Family of deceased mushroom picker appreciates help of friends, community, Search and Rescue and the RCMP

When your loved one is missing, the unknown is agonizing.

My father Marko was a kind, generous and quirky man that loved being on the land, perhaps a little too much. Dad would either be patiently waiting for fish to bite on the most pristine and picturesque of lakes or he’d be swiftly charging through the bush, using stumps as leverage to jump logs as ferns smacked his legs. He was happiest when he had a pail in each hand, was wearing his dark green backpack tight to his body and moved through the forest with his map tucked away in his mind leading him to a mushroom patch that perhaps no one has ever been to.

On Thursday, Nov. 8, Dad cheerfully left home after looking at pictures and watching videos of his grandchildren with my mom. It was a typical day. And, just like every other mushroom picker, he was eager to get out there to make the most of the last few days of the season. Dad picked pine mushrooms into the afternoon alongside the shoreline of the Lower Campbell, quite possibly one of the loveliest places to take your last breath at. He didn’t come home. He died suddenly.

Our father was happiest when out on the land, breathing in the crisp, clean air while listening to the quiet sounds of nature. He would often tell us he liked being out there because there was no one to bother him – he said it was peaceful, he was never scared and that he felt free. While this may be hard to comprehend and relate to for some, those words will resonate with others who have spent time on the land, working it, respecting it and appreciating all that it provides.

My mother, sister and I want to wholeheartedly thank the Campbell River Search and Rescue Society for locating and bringing my Dad home. People don’t just live on the North Island for the views, they are here for a lifestyle and part of that includes exploring the immense beauty of the environment we are surrounded by. My father wasn’t a stranger to the woods, he was prepared and knew his limits. He died suddenly, yet Search and Rescue was still necessary.

We encourage every resident on the North Island to learn about what the Campbell River Search and Rescue Society does and how to access their services. You just never know when or how they could be the difference makers for you or a loved one. It is in the best interest of our community as a whole to support the training of their team members through financial donations. They need to be at their best, so let’s do our best to support them. The service they provide is vital to life here on the island. Go to www.crsar.ca to learn more and donate.

We would also like to thank Const. Coles and Const. Hobbs of the Campbell River RCMP detachment for their compassion and professionalism during the hardest moments of our lives. Many thanks.

Endless thank yous to Rodney Usipiuk and Harvey Eastabrooks for going out twice to find Dad’s truck, connecting with police, bringing Dad’s truck back into town with our family friend Zvonko Culo, and for helping us work through this difficult time with stories about this other amazing life my dad led as a member of the mushroom picking community.

Our deepest gratitude goes to our beloved family and friends who have fed, held and humoured us during this profoundly difficult time; your support has kept us moving forward. We couldn’t do this without you.

To everyone who may read this, please be purposeful with your life and enjoy the people you are with. Get outside and spend time in nature. And lastly, make an effort to just slow down because life is short, let’s not zoom through it.

Adrian Mrdeza

On behalf of my mother Sandra Robillard and sister Stephanie Mrdeza

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