"Like its politicians and its war, society has the teenagers it deserves." annonymous _____________________________________________________
Mel had been out of work for some time. Her leg was too painful to even take her across the room. She was relegated to the bed and I was the sole provider. And at the end of my workday, I was responsible for taking care of Mel, the children and our home.
During this time my nephew Josh had come down from Kenosha Wisconsin for the summer. Just 15 years old with such promise ahead of him. And handsome with a weird little defect on one ear. Not too noticeable, but to him, it was. He was going to be a director. He loved to make movies. And we were subjected to these films with all the raw humor a young boy can give. They were detective type stories, who dunnits.
When staying with us, Josh got the opportunity to be an only child. Mel took him out in truck with her leg in the cast and let him drive. He was given hundreds of dollars in fireworks which he used responsibly, because he had no choice. And he met a young girl across the street from us who was very smitten with Joshua and initially, it seemed that it was mutual.
We had a party at our house that summer, just a small affair with several of mine and Mel’s friends. Joshua helped in the kitchen preparing hors d'oeuvres. He was quite demanding in the kitchen, he knew everything (but don’t all 15 year olds?). His mother, my sister, Mary, was a cook at many Houston establishments. Café on the Lake, Houston’s, just to name a few. So when she cooked, it was on more of a professional level. I was quick to remind Joshua that if I wanted food prepared in a professional fashion, I would have hired someone else to prepare it for me.
Andy Rooney once said “I don't like food that's too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I'd buy a painting. “
He made rouvlaka, that is a chicken liver wrapped around a walnut and then bacon is wrapped around that then he broiled it and oh my God…. It was wonderful. He helped make little mini cheesecakes. My sister was a pro at cheesecakes and I believe she still is. He phoned home, and of course with all his braggadocio, he chose the most exotic. We made key lime – which I begged him not to, I was certain I wouldn’t like it. He also wanted to make an Amaretto cake, but I tried to deter him. While I was distracted with probably either peeking at my beloved garden in the back or perhaps showering, Mel let him drive her truck, with her in tow to get the liquor. And she didn’t drink. That is how charismatic he was. As for the Key Lime pie? It was luscious.
The guests loved him. He would talk to Jerry about music, Keith about the future of film on the internet and John about the problems in teaching. Quite the learned young person.
But the adult-child turned into a typical teenager at the mall. He loved polo shirts or anything Abercrombie and Fitch. I just wanted to give him money, let him shop and meet me back at the food court, but he insisted I come along which was very clever. Had I sent him, I probably would have given him $25 and be done with it. But having me go with him, I realized you could never buy anything other than socks at A/F, I spent well over $100. He was so happy, and so grateful. I felt all he was doing to maintain our familial happiness by taking care of Mel while I was at work was worth far more than the small amount I just spent on him. We left the store to head back to the car when he spotted a kiosk where they sold “Dots”. It was priceless to see the young child come out. I had never tried dots before. I saw them but had no idea what they were. But they were Josh’s favorite and folks…now they are mine. Try them. Schwann’s delivers to the home.
He called home and asked to stay another 4 weeks. My sister Mary gave the ok. It was a blessing for me because when I got home, I didn’t have to immediately start taking care of whatever Mel’s issues needed attending. That was the last summer he spent with us.
He enjoyed computers and I had my issues with him and the computer. I am a proponent of lockdown and total supervision when there are youngsters involved, but Mary allowed the boys to use it in their own private spaces. She needed me to come to Kenosha (for an event that will be detailed later). When I got there immediately she and the boys let in about the computer issues., and we weren’t out of the garage at Midway Airport.
They could never have detailed the issues and it took me an entire day to clean them out and give Mary reports of where they were while surfing the net. From that point, it was up to her to make a decision about where they would be doing their interneting.
I was sitting with Joshua showing him how to use the net as a resource to further his education. I had money at the time, so I told him I would try to help, but that we should seek scholarships. I believed that film schools would hold afford a different criteria than Harvard or Carthage.
Think of all think of the directors we know, do you think they are brilliant mathematicians or scientists? Of course there are some that stand out, but most are unconventional fly by the seat of your pants people.
When I spoke to him about this, a very close family member walked by and said that I should quit encouraging him, he wasn’t Devon. A reminder can instantly turn enthusiasm into aversion and spoil everything. And it did. But Joshua being the type of person that lets things like that affect him much like water off a duck’s back, got up, left the room, then left the house. But I was not fooled; the human psyche is easily fragmented.
An incident frozen in time. Two years after his visit to us in Spring, Texas, he would be taken forever.
My mother called and left a message on my answering machine:
“Dianne you need to call home Joshua is dead, he killed himself.”
This was before call notes was so popular and we had one of those old fashioned answering machine. The message:
“Dianne…are you there? Pick up the phone ...please, pick up the damn phone!”
I never got why people would leave messages like that. There is sickness all around us – when a long distance call comes in, I pick it up.
“I guess you’re not there… It continued “your nephew (said as if he solely was mine) has killed himself, he took drugs and hung himself”
As tactless as this phone call was, it was equally incorrect.
Mel and I had been out shopping. I came through the door first while she collected the bags of goodies 90% of which we didn’t need. I think of that day and the absolute ordinariness of it all. Why did we spend money we didn’t have on things we didn’t need? We could die tomorrow and someone would most likely come in and trash it. One man’s treasure etcetera.
Had Mel been through the door first, things may have gone differently, better?
How could anything be better?
Mel always wanted to protect me, yet really, could she have?
Could it have been less shocking?
No, maybe just a bit more diplomatically then my mom who was prone to make even the most mundane situations become a second act in a Shakespeare play.
I would get phone calls at work that a person I went to grade school with’s cousin had died. I would always reply with “Oh my gosh, how tragic” Whereas she would continue with all the facts while I sat there reviewing floor plans, trying to figure out how someone could enter dimensions on a bathroom that could not possibly fit. “If I drew it, then it should fit” would be the architects reply causing me to recall a conversation my dad and I had when I came into this venue that” no… in fact it won’t fit”, as he made me promise to not fall under the spell of an architect’s hand. So agreeing with my mothers need to call me was a welcome distraction.
Upon coming in from a normal ordinary day of shopping and hearing DIANNA LYNN, (the sole purpose of a child’s middle name, is so she can tell when she’s really in trouble) I just thanked God that I was not within slapping distance because I was obviously in some sort of trouble. I let the message play out as I went about stacking cans of tuna and tearing tags off of Walmart brand adult playwear. I walked out of the room with her voice trailing:
“As soon as you get this...” (I expected “young lady” to enter into the dialogue, but I guess I was finally too old for that).
I collapsed on the living room floor, Mel trying to catch me as I fell. Joshua committed suicide. He left no note. He was a verbose young man. Yet he left no message. Lily Tomlin once said “Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain” and this was never more true then at that second.
His younger brother came home and found him hanging from the basement pipes. His mom, my sister, had just arrived at the local Walgreens, seemingly missing Joshua's arriving home, when his brother Justin found him. My mind reeled from it all.
Justin called my sister to come home. What did he do during that time? Justin was just 14, alone in that house with his dead brother.
He had discovered Josh, in the laundry room.
Joshua’s room was in the basement, so there may have been a chance that he would have been down there for some time, but as I was told, no, Justin had come home from school and Joshua had been seen not to shortly before by friends.
My little sister seeing her child like that, having to take him “down” with Joshua’s own little brother witnessing all this. I couldn’t bear the thought of her pain and suffering. And what of Justin? How will he survive this?
How can someone survive it? I know I couldn’t, and this was my nephew, but that made no difference.
But no letter. That was not like Joshua. My son and daughter who were close to the child said the same thing I felt, it isn’t even possible that Joshua would not do such a thing without leaving some sort of diatribe. He was like that. When he felt he was being treated unfairly, he made certain everyone knew!! There must be a note somewhere.
And as trivial as this seems, he had just begun driving, something he was looking forward to since he could say the word "faster".
They never told us when the funeral was. Everything was incongruous, and still today unanswered. My heart broke over and over. I figured my family did not want me bringing Mel there.
Years before my mom told me I had to make a choice, either them or Mel. I told her she was the one making the choice, not I. And I resolved that I may never see any of them again. It would have been vulgar to even consider being a part of something so opposed to my values. However, genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery. If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die. Families do that. Most times they will choose some little incidental issue about the other person’s partner.
“No, we are not homophobic; we just don’t like her hair”
The worst are the relatives who harbor their own homosexual tendencies and are simply threatened by the person even existing. What I do not understand is why someone would demand another person’s happiness?
Nonetheless, we had every right to be at the funeral. He was as much ours as anyones. We needed to say goodbye. So we waited and figured the coroner had issues, which made sense and that we would have to wait. And then there was the insurance, which, actually should have been the least of the issues since my mother and sister were both General Agents for a large fraternal Life Insurance company and had all the family well cared for in that regard,
Then different peculiarities came out.
Devon had heard from him that morning. She said he told her he needed to talk to her. She was on her way to work and told him she would speak to him later. They never spoke again. Both my son and daughter were perplexed and agreed it didn’t make sense that he didn’t leave a note.
He didn’t have an abnormal amount of drugs in his system. Nothing except caffeine pills he used because he was working and going to school. He had been working at a pharmacy so at first we thought maybe he had taken something, or worse, maybe he had gotten in some sort of trouble. But the coroner and his boss assured the family that was not the case.
As I said we were not told of the funeral. After the fact my sister said we shouldn’t have waited, we just should have come. Well, yes, for most folks yes, but I learned from my family – when it came to me, I better wait for an invitation. And no one had the luxury of taking anything more than the allotted two maybe three days for bereavement. It was obvious they were keeping me and my children away. We never found out why.
We were told that during the funeral, someone broke into my sister’s house. They didn’t take anything. My convoluted mind had a conspiracy theory. I believe someone did something to him and they came to the house to remove some evidence. I will never believe he killed himself. I will never understand why I, my daughter and my son, who were close to Joshua, as well as Mel who adored him, were excluded from the ceremony. We never got to look at him one last time. We never had closure.
Months later a young friend of Joshua’s came to visit my sister.
Adding as many questions as answers. And an unpredictable revelation
(This episode takes place 2 years after the last installment where Joshua had come to stay with us. Because of the topic I am writing out of sequence to resolve questions that have been forthcoming. )
Beginning of Book
Yes, this is absolutely positively true. If you lived this wouldn't you write about it? Some of the names of characters in this blog are fictitious. This is an account of actual events. Some of the events have been compiled together for the flow of the story. Even when I read my own work, I wonder how it could be so. But if you study your own life and compartmentalize it into less than 200 pages, you would be surprised how interesting it really is!
TRUTH HAS WITNESSES (Dianne Lindsey) This material is the copyright Dianne Schuch Lindsey and cannot be duplicated in any fashion without the express permission of the Author. All rights reserved ©