This year, Mother’s Day in Santa Rosa County was tragic indeed. Two mothers lost their lives in equally tragic ways and both allegedly by the hands of their own child. It is every parent’s worst nightmare.
For Karen Passmore, who died while under her 22-year-old daughter’s care, there is no explaining the lack of attention or the conditions in which she was found. Karen had been disabled since giving birth to her daughter, Jackie. Just in the last few years, Jackie had assumed responsibility for her care. The story is sad on many levels. To be fair, according to the police report, Jackie had reached out for help on two occasions; once to a Department of Children and Families case worker who provided her with resources, diapers and a supplement drink and once when she took her mother to the emergency room, concerned about her weight loss. It is just very difficult to make any sense of the conditions in which she was found, however. Her skin was eaten away by infections from pressure sores; her bedroom was filled with bugs and trash and the deputy said it smelled like rotting flesh. She weighed only 58 pounds. Incredibly sad for anyone let alone your mom to live and die in those conditions.
Cheryl Lynch was by all accounts her son Christopher’s biggest advocate. In 2000, he suffered a traumatic brain injury from a 26-foot fall during military training while in France. Cheryl learned quickly that she would be a care provider for her son while he rehabilitated and then she would become an advocate for him and many others who were finding their way through the maze known as the VA. She passionately testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs telling them Christopher’s story and her struggle to get consistent medical care for him. She had to educate herself on his condition, the treatments available and even how to get the VA to approve the treatments. Certainly she was a mom who loved her son and made huge sacrifices in her own life to ensure he was treated, taken care of and most of all loved. And yet, in the early morning hours of the very day meant to honor her, Christopher raised a steel rod with a hook on the end of it and beat her. She died, and any hope of treatment for Christopher died with her. All of the advocacy she initiated on his behalf to ensure he could live a fulfilled life was for naught.
Two moms who deserved very different outcomes in their lives. Things don’t always go the way they should; the good guys don’t always win and sometimes the good die young. It’s just heartbreaking when the child they loved and lived for ended their life.
As a community, we can do our part to be better neighbors, friends and even family members. We can’t prevent the unpreventable, but we can notice when things may be going wrong for someone. We can reach out to them, we can be more watchful of what goes on around us. And you never know what impact your small gesture might have on a sequence of events set in motion. It might just prevent a tragedy.