The two children who weren’t home when a family of four died last weekend of carbon monoxide poisoning are serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sister Jensen Parrish was teaching in sign language in the Vancouver Washington Mission. Elder Ian Parrish was in the South Dakota Rapid City mission.
They’re home getting ready for the family’s funeral. When KPVI spoke to them Thursday morning, they took a light moment to describe the unique nature of their dad’s laughter. It was silent yet active.
And Ian and Jensen they smiled anytime they talked about mom, dad, or two brothers.
“My mom was so giving,” Jensen said describing her mom.
“He had a sense of humor. He wanted to be different from people. Not to show off but to let them know that he is a different person” Ian said in describing 14-year-old brother Keegan.
“My little brother Liam, he was the youngest one, he was so witty. He didn’t realize it but he was,” Jensen added.
For two young adults who just lost their parent and siblings, their resolve is clear and evident. That strength is drawn from a deep well of faith: their own faith and the faith of their family.
“There’s more to life than life. There’s more to this than this little earth that we all live on. There’s more to it,” Jensen said.
“Right now part of this experience is that it’s time for me to recognize how meaningful the family really is,” Ian added.
Parents leave such a lasting impression on their children. Those impressions can be negative. But for Jensen and Ian, their parents gave them probably one of the greatest gifts a parent can give: the gift of self-worth. For Ian his dad made him feel like he was worth more than Ian thought he was.
“I remember growing up if I didn’t do well in school, like if I got a C on a test, my dad would be mad. I would say, ‘Dad, that test was hard.’ But he said you’re more than that. I know you can do better than that.”
Jensen also received that gift of self-worth. During the insecure years of junior high, Bill Parrish explained that the world might have a distorted view of his daughter, like looking in a fun house mirror.
“Then he pointed at my mirror and said, ‘When you look in that mirror you’re exactly who you are and that’s how your Father in Heaven sees you. And I will never forget that. That helped me through so much in my life,” Jensen said.
Grief has overwhelmed so many in the days since learning what happened inside this home. But the comfort that can be taken from Jensen and Ian is that their outlook sees much farther than a faulty water heater.
“This hard moment is a growing moment. That’s the bottom line. It is what is necessary for me at this time. The reason for that, I don’t know. But it’s what I need and that’s what has helped me through it,” said Ian.
“Knowing the love they had for other people, that is how we’re going to have to do it. I know that love comes from their love for the Gospel and for the plan that our Father in Heaven has for us. I know that because they believed it so much and so strongly that they lived it through their love and that’s what we’re going to have to do and that’s what we’re trying to do. And it has helped,” Jensen said.
Funeral services for Bill, Ross, Keegan and Liam are scheduled for Friday at noon at one of the LDS Church building above Bartz Field on the ISU campus.
As for returning to their missions Ian and Jensen haven’t decided if they are going back. Not surprising, they say they will make that decision based on faith.