To the outside world, their relationship sounds like a fairytale. Brandon resident Missy Parker, a teacher at Northwest Rankin Middle School, and Clinton native Ross Parker, a Mississippi College grad who had worked for Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. more than 20 years, met four years ago while serving in Pinelake church’s singles ministry.
They dated two years and were married Oct. 16, 2010, becoming a blended family with four children.
“We lived a marriage of serving one another,” said Missy Parker. “Every morning, for a year and nine months, we woke up and read the Bible together. We would then discuss the verses and try to figure out how they were speaking to us. Together, we were obedient to God.”
The two had made a commitment to one another before they married. They began each day with words of affirmation and admiration for each other.
“We promised to serve one another first, and then to think of ourselves second,” Parker said. “We spoiled one another rotten. We would have been honeymooning for 50 years if we would have had that amount of time together.”
Ross Parker had been a Boy Scout leader for more than 15 years, starting with his son, Kyle. After Kyle became an Eagle Scout, Ross continued leading Troop 416.
He was involved with Habitat for Humanity, led a Divorce Care program at church with Missy, and would sometimes anonymously help others.
“He’d fix something for someone, and they’d not even know it,” she said.
It was an adventure Ross had been preparing for more than a year by training and exercising right.
Missy received several texts from Ross throughout the trip. On Monday, July 2, he called to say: “Honey, I was just wanting to tell you that we’ve made it and are about to get out on our trail. This will be the last time we get to talk, and I want you to know how much I love you and am going to miss you.”
“That was it — the last time we spoke,” said Missy, “and that conversation was about 26 seconds. I know because I looked back at that date and time on my cell phone. Oh, how I wish for more time.”
That evening, around 11:56 p.m., there was a knock at Missy’s door. She greeted three Scout leaders, who told her the troop had made it 10,000 feet up a mountain in New Mexico earlier that day.
Ross had embraced the day and the landscape. But as he walked with the group, he suddenly made a noise and fell back into the arms of one of the leaders.
“The doctor’s called it a collapsed valve or major heart attack,” Missy said. “He had no pre-existing condition, and his last health check was outstanding. His cholesterol was great, blood pressure, everything.
I think this is why it’s been so difficult to understand and grasp some days.
“CPR was started immediately, but doctor’s have reassured me that had Ross even been in an emergency room when this happened, there would have been no recovery.
“Several people told me that he did take three very shallow breaths on his own when one of the scout leaders started calling out mine and all of our children’s names to him. That was it. He was gone to be with God.”
Due to the terrain, it took the recovery team until around noon the following day to retrieve Ross, 47, and come down from the mountain.
“I have good moments, good days, even. And then I have the bad, really terrible days,” Missy said. “There is no rhyme or reason how these will come or in what form. But what matters is that God is always good and always supplies comfort and relief when I call on Him.”
Shortly after the tragedy, Missy broke down, depressed and sobbing.
“I was begging God, ‘Please, please, please. Won’t you just let me hear from my Ross? Even one word? That’s all I need, God!’
“In the back of my mind, I kept saying to myself, ‘Missy, that’s impossible, and God doesn’t work that way.’ Oh… yes, me of little faith.”
Late that evening, Missy’s son Collin came downstairs and asked for Ross’s password to download music.
“I had no idea how to find this information except to try and look in his email account,” Missy said. “I pulled up Ross’ emails, and the first item I saw, sent me into a state of shock, confusion, disbelief, you name it.
“It was an email sent from Ross on June 29 around 11:30 p.m., the night before he left. It was a love letter to me.
“I’m not really sure why I never received the email, but I would like to think that he and God were just saving it for me — to give to me at just the right time. This is what Ross shared with me…”