The Brevity of This Life, Part II

It’s been a bit, I know, but I have been noodling on how to say what I want to say about Mark Jolley. So, consider this a living tribute, I guess.

I worked with Mark on a daily basis for almost five years. This working relationship is a little different than you might expect.  Mark was the territory manager and I was his dedicated sales engineer. What this means is that we would often travel to the same location together, hop in a rental car, and spend three days or so driving around visiting customers and partners, doing events, etc. That equals hours of windshield time together. In the evening, we would check in to the same hotel (some flavor of Marriott) and we would eat together at the same restaurant. This equates to HOURS and HOURS of time spent with just the two of us sharing conversation and trying to keep from driving each other crazy. So, I have some insights into Mark (and vice versa) that aren’t the norm when you talk about a colleague.

Mark Enjoys Food

naglee burgerNow, I know that he is not unique in that respect…heck, I enjoy food, too. But you would have to share a meal with Mark to understand what I mean. I remember eating sashimi with him at a traditional Japanese restaurant (no sushi bar in sight) in LA, and the absolute, unfiltered JOY on his face when he tasted that buttery, perfect fish. Or when we ate at Red Iguana in Salt Lake City and tasted their sublime mole. We spent some period of time seeking out DDD recommended spots to sample their food as the Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill, where they grill up that day’s catch and put it in a taco for you. Or the burger at Naglee Park Garage in San Jose. Look, I could go on here, and it’s almost lunch time, which means this is making me hungry. You see, we would not only eat this good food, but Mark would spend significant effort extolling the food that we were, at that very moment, eating. Each bite for him was a glorious experience and merited a thoughtful soliloquy. I learned from Mark that I needed to set aside any personal stressors and enjoy these simple things for what they were, when they were happening. Thank you.

Mark Likes Movies

napoleon_dynamite_by_kcbonxNow, this is an area in which Mark and I are very alike. I have a defined weakness for the silver screen, and will overlook massive plot and character flaws to enjoy the spectacle that I am watching. Movies really bring out the child in me, and I believe they do the same thing for Mark. I recall this time in LA, we decided to go see Taken at a downtown LA theater. As we watched this movie together, we both had VERY visceral reactions to it. As a father, it really pushed those “protector” buttons that got installed when my daughters were born. We would both cringe at the same moments, or pump our fists when the good guy did something COMPLETELY AWESOME. We left that theater vowing that our daughters would never travel in Europe without armed escort and nano-engineered protective body armor. Look, I know how unrealistic that sounds, and I know that the movie is overly-dramatized. Refer to sentence two, please, and cut me some slack. Mark, you taught me here to like what I like and not care what others thought, even if it’s dumb.

FYI — If you are wondering about the Napoleon Dynamite image, Mark grew up in Idaho, and verified that this movie is, in fact, a documentary and not fictional at all.

Mark Digs Technology

Mark spent all of his career working in sales for hi-tech companies, and he is invigorated by advances in tech and science. This is not something you would normally expect from a conservative Christian, but it is true. I remember when Mark was having problems with numbness and shoulder-neck pain, and he decided to get a new type of treatment that was being piloted in Phoenix. He did TONS of research and would gush about the technique, the doctors, and the amazing things they could do to alleviate his pain. Even now, faced with what he is faced with, Mark talks about the amazing advances being made in battling cancer and how they are helping him and his family. He has a deep faith, to be sure, and I do not doubt that he is bolstered by his friends and family through that faith during this time. Mark, you reinforced in me that my faith and my love of science and tech are not diametrically opposed thoughts.

Mark Loves His Family

That may seem strange to call out, as most of us consider it an assumption. But Mark was constantly talking about the accomplishments of his children. What guy his daughter was dating (or marrying, eventually), what school his sons were attending, or the mission on which his son was embarked. Whenever I travelled to his home city, Salt Lake, he would make an effort to involve me in some of his family time (usually over food. surprise). Mark would host movie nights in his back yard and put up a bed-sheet screen for friends and family to enjoy. Mark’s adoration for his wife Kellie was always apparent. Mark, thank you for including me in those brief moments with your family. Those moments are cherished memories.

I hope this gives you a sense of who Mark is to me. I know that we often are different people to the people we interact with, but this is my Mark. He is approaching his situation with grace and poise, and the love he has for others is apparent, even in the brief messages we have exchanged since I learned of his illness. My hope for you, dear reader, is that somewhere in your life you have or have had a Mark Jolley. Your life is a little less without it.

Thank you, Mark. Thank you.

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