A road trip born of love
Editor’s Note – This is a story about Jesse Parks, a resident of the Rocky Fork Lake area, and how his family decided to turn the tragedy of his overdose death into something positive. It was written in the first person by Jeff Parks, one of Jesse’s uncles.
We’ve always fallen in love with Jesse’s disarming and pleasant social skills. He would often weave his way into a room with a wry grin and downright dashing good looks, and in a million years, you’d never understand that our Jesse has essentially “come up the hill” his whole life.
Jesse’s “details” reveal too short a life. Born in early 1981 and died the last night of 2016. There is nothing pretty about his death – someone sold him street drugs that were not what he intended to. use. They were mixed with Fentanyl and he did what he does and he stopped his heart for good.
We want people to know that Jesse had a good heart, a difficult life, an unhappy and terrible demise. And we as a family suffer, like too many of our American brothers and sisters.
Jesse was diagnosed at 16 with complex mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, and it only added up because he previously had significant learning disabilities.
There are many ways to peer into the lives of other people, but here we just want people to know about some of Jesse’s challenges, as they are unfortunately so common among all of us these days.
Like the day his mother watched her son strangely appear in front of the refrigerator, grabbed an open bottle of wine and started drinking it, something he had never done before.
When asked, he simply said, “I just want to change how I feel. “
A key part of all the time Jesse spent with us was just that – battling both prescription and street drugs – and sometimes the doctor’s orders produced imbalances and erratic results that neither of us did. would not wish our children.
Jesse grew up in St. Louis, and his mother remembers that on four or five occasions she had sunk deep into her heart when she discovered that her son had walked and walked and walked, to the point that his feet were swollen, and all the while without any destination and without the possibility of stopping “walking uphill”.
Like many young American men, Jesse was also drawn to guns and we chose to disarm him over and over again – four or five guns, several large knives – because we knew that while Jesse was not violent among us, this is a known by-product of his challenged “toolkit”.
And about this toolkit… One of the things that doesn’t always come to light in reflections on the challenges of anyone struggling with mental health issues is that it is constantly presented with a world. for those of us with fully functional toolkits, and routinely expected to keep when it’s not as simple as one might hope. In Jesse’s world that meant a lot of criticism, a lot of “what were you thinking?” “A lot of” keep going! He never carried a sign saying, “I’m not equipped like you.” Be advised. “
We all have memories of interacting with Jesse as we expected him to “go with the beat” when it really wasn’t his option. They’re painful now that he’s gone and we deal with our failures with Jesse as they come back to memory every now and then.
At one point, facing our frustrations, we came up with a plan. Jesse had always been good with food. In our family we do occasional food preparations and Jesse won the very first one we had. He was also good at grilling. When Jesse had a full grill of chicken wings you didn’t want to run out.
So we decided to build him a food truck, and he would take care of any part of the operation that suited him and finally he would have a way to support himself for the future.
The truck was a special gift to Jesse from his mother, Laura Parks, and no expense was spared. It was a mobile creperie, with crushed ice, coffee, and smoothies, and we were all thrilled to see him finally driving the big blue food truck through the streets and highways of Los Angeles, California.
But the scenario we were hoping for just didn’t work. While battling mental health issues, Jesse turned to street drugs as well, and it was revealed to us in unfortunate times and instances that Jesse’s issues worsened over time. It is a very common story among young men diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
To sum up, the truck was finally pulled out of Los Angeles, Jesse moved to the Rocky Fork Lake area with the family, and then we lost him forever.
So her mother is in mourning. Her family is in mourning. Her daughter, now 11, grows up without her father.
As Americans, aren’t we all grieving today? Half a million deaths from COVID-19, police shootings, police shootings, the list goes on.
So what are you doing? Because the answer isn’t to crawl in a ball and hide.
In our case, we have found a way to deal with our grief. Jesse’s truck needed a new house, a new job, and we ultimately decided not to sell it but give it to someone somewhere who would give Jesse’s truck a proper mission.
We happened to catch a story on NBC News with Lester Holt about the Lucille1913 organization in Houston, Texas, about the efforts of two brothers who have delivered over 200,000 free meals in a crisis. When approached, Jesse’s mother investigated and immediately agreed that this would be the new home for Jesse’s truck. Her brothers drove the truck from South Ohio to Houston – a road trip born from the love of family, the love of a grieving mother, the love of Jesse.
Editor’s Note – The truck was driven to Houston in April by Jesse’s uncles, Jeff and John Parks, and delivered to another person struggling with mental health issues. A story about the truck recently aired on NBS News with Lester Holt. The story can be found on Youtube.
Here’s a photo of the truck Jeff and John Parks drove from the Rocky Fork Lake area of Texas to help someone with mental illness.
Jesse Parks is pictured before his death in 2016 at the age of 35.