#52 Ancestors Week 12 - "Misfortune"

I've been putting off writing this week's post. After searching through my family tree to find a subject, I keep coming back to the same person, my brother. It's still hard for me to comprehend the weird and tragic things that happened to him. He was one of the most positive people I know. He was at the happiest point in his life when he died. I also feel strange writing about him because he died with some secrets. One of the most dysfunctional things about my immediate family is that they never discuss anything. It drives me crazy because I am a huge discusser. In her email about this week's prompt, Amy Johnson Crow said, "There is a growing body of study showing that the more that children know about their family's history, the more resilient they are. This is especially true if children hear about the hard times as well as the good times." I am a firm believer in this approach to dealing with the monkey wrenches life throws at you.

My older sibs - Mike on the right

John Michael Park (1952-1998) died from a malignant melanoma when he was 45, 20 years ago this September. Mike was a low maintenance kind of guy, and the melonoma was on his back. He never knew about it because, as he said, "It's not like I check out my ass in the mirror". The mole was continually bleeding when he finally went to the doctor. To make a long story short, the doctor's inept course of treatment was a factor in my brother's death. By the time Mike realized that a stupid mole can kill you, it was too late and the cancer had spread.

I was flabbergasted because I had just gone through treatment for skin cancer. I had a malignant melanoma, the exact same thing,  excised by  Dr. Darrell Rigel . Darrell and his wife Beth were my friends. Our sons were school mates. Thank God, because he saved my life. I was so angry at my brother and my parents for not letting me know Mike's diagnosis sooner. Mind boggling, really. I was a spokesperson for early detection, and had even appeared on TV to talk about it! I could have connected him with the very best doctors in the field.  Getting the proper treatment may of saved his life, we'll never know. Just a quick PSA- click this link-  Be smart about ☀ exposure, please! 
At my sister's wedding

Mike's dying of malignant melanoma was the last straw when it comes to his series of unfortunate life events. In the 70's he married one of my best friend's step sister. They were both free spirited hippy type kids. My friend and I thought they would be perfect for each other, and I guess we were right. After a lovely church wedding, they took off on his motorcycle  to start their married life in Colorado. Welp, within a few years, free spirited Beverly took off. She left him with a table and one place setting; plate, cup, knife, fork and spoon. OH - and a bean bag chair. She took everything else. She literally disappeared. He had to track her down to formalize the divorce! Strike one.

Strike two comes in segments. Again, this is my perception of his life. He eventually remarried. The first time I met his wife, she was very pregnant with their first child. She had two children from a previous marriage. They were living in Olathe, Kansas and I went there to help her get set up for the baby. My brother had become best buds with a guy who grew up in our old neighbourhood. He was also living in Kansas. I think he was more my friend than his growing up, but I digress. Tim (McCarthy) picked me up from the airport. My brother was a long distance mover. He was out of town on a job, but expected back for the impending birth. On the way to my brother's house Tim proceeds to tell me what a nightmare person Mike's new wife was. She constantly nagged him, put him down, and did nothing for him. Great! This was going to be a long two weeks. True to form, she hounded my brother so badly that one day I let her have it. I asked her quit her non stop complaining during the brief time I was there, because she was ruining my trip. She was being obnoxious. Sorry, but there it is. He married a she devil, in my opinion 😉 Ultimately we got along, and she could be very funny. She went way past her due date, and the baby wasn't born during my stay. I helped her get the baby's room prepared, but I couldn't extend my trip. I would never get to meet my niece, and I would never see Vicki again.

On December 23, 1986 Vicki Jane Park (9/4/54 - 12/23/86) and her baby daughter, Eliza Michelle Park (10/2/84 - 12/23/86) were killed in a house fire. It was the day before Christmas Eve. Mike, Vicki and baby Eliza had gone to bed. The two older kids were at their father's house, thank goodness. It was an arson fire set in the middle of the night. I don't want to get into the details, but the psychopath who was responsible is in jail. Law enforcement couldn't pin the arson on him, but he was a career criminal. They were able to arrest him, take him to trial and get a conviction for one of his other crimes. There was closure, but my brother's life was shattered. On top of losing his home and family, he was the first suspect! This is standard procedure, but you can't imagine how devastating it is to be questioned after losing everything you hold dear. You see it on TV. The spouse is always the first suspect. It is really scary when it happens in real life.

That's enough misfortune for one life isn't it? Nope, he gets CANCER and dies. Strike three and you're out😢. Fortunately, the last 13 years of his life were the best. Mike became very close with a sweet, loving woman who had been a friend of Vicki's originally. She helped mend his broken heart, and I'm forever grateful that she came into his life. They were so good together. She also had the most adorable, funny, "grown up" two year old daughter. I'm not going to mention names. Mike married this woman and adopted her daughter. She was the apple of his eye. A couple of years later they had a son, and their family was complete. They were a super duper family unit. It was always great fun when we spent time together.

He loved the little girl so much that he never told her he wasn't her biological dad. It makes no difference at all, but everyone needs to know their truth. I brought it up when visiting him towards the end, and he changed the subject. I don't know if they ever told her. Secrets. My niece and I are still in touch. She's married and has two beautiful kids of her own. It's just awkward now, but eventually I will clear the air and find out if she knows. Being raised in a family where unpleasant or difficult topics are simply brushed under the table, it's hard to bring up. It's like going against the code. Mike's family went through some very tough times, but they came out the other side OK. We all agree that he would have been an amazing grandpa. 👴

So... wear sunscreen and try to live in truth.

John Michael Park 
10/8/52 - 09/17/98

"There are no goodbyes. Where ever you'll be, you'll be in my heart." Ghandi

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