Obituary of Tracy Malcolm Greene
December 30, 1956 - June 6, 2020
BEAUTY FOR ASHES
“…to comfort all that mourn . . . to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion; to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; . . . that HE might be glorified.”
(Isaiah 61:3 KJV)
The morning of Saturday, June 6, 2020 sprang forth with Spring-like delights of birdsong and water fountains in the gardens of McNally House Hospice in Grimsby, Ontario. While this day was birthing, Tracy Greene’s earth life of 63 years was slowly ebbing away and at 1:35 p.m., he breathed his first breath of Heaven’s pristine air and came to the Lord Jesus. With him, near his side were his wife, Virginia (Alfieri) Greene and daughter, Angela (Greene) Dempsey; Angela had been playing her father’s favourite hymns on an electric piano; Tracy quietly slipped away to the tone of our soft voices and the sweet notes flowing over him.
The first born to Malcolm and Mary Camilla (nee: Lavigne) Greene, Tracy had 6 full blood siblings: Holly, Shane, Trent, John, Tammy and Shonda. At a later time, 3 other half siblings came along: Beverley,
Bethanie and Andrew (children of Mary Camilla Greene and Beverley Tatton); all were born on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, the “Queen of the Fundy Isles”. Due to very unfortunate circumstances and
events, these children did not have the privilege of growing up together as close siblings and foster care and adoption became their next phase of life.
Tracy, being the eldest, felt this separation deeply as he witnessed a number of his siblings being sent in different directions. Not wanting this same fate for himself, he set out, at age 14, to find his lost siblings and be with them again. He ran away, somehow boarding the ferry undetected and, upon reaching the mainland, headed up towards the Trans Canada. When he reached this point he had to make a choice – go right towards Saint John or left towards . . . well, he didn’t know where. A group of boys were in a cluster on the highway the Saint John’s way, so Tracy decided to go left and he began walking. He had no money, water, food . . . just his ice skates, an extra shirt, pants, socks, a light jacket and his hockey cards. Where were his siblings? He didn’t know but he just kept walking. It was April and cold. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, a car pulled up beside him and a lady called: “Goin’ into town?” Tracy had no idea which town she meant but he was shivering and tired, so he nodded “yes”, got in and was driven into the little town of St. George.
Since the lady had been nice, Tracy assumed that maybe the town was also a nice place so he felt better after he was dropped off – but, now where to go. Were his siblings in St. George? He seemed to remember there was a “St.” in front of the name of the town they had gone when he had overheard conversations back on the Island. So, he started walking again, becoming very tired and hungry. He spied a water tower on a hill so climbed up and began to try to settle himself in to sleeping at the bottom of it and figure things out in the morning. He couldn’t go another step.
And this is when his first miracle happened. As he was huddling into his jacket to keep warm, he saw a bonfire at the bottom of the other side of the hill and people around it roasting hot dogs. Shyly, but with hunger driving him, he made his way down to the fire. The people accepted him readily and shared their bounty. Yet a certain young boy in the crowd was fascinated by this “Huck Finn” character and began asking curious questions, as only a young “Tom Sawyerish” boy can. This young boy’s name was Billy Wentworth, a friendly kid who thought Tracy was on a fantastic adventure yet also sensed he probably needed some help. After all, this strange run a way boy was actually going to sleep under the town’s water tower! He knew he had to tell his parents. Off he ran home, which was not too far away, and told his parents of this vagabond boy out by the fire. Immediately, his parents, instructed Billy to bring this boy home. These “angels” had the names of Norman and Marguerite Wentworth. Though daughter, Nancy, was a bit unsure, Tracy was brought into their home; he stayed 3 years, the happiest of his life at that time, with 2 wonderful people who became his foster parents and Billy and Nancy, his foster brother and sister. He laid in a bed that night, clean, warm, dry and fed; sheltered and cared about . . . yes . . . his first miracle.
Yet, despite these wonderful years and his great love for his new family, he began to miss his mother and the island. In the three years, he had discovered the whereabouts of his three brothers, Shane, Trent and John (in foster care in St. Stephen) and his sister Holly (with relatives in Grand Bay, near West Saint John) and his young sister Tammy had been adopted by Tracy’s very own Foster Family – the Wentworths. Only his baby sister, Shonda, remained on the island, adopted by a lovely woman named Phyllis Thompson. At 17, Tracy felt the pull to return to the island and so he did; since his mother was with Beverley Tatton at this time, Tracy was taken in by his aunt Elsie and her husband, Royce Brown of Grand Harbour. Thus, Tracy embarked on another season of good years, feeling at home and welcome, finishing high school and working at summer jobs.
It was some pretty young girls in a Christian Singing Group from a Bible School in Pennsylvania that began to lure Tracy to lands beyond; he not only visited his new found friends in this State, but also became close to a Pastor on Grand Manan who was moving to St. Catharines, Ontario to take a Church there. Tracy was invited to go along and live with them, and so he did; thus, he came to Ontario. He was 19. It was 1976.
After living with the Pastor friend and family for a while, he had acquired a job at the Ontario Paper and Pulp Company in Thorold, Ontario; there, he met a gregarious Frenchman who insisted he come live with him and his family; leaving the Pastor and his family with no hard feelings, Tracy did move into the basement of this new family in St. Catharines and thus began a life long relationship. However, on an exploratory trip down the old Number 8 in his car (he was able to afford one now that he had a pretty good job), he discovered a grassroots, drop in centre in downtown Beamsville called “The Turning Point”. The giant wooden cross over the front door was a welcomed symbol as Tracy had Sunday School and Church roots on the Island and during his years in St. George. He entered through the front doors and found a room full of mostly young people listening to a band on a little makeshift stage in the corner of the little storefront. Coffee was brewing in another corner beside plates full of homemade baking. Tracy helped himself, took a seat, surveyed the room, people and band and felt an immediate kinship to the place. It became a regular stop on Friday and Saturday nights; here he met many wonderful friends and enjoyed years of friendship and fellowship, not only with the youth but with their families as well. Within the following years, he enjoyed even nicer cars, motorcycles, dogs, many trips home to the Island and elsewhere in North America and girls; many he dated and two of which he married. His first marriage was to a young Turning Point girl, yet this union lasted only 14 months or so and ended in a divorce in 1983 when Tracy was 26.
Time moved along and changes came; Tracy still had his great job at the Paper Mill and now, his own apartment in Vineland, Ontario, just a hop, skip and a jump from Beamsville. Yet, the Turning Point had also changed, and one sultry summer day in late August of 1985, Tracy decided to visit the old place again and see what was happening there. He entered the front doors to find two offices on either side and a large room further in that looked nothing like it did back in the ‘old days’; that ‘drop – in’ feeling was absent . . . As he stepped inside, a young girl emerged from the left hand office and asked: “May I help you?” Funny how a second in time and an innocent question can change the course of one’s life on a pin! Tracy gave a sideways glance as he leaned against the door, his red cap jauntily resting over one of his sparkling eyes. “This place looks like a lawyer’s office!” he exclaimed as he suddenly stepped forward and pushed through the doors into the larger room to the back. The young girl, a bit alarmed, as she was the receptionist and responsible for who comes into the establishment and for what reason, quickly followed; but Tracy would not be stopped as he surveyed the room, perhaps remembering his first visit there years earlier. The girl proceeded to ask him questions and in no time, the two were both reminiscing of their memories of the early Turning Point days, as she had first discovered the street front ministry in 1975. A tiny link had been forged which grew and strengthened into a friendship, relationship and marriage of 31 years. (I, this writer, was that second girl Tracy married).
Tracy Malcolm Greene (32) married Miss Virginia Gay Alfieri (32) on Saturday, May 20, 1989 in Dunnville, Ontario, the hometown of his wife. Honeymoon destination? Grand Manan Island of course! And then back to their apartment in Kitchener, Ontario where Tracy worked as a bricklayer and other miscellaneous employment. Their one and only child was born on May 5, 1990, at the Kitchener – Waterloo Hospital; a sweet daughter, Angela Danielle Patricia, the joy of their lives. Soon, their life’s journey took them to live in a few places: Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick (1990 – 1993), Beamsville, Ontario (1993 – 1998), Dunnville, Ontario (1998 – present date). Tracy and Virginia lived in 3 residences in Dunnville in these 21 years: their own home on Lock Street West for 16 years, an apartment on Church Street for 2 and ½ years and then the house next door to the apartment (which was Virginia’s childhood home since 1961) – 407 Church Street. This was Tracy’s address for the last 4 years of his life. Within these years noted above, our daughter Angela married Peter Charles Dempsey on April 28, 2012 and moved into her own home, thankfully close by, on the outskirts of Dunnville. Tracy worked at several jobs and careers. When on the Island, he was employed in various aspects of the fishing industry as well as bricklaying. In Ontario, along with masonry, he became a professional transport driver - owner operator, driving all over North America. His last career was becoming a PSW, a work he loved, was better suited for and kept him closer to home, serving in both nursing home and private home care settings. He did this work right up to the time of the beginning of his illness in 2016.
In these last 4 years, within the looming poor health, Tracy was able to love and enjoy his dear daughter, Angela and 2 darling granddaughters, Rebekah Elizabeth (January 9, 2014) and Kalyn Nicole (July 1, 2017), delights of his life. In these struggling years, Tracy (along with Virginia) tried to work, delivering ads for over a year, but the manifestations of diabetes began to accelerate and soon dialysis became part of his life, thereby inhibiting not only work but the wonderful summer holidays to “his island” as the dialysis treatments were 3 times a week, taking up most of those days, due to the transportation from Dunnville to Hamilton and back. They were tough years. Within these years, there were myriad work up tests, appointments, procedures, etc. . . . endless trips to doctors and labs; a 3 way heart bypass and 2 cataract surgeries were accomplished along the way; an alarming toe ulceration and a terrible fall resulting in very painful rotator cuff syndrome dominated 2019 until finally, a kidney became available; the transplant took place on October 7, 2019. At last, we were on the last quarter mile of our long race! Tracy just had to recover well from his transplant, do the blood work, take the anti-rejection medications, get strong and we were assured that by the summer of 2020, he would be strong and well enough to enjoy a deeply desired, long awaited holiday on Grand Manan. We were going to go back to the “Island” for a long stay and rest, brush the cobwebs of the last 4 years away and talk about what we would do next. It was a lovely dream.
2020 seemed to begin well. Tracy was becoming stronger and his blood work was good. The Post Transplant Team at St. Joe’s seemed pleased. But a cold set in upon Tracy in late January; by February, he was not getting over it very well and a strange, throbbing pain began to wrack the left side of his head – unbearable at times. There was a burning behind his left eye and the pain would come in spasms that would cause
him to cry out. Two ER visits and a CAT scan resulted in being sent home with stronger and stronger pain pills until the night of March 11, when he could no longer stand up and could hardly bear the pain; the paramedics were called and Tracy left 407 Church Street. I (this writer) watched the ambulance drive away before preparing to follow in my car, not realizing Tracy was leaving the house forever. He was rushed to St. Joe’s in the early hours of March 12 where an emergency operation was done to attempt to eradicate the already invasive fungal infection that had viciously spread throughout his sinuses, upper palate, behind his left eye and even back to the base of his brain. The name for this brutal enemy was murcomycosis, a very rare and deadly fungal infection that is usually fatal unless caught in time. Though, for the next 75 days in St. Joe’s, the medical staff tried their best to debride the fungus and, with many medications (antibiotics and antifungals), the infection had, in fact, spread into Tracy’s brain; a place they could not operate. It was during this
terrible ordeal that a world wide horror was also going on – Covid 19 – the lockdown beginning almost the same time Tracy went into the hospital. This made the already dreadful situation magnified a thousand fold. In the 75 days Tracy was in St. Joe’s, I was allowed in 4 times, 3 hours at a time, for which I was grateful – yet – oh how horrendous it was for Tracy there alone in his bed, and me, alone at home, so helpless and not able to even be by his side. These days, as I remember them, are unspeakable.
When the doctors at St. Joe’s concluded that they could no longer help Tracy, the next step had to be decided. Since his care now was so great, I could not bring him home. The only thing left was a hospice. With the medical staff’s assistance, McNally House Hospice in Grimsby, Ontario was chosen and it was here, that Tracy lived out the last 23 days of his life. With the quietness and privacy of the hospice, the sounds of flowing water and birdsong, the pretty gardens outside the window, fresh air streaming in through the patio screen and the gentle care of the palliative care nurses, these last days were as good as they could be, under the circumstances; yet they were painful, not so much in a physical sense but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. These three took a physical toll. To express the fathoms of diverse thoughts, feelings, words and prayers of those seconds of those 23 days is impossible. Only the Lord Father God can know the depths. Much prayer rose up within those walls, much oil poured, the prayer cloth applied, hymns were sung, worship offered and millions of tears fell . . . yet,
Saturday, June 6, at 1:35 p.m. was Tracy’s “Heaven Day” . . . his “Heaven Moment” . . . and his spirit slipped away to God with Angela and myself (Virginia) at his side. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15 KJV)
Tracy is pre-deceased by his brother Shane Greene (April 2, 1998), sister Holly McKeown (November 6, 2012), father Malcolm Greene (January 25, 2006), mother Mary Camilla Brown (May 2, 2018), aunt Hannah Mullen (March 2019), aunt Daphne Foote (2018), step-father Royce Brown (2003), uncle Cleary Lavigne (date unknown) and nephew Joey McKeown (July 22, 2008).
A small “Covid style” Memorial/Farewell Service was held in honour of Tracy on the evening of Monday, June 8, 2020 at “Essentials” in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Ten friends and family assembled to celebrate, reminisce and respect the life of dear Tracy. Pastor Don Middlemiss of Orchard Creek Community Church in Thorold, Ontario, a long-time friend of Tracy, gave a magnificent homily, not only remembering Tracy but also giving a powerful message of Christ; His love and salvation to us. To have Don to conduct the Service was at Tracy’s request and I am so thankful Don did so. Other participants to speak were Pastor Peter Dempsey of Dunnville First Baptist Church, Dunnville, Ontario, and friend Wes Beach, formally of the ‘White Dove Prayer Centre’ where he and Tracy first met in 2016. Both shared thoughts and memories of Tracy. Most poignant, was the exquisite music of Tracy’s (our) daughter, Angela Dempsey. Having brought her electric piano, she led our small gathering in 2 congregational hymns: “In Christ Alone” and “10,000 Reasons”; as well, she sang and played 2 songs, as a special tribute to her father: “Oceans” and “Create In Me A Clean Heart” (Tracy’s favourite Keith Green song). I (Virginia) spoke his eulogy entitled “Mending Broken Things”, read the lyrics of
a lovely old hymn, “Breathe On Me Breath Of God” and read a poem I had written for Tracy years ago entitled “A Love Poem Of The Sea” (A Prose For Tracy).
Angel Friends, Susan Anderson and Judy Meadows Robison, spread the “ambiance of Tracy” into the scene by placing his nautical art around the room; a painting of the Swallowtail Lighthouse on Grand Manan (painted by both Tracy and Angela together years earlier) and a hand build model sailboat (Tracy had built many of these through the years and also had done many paintings). It gave the “touch of the sea . . . an island feeling”. Along with the small buffet the girls provided as well, (Essentials” providing the hot beverages, soft drinks and water), a meaningful time of fellowship followed; a fitting and respectful ending to the time of honouring Tracy and bidding “farewell”.
In closing of this long epistle, I would like to thank the Owner and Staff of “Essentials Cremation and Burial Service” for their most excellent service, professionalism, care and compassion during our (my daughter Angela’s and my) time of mourning of our father and husband. Their setting and ambiance is one of beauty, soft colours, light and peace and their assistance in all aspects of this difficult process is superior. My deepest thanks to you all.
(Mrs.) Virginia Greene (Mrs.) Angela Dempsey
A LOVE POEM OF THE SEA
A Prose for Tracy
By Virginia Alfieri Greene
With the cool mist and tide
Stealing up the Bay
And the lonely call of seagulls
Heralding the day
And the mournful cry of lighthouses
Warning from the shore
And the ever-faithful ferry blows
As she rounds the point once more
In all this morning magic
I see images of you
Drifting in with island breezes
And falling with the dew
I feel the love you cherish
And keep treasured for this place
And I feel my own heart pining
For a piece of you . . . a trace
Just some small remnant of your soul
That you might keep saved just for me
In all this marine beauty
In the strong call of the sea
For I love you like the ocean
With its deep, fierce, loyal tides
And I wish us to be forever
As long as wind and sea abide
There are no upcoming public services scheduled or the service has occurred in the past.
Write a Condolence
You can post a condolence to the family below (up to 200 words). To add a photo, click on the camera icon. If you plan on making a donation, please notify the family by posting your intent in a condolence.
The family of Tracy Malcolm Greene would like you to consider placing a donation to one of the following charities:
Mucormycosis Research - Henry Schueler 41 & 9 Foundation
Note: If you make a donation, please notify the family by posting a condolence.