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    The Memory of Gene S. Park

    Back in 2016, when Donald Trump was on the verge of being elected, I lived with Gene S. Park in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

    Park was already an old man by that time. He had diabetes bad and experienced a lot of pain. When the Pulse nightclub shooting occurred on June 12, 2016 occurred, he was visibly upset, as was I. He became mean and vindictive at my fear and panicking, insulting me using ableist language. 

    I left his house prematurely, without completing the month I had paid in rent. You think he would never want to hear from me again but he contacted me to help him with his computer 2 months later.

    In the midst of it, however, he sat me down at one point.

    "Michael, have a seat." I did so, thinking that it would be another round of insults.

    "What is it?" I said.

    "Do you think America is in some kind of social war?" he responded.

    The question was deft and accurate. Gene was gay and he succinctly articulated what was going on. He was struggling to put words together.

    "We are all soldiers in this war. You are, Elliot is, I am." He was referring to someone I knew in Portland named Elliot. 

    I thought of him after the Chauvin verdict. He would undoubtedly be pleased by the result. 

    Park died in his sleep in 2019 and the love for him can be seen on his profile page on Facebook: 

    Sadly Gene passed away Monday October 7,2019. He went peacefully in his sleep. His ashes will be scattered into the Spokane River at the same spot his beloved Ron was scattered five years ago. He had been working on a book of artwork and poetry which will be published Posthumously with any proceeds from sales being donated to Folktime.org. In lieu of flowers or cards the family also asks that any monies be directed to Folktime.org. In the final four years of his life Folktime peer services were his main connection to the outside world.


    Additionally: When I was with Gene, there was a point when I was eating a candy that looked delicious to him. I knew he had Diabetes and I wasn't sure it was a good idea but I gave him some and he had it anyways. He leaned in on himself and said "oh fuck." When I asked if he was all right, he said "yes" and that it wasn't my fault. He avoided expressing how upset he was and that was likely part of why it was so ugly when he finally did. 

    Slightly before I left, he told me that he thought he had Alzheimer's. He was simply in a lot of pain - hence the mood swings. 

    There's not a lot of mention of him out there. When you look his name up now, this post shows up. I hope that helps in some way.


    We were both, ironically, struggling to get along with older roommates dealing with their own health issues. It's great to remember that you  re-connected with Gene, whom I felt was, in essence, a cool guy. I feel some regret for not keeping in touch with him as I intended, but as painful as regret it, its crucial in reminding us what we really value. Thanks for this friend, you come to my thoughts perhaps more than you realize.


    Wow, Elliot, I really didn't expect this one. 

    Gene's insults came in between some really stellar conversations that I have a tough time forgetting. He thought we were headed to civil war. He also called me "a survivor" and, when his dog licked me, said "she's a good judge of character."

    Take care, my friend. I miss you. I will see you and check on you the next time that I am in Portland.

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