness and sheer joy and adventure; there is never enough time, but we filled every second with laughter. And he had such a big laugh. He leaves behind his daughter, Max, an angry cat, his mother, and two sisters.
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Published in Bellingham Herald on Aug. 2, 2016