“Desperate”, Not “Defiant” – Death of Michigan Diner Owner from COVID-19 Heartbreaking
I rarely write opinion pieces, especially about anything that is anywhere near politics or related to COVID-19. There is enough of it out there, too much really.
But when I came across this story on some other media outlets this morning about the death of a man from Michigan due to complications from COVID-19, I was disappointed by the angle used in headlines related to his death and what he and his family have been through for years. In particular, the word "defiant" or "defies" just didn't seem to fit the true nature of the story.
62-year-old John Parney, owner of the Quincy Diner in Branch County passed away on December 14 after battling COVID-19 for months. He was admittedly unvaccinated, but clearly was second-guessing that decision. He was even planning to get one, saying that his battle with COVID-19 was worse than anything he had experienced in his military training. But he never fully recovered after his hospitalization back in September.
If that wasn't enough, his wife Paula had been battling stage-four colon cancer, which is the majority of the reason that he chose to keep his restaurant open during a partial shutdown order in December 2020. The word "defies" in a headline would lead you to think that people were crowded together with no masks and that it was some kind of political or social statement, similar to other stories about businesses during shutdowns.
But the facts are Parney thought very hard about the decision, not taking it lightly. He was aware it was a risk and against orders, but I have found nothing to indicate that he was trying to make any kind of statement with his decision. When he decided to stay open against the order, he called it a desperate one because of his wife's medical bills and their income. If they had lost the business, it literally could have led to the death of his wife if she wasn't able to get the care she needed fighting cancer. And the other thing not being mentioned in recent articles is that they separated tables, spread out customers with social distancing, did thorough cleanings of menus, and followed protocols for mask-wearing.
To be fair, there were other stories about businesses in Michigan that I think would fit the bill for being "defiant" during pandemic-related state health orders. Whether you agree or disagree with the orders or what business owners decided to do at the time, is not where I am headed with this. It's about lumping this person in with the rest of them when clearly there was a lot more to this story. And at no point have I read anything about him behaving defiantly related to keeping his business open. My heart breaks for the Parney family as they deal with this loss, especially just ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The definition of the word "defiance" is 'open resistance; bold disobedience'. I suppose the open resistance part is not technically wrong. But can we agree that the word sounds a lot harsher than the facts here? Desperate certainly seems more accurate to me. You can argue about whether it was the right decision or not, but let's present it as it actually was. Desperate, not defiant.
And if you are unvaccinated for COVID-19, please consider what you have read in this story and think about what this family is going through. You don't need to get the vaccine in the mindset that the President, the Governor, or any other politician or health expert keeps telling you to. Get it for yourself and for your family, and your friends. Get it for the people in your community, who care about you and want you in their lives. Get vaccinated in spite of a vaccine mandate, not because of it, unless you truly have legitimate health reasons not to.
The good news amidst this tragedy is that Paula, while still fighting cancer, has been doing much better. But now she is widowed, without her life partner.
A GoFundMe page has been ongoing for the Parney family which you can find by CLICKING HERE. Another fundraising event has been scheduled at the Hillsdale Pizza Hut on 508 W. Carleton Road on January 11, 2022, which takes place between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.. During that time 10% of sales at the restaurant will go to the family.