Friday, September 02, 2005

9/02/05 Teddy Bear Gone

The first time I saw Michael Wasik’s photo on the National Center for Missing Adults site, I immediately thought of Rupert Boneham, the burly winner of one of the “Survivor” segments on CBS. Rupert reminded me of a pirate, which made him perfect as a “castaway” on the island. Viewers learned quickly that while Rupert may have had a rougher appearance, behind that face was a compassionate “teddy bear” of a man.
Rupert Boneham


I asked Carol Patrick, Michael Wasik’s sister, if Michael was anything like Rupert. She gave me a firm “yes”.

Mike is the 4th of 5 children, all born within a span of 8 years. The siblings were close to each other because of their ages. Carol felt a particularly strong bond with her younger brother. As she was the oldest, Carol helped with the care of the other children, and Mike was her favorite to watch. “He was always so happy,” Carol reminisces.

Growing up in the Wasik family reminded me of my own earlier years. Remember when it was safe to leave the house first thing in the morning, ride bikes or play with friends, and come home only when you were hungry? That was life as children for Carol and Michael.

Carol remembers the good times with her brother: “Mike is the happy go lucky one. He always has a smile for everyone. Every one is his friend. He could always turn a bad situation into something funny. Mike wanted to be an oceanographer when he was little. Our family spent our summer vacations at the CT shore. Mike loved to catch crabs with a string and broken mussel shell.

The best time in Mike’s life was the birth of his children. He just turned into mush every time he looked at those little girls. The most wonderful part was the way they looked back at him…they idolized him.

Mike played Santa the last Christmas my mom was alive. He had never been happier.”

The tide then turned for Mike. His wife left him and their children. Mike’s family and his church stood by him, but he was finding it more and more difficult to cope with this turn of events. He began to drink heavily, eventually lost his job, incurred legal problems, and lost custody of his children. The burden of all this was too much for Mike, and he left. The “teddy bear” was now lost to his family and all those who loved him.

On September 13th, Mike will have been missing for 4 years. Carol hopes her greatest fear will not be realized: “My biggest fear is for his safety. Mike has a big heart. I worry that he will be taken advantage of. I pray every day that he has found happiness and security. I wish that he would allow us to become a family again.”

Carol tells us that the biggest impact is on Mike’s girls. They are struggling with life and need a father. “He taught them to be strong, and to fight. I just pray they will win their own battles.” Some of Mike’s siblings are angry and hurt, and cannot understand why Mike would do this. Carol has been searching for him for these 4 long years, and just wants him back, that is, if he wants to come home. She understands that only Mike can make that decision.

As Michael was last seen in a homeless shelter, he has been placed on Project Jason’s Come Home program, the nation’s first missing person’s locator program that seeks the missing among the homeless. His two week campaign is running now. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, homeless coalitions, and other groups who interface with the homeless and are on are the participant database and have been notified to print and post Mike’s campaign poster.

When Carol saw Mike’s poster on the site, it brought all of her emotions about Mike’s disappearance to the surface: “I can’t really explain how I feel, or what I have learned by Mike leaving. I always though our sibling bond would hold us together, but I guess I was wrong. If Michael could read this, I want him to know that we love him and miss him. I also want him to know that his coming home would be his choice.”

Carol said she has taken a big step in seeking Mike by having him on the Come Home program. She wrote a thank you letter to the Come Home participants that in part, read: “Thank you for the job you do…for the help you give. Individuals turn to you when they feel they have no other options. You do a job that is invaluable to society. You give someone like my brother a last chance. I pray my brother is alive and well. I hope you will help me reunite with him.”

We hope so too, Carol.

Rupert Boneham was voted the winner and won a million dollars from playing “Survivor”. He went on to use that money to start an organization to help troubled children and teens. The “teddy bear” came home from the island and made a difference. http://rupertskids.org/index.php

I’d like to place a vote for another “teddy bear” of a man, Michael Wasik. I want to see him win at the game of life, and once again be surrounded by friends and family. I wish it were as easy as sending for him in a boat or a plane. It’s not. Please come home, Michael. They want you back.

To find out more about the Come Home program, and to download Michael’s poster, please see http://www.projectjason.org/comehome.html

1 Comments:

Anonymous Lisa said...

I hope you have found some justice for your brother. My friend mother has been missing since 1986 and we are actively searching for her now. Never did a realize what a deep, dark vast hole it is looking for someone in America. You are in my families prayers and I hope you find your brother.

Warmest thoughts for you and yours,
Lisa

2:02 AM  

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