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Father Details Daughter's Heroin Addiction In Obituary


The first thing you notice in the obituary for Molly Alice Parks is her photo. She's young, bright red lipstick; her hair streaked with pink and teal. Molly Parks died last Thursday in Manchester, N.H. She was 24. And what's most remarkable in that obituary is her family's candor in revealing how she died - a heroin overdose. We reached Molly's father, Tom Parks, at his home in Saco, Maine, today to talk about that decision to go public with her cause of death and her history of addiction. We began by talking about Molly's passions - reading, playing the piano and drawing, especially gowns.

TOM PARKS: She played dress up her whole life. I mean, she'd go to thrift shops and find nice dresses, get them for nothing and her and her friends would dress even if they stayed in the house. She never lost her passion for anything, though, believe it or not. I mean, you'd think that addicts withdraw completely into themselves, and that wasn't Molly. She loved her friends. She loved us. She loved life; just the addiction was too much. She just - she couldn't fight it off. And a friend of hers told us that when she got out of the last rehab, when she was - the third one in eight months - that she wasn't out for a week-and-a-half or so, two weeks, and her dealer was calling her, texting her, bugging her; you know, I always thought she was a strong kid, but she wasn't that strong.

BLOCK: When it came time to write the obituary for your daughter - for Molly - how did you decide to go public with the cause being a heroin overdose?

PARKS: Well, I read papers. I'm old school enough so that I still read paper-papers. And I've seen a lot of obituaries, and you see 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-somethings and they all have sudden deaths, but that doesn't really happen to 20 and 30 and 40-somethings. There's no sudden death for them. It's either suicide - and I understand people don't want to put that or drug, you know, overdoses. And for the life of me I can't figure out why somebody wouldn't want to put that in an obituary because if you just keep sweeping it under the carpet, nobody is going to figure it out

BLOCK: The idea being that by being open about it, by being public about it, not sweeping it under the carpet as you put it, that it would help other people. It would help with this...

PARKS: That's what I was hoping. It would help somebody, somewhere. One person, that's all we wanted, and that's what we talked about. If it helps one person to see that somebody else died of the same thing then the answer - it'll take care of things, you know what I mean?

BLOCK: I've been looking through your Facebook page, Mr. Parks, and was really struck by what you posted, I think, the morning after you found out that Molly had died. You said she tried to fight addiction in her own way and last night her fight came to an end in a bathroom of a restaurant with a needle of heroin. And I think this was the restaurant where she was working at the time.

PARKS: It was. It took me an hour to write that, and it's not that long. But the reason that it was hard to write was 'cause I couldn't see the screen or the keyboard 'cause I was crying so hard. After I had written it, I was kind of happy with the way it read 'cause I knew that it was the truth. I didn't want to be - I didn't want to hide behind a cloak of, you know, sudden-death. I wanted it to be transparent and blunt. People need to know there's an epidemic. It's rampant. People are getting a hold of heroin and they're dying regularly.

BLOCK: As you saw Molly struggle over the years with addiction, in and out of rehab several times, another near fatal overdose before, did she talk to you about it? I mean, what did you - what did you try to tell her to help her through this?

PARKS: We tried everything. I mean, we tried being nice. We tried being mean. We tried withholding. We tried giving extra, you know what I mean? It - when it's your own child, you're going to try anything you can to get them better. She knew that we knew, you know what I mean? And she wouldn't come out and say oh, yeah, I've been using all week. I mean - but if you asked her straight out, she'd say, well, I've been trying my best, and she knew she had an addiction. She knew she was struggling. And, you know, I don't know if you know anybody or whatever, if you've - anybody who has anybody that's ever dealt with it, but it's an addiction that has a pretty strong hold on people. I mean, you go from being a person that can live every day without it and then all of a sudden, you know, you need it.

BLOCK: Well, Mr. Parks, thank you so much for talking with us and for telling us about your daughter, Molly.

PARKS: Thank you very much.

BLOCK: That's Tom Parks of the Saco, Maine. We were talking about his daughter, Molly Parks, who died last Thursday of a heroin overdose. She was 24 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.