Thursday, December 3, 2015
The man I called Dad and what led to his suicide
I'm brushing the dust off of my blog after a few years. I have a lot to say. I created this blog to update family and friends on Tanner. While Tanner is doing amazing an exceeding expectations, I want to use this blog to talk about our whole family. Our trials, tribulations and triumphs. This particular post has played out in my head for months now. I think about my dad every single day. As we are coming up on November 30th, one year since he took his own life, I feel very inclined to talk about his story and what led him to this decision. I want to start out by saying that in my life, as a mom, the biggest threat in this crazy world is a child predator. There is no crime more disgusting and horrifying to me than any sort of child abuse. That being said, I'm going to start my story in January of 2012, and work my way backward. And then bring us to the present again. Parker was not yet a month old when I received a call from my dad. Sobbing he said "Jess, I have to tell you something. It's going to destroy our family". My heart sunk. He went on to tell me that he just been arrested on 31 counts of child pornography. Now, I'm going to take you back to 1989. My mom had just moved herself my sister and I to a little double house on Walton Ave. She was a single mom, going to school and working. A neighbor, who we started calling Mr. D saw a need for a father figure in our lives. My mother also knew we needed that in our lives. Over time my sister and I spent more and more time with him. Amusement parks, museums, lakes, nature bike rides......all kinds of great things. He was a genuine man, filling a void in our lives with love. My mom was thankful for him and my sister and I loved him. He and my mom never dated or anything. But they did become great friends over the years raising us together. Our friends loved him too. There were those handful of friends that weren't allowed around him because their parents thought he was weird. Some of our family didn't like the whole idea either. Eventually, my sister and I started calling him Dad. He was so proud. We filled a void in his life too. When I think back to my childhood and all of those memories...he was there. Always encouraging good character, morals and values. As we got older and turned into crazy teenagers he always did his best for us regardless of our crappy attitudes and ungratefulness. When I graduated high school and got wrapped up the wrong crowd he didn't scold me. He was there for me, trying to help me make the best decisions. My mom moved to Philadelphia and got married. It created the perfect out for me. For me to escape my surroundings that were dragging me down. I know it killed him when I moved to Philadelphia with my mom and her husband. But he knew that's what I needed. We gave him so much purpose and when I moved to Philadelphia and my sister moved out I think he became depressed. Even though I was far away and grown up, he was still my rock. If I ever needed anything he came through for me. Mentally, spiritually, monetarily....anything. I knew I could depend on him. He was the most selfless person I've ever known. A few years after that my sister and I became mothers right about the same time. He was now promoted to Pappy. He had a purpose again. They loved him. If they could play with, talk to or go to the play ground with anyone.....it was their pappy. Gosh, he loved them so much and they were the center of his world. So, coming back to January 2012......the story hit the papers the next day. For all of those skeptical people throughout our lives this was the glue that held their suspicions together. It all made sense to them to now. He lost everything....everybody that day. Except for me. Because of the circumstances he never got to say goodbye to my kids. But I talked to him on weekly basis. I called the lead detective. I needed the facts. He said that they found 31 child pornographic images on my dads computer. I asked about the images. Were they personal photos, when, what, where?????? He said that they were commercial images and that all 31 of them were downloaded on the same day at the same time. Nothing else was found on his computers. There were never any abuse charges against him or any accusations even. I mean, my sister and I were raised by him. My friends were like kids to him. NEVER did he do anything to any of us. We never felt uncomfortable. I just couldn't believe this. Wouldn't someone with Pedophilia have more than one download. Not only that but those pictures were downloaded all at one time on one day. Wouldn't they have more than that?!?! I thought back to my childhood. I questioned everything. My dad, from day one, had said this was a mistake. He was hacked or something. He tried so hard to prove it. This is what I eventually came up with on my own other than his theory that he was hacked. (No judgment please) 1. Someone that wanted him out of our lives framed him for this. I can think of a few that would benefit from him being removed from our lives. This would be the perfect crime to make sure he was out. He could have committed any other crime and everyone would have stuck by him. I think every person in Altoona knew where he hid the key on his front porch. He left it out for us and our friends if we ever needed to get in when he wasn't home. I feel like going into his house and downloading some images and then reporting it would be pretty simple to do. Some may find that far fetched. 2. He did download the images. As much as I hope this not is the case it is a possibility. Maybe he had a sickness that attracted him to children. As sad and as sick as that makes me I believe there's another side to that if that be the case. If he did have sickness in his head it must have taken some strong will power to turn something so WRONG into something so beneficial. Really think about that. If this is how he felt, he knew how wrong it was and tried to change it into a positive. He had years and years with my sister and our friends, countless opportunities to turn us into victims. But he didn't. Instead, he took care of us, taught us and gave us countless childhood memories that I will cherish forever. He became a grandfather to our children that adored him. He treated them like gold. I think that says something about his character and who he was. Going back t 2014. He sold his house and moved out of Altoona. He rented a trailer in Carlisle. I called him on Thanksgiving. I left him a voicemail. I wished him a happy Thanksgiving and hoped he got to spend it with his new friends in Carlisle that didn't know what he was going through. He did call me back but I missed him. He left me a voicemail. Of course grateful that I took time to call him on the holiday. He always was so grateful for the little things. I felt incredible guilty that I couldn't see him on the holidays anymore. But he was thankful for the calls. I didn't hear from him again. He took his own life around 9pm November 30th 2014. A single gunshot wound to the head after he unsuccessfully tried to poison himself with carbon monoxide. My dad was a very sensitive man. I will always have images in my head of what he went through that night. I know for a fact he was sobbing. I know he had to have been drinking a lot even though he wasn't a drinker. There's no way he could have pulled that trigger sober. He knew that. I know that. I didn't even know until December 2nd. I was power of attorney and his executrix. When I got the call I broke down. He had been preparing me for this for months but I had no idea. I don't know how I missed all of the signs. It all made sense now. He had been sending me letters letting me know everything I needed to know for this moment. He prepaid for his cremation. It was already done by the time I even found out. He had every single bill paid. Every document that I needed he had for me in the exact spot he said they would be. Even in his final days all he cared about was making this easier for me. He knew that his suicide would break my heart. He didn't want to be any more of a burden than that. Now it was time to do everything he prepared me for. Justin and I drove to Carlisle and met my sister. I dreaded walking into his house. It smelled horrible of whatever he tried to do with the carbon monoxide and charcoal grills. I will never for get that smell. The coroner just took his body. Nothing else. Justin and my sister tried to keep me from cleaning up the actual area. But I felt it was my duty. I was his daughter. He did everything for me my whole entire life. He put me and my kids before himself all of the time. I couldn't leave the pillow or towels there where he died. I did cry disposing of that stuff. I sobbed......my poor dad. How did such a selfless, caring, genuine man's life end like this? So, here I am. A year later. My heart is still hurting. I miss hearing his voice. I miss his advice and guidance. I miss him. His ashes are still here in my living room. I was supposed to scatter them in two different places. I just can't do it yet. I'm not ready to totally let him go. Maybe telling this story will help me. I feel like I have to speak out for him and tell everybody what kind of Dad he was. Everyone needs to know what a great person he was regardless of what the newspapers said. The sad fact is nobody will ever really know the truth. I will never know if he downloaded those pictures. I will never know if he suppressed a demon all of those years. What I do know is my life would have been a lot less happy had he never been it and I feel extremely lucky to have been able to call him my dad. RIP Dad. I miss you.