Melissa was born on 03/18/1968 with a birth defect called ALCAPA (Anomalous origin of the left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery) which was usually fatal. Instead of passing within the first 5 weeks, Melissa was with us for 55 years and 4 days.
ALCAPA happens in 1 out of 300,000 live births or 0.5% of the children with congenital heart disease, but almost none of the children diagnosed survive without early surgery, and she was born prior to these surgeries being available. Those undiagnosed, or adult diagnosed have an 80% to 90% incidence of sudden death at the mean age of 35 years. As far as we know, she's the only person with this rare disease to be able to run half marathons. Many say their spouses are one in a million, but Melissa's life rarer than that.
She went to Saint Colombian’s Catholic school, where she learned how to pray and swear, not necessarily in that order. She made lifelong friends, many of which flew out for her memorial. In her teens they performed her first double bypass and told her to take it easy.... so, she did so by competing in gymnastics until she popped open the wires holding her chest together, so she then decided to take up a lifelong hobby of running. She then became student body President, runner up for Prom Queen all at Garden Grove High School, and to all that met her she was a ray of sunshine.
In her early 20s, Debi and Melissa took a trip to Puerto Vallarta where she developed her lifelong love of margaritas, Mexican food and the joys of dancing on bars. Some things that happened in Mexico will always stay in Mexico, but she developed a lifelong aversion to tequila shots.
Melissa earned her degree in Early Childhood Development at CSULB -- and taught pre-K to 3rd grade for 6 years after college, and then shifted into social work, while living in San Diego and Ohio. She finally became a flight attendant for Continental Express (and then United when they merged), claiming her degree was applicable, since many travelers acted like spoiled children. She enjoyed flying the not so friendly skies for 18 years until she was forced to retire due to the COVID.
She loved adventure, and those 18 years and bragged that she got to visit every Ramada Inn in the continental U.S., Mexico and Canada. But she also got to explore many wonderful cities on extended overnights, and it allowed them to visit Europe or Hawaii on a few occasions. Ultimately she was disappointed when United Airlines CEO did not honor her life time retirement fly benefits.
Melissa met Dave when he was her Karate instructor in 1991, and after 3 years they got married in 1994, making him the luckiest man on earth. Dave said he hit the lotto; a beautiful girl that didn't realize how out of his league she was. They took their adventures on the road living in Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, Cleveland Ohio, Austin Texas, San Jose, and finally back to Houston Texas. While they had some ups and downs, especially while Dave was getting bridle trained, they had as close to a perfect marriage as anyone ever gets; they were completely devoted to each other, and wonderfully in love until her last day.
To summarize Melissa in a sentence, she was always a happy person, that converted Mexican food calories into a whirlwind of energy; zipping around, cleaning, cooking, doing chores, running, managing properties, until she crashed on her deck, looking out at her lake, admiring her latest pedicure color, margarita in hand.
One of her most treasured activities was never forgetting a birthday, anniversary, get well card, or other event -- anything that would allow her to send a kind note, card, gift, and let people know that they were remembered and loved. For the last year she was working at American Greetings stocking cards in various stores, putting her organizational skills to full effect. Many of us have been the happy recipients of one of her timely greetings, something that we will all miss. A small kindness that was her own in this digital world, and something that can inspire us all to pass it forward in her memory.
Sadly, on February 18th, Melissa was running (doing what she loved) with her friends at Kingwood Fit, when she had cardiac event. Despite having a Pacemaker, she went into ventricular tachycardia and was administered CPR by running buddies Theresa (a Physician Assistant) and Mirna (ICU Medical Assistant). Always the fighter, after an hour of CPR, they were bringing in her husband in to say goodbye, when her heart got sinus rhythm and she fought on. She suffered a stroke, anoxic brain injury, had multiple DVT clots, neuropathy, and had lost most of her vision. And still, she was in rehab fighting and showing signs of recovery when she developed septic shock due to a blockage and passed on March 22nd at 11:52 PM... 4 days after her 55th birthday, and 3 days after the 32nd Anniversary of Dave and Melissa's first date. (Which they still celebrated).
Melissa is survived by her Husband David. Her Mom and Dad (Mary and Bill). Her two recently discovered brothers (Matt and Mark) and their families. Brother/Sister in-law and family. Friend like Debi (her oldest friend), and Mandy (her day drinking buddy and confidant), as well as Richard and Vickie (friends, neighbors and weekend domino partners). As well as wonderful extended family, co-workers, community, friends, and classmates from Saint Columbans. Along with the rest of the world that has been denied the light of knowing one of nicest, happiest and most considerate people to grace the earth.