When people wonder why I don’t drink, (except for that rare once a year something) I usually point to the fact that addiction runs rampant through all the branches of my family… so much so that people in my family could fill up the Betty Ford Center. I don’t know what it is on both my mother and father’s side of the family, we have strong tendencies toward addictive behaviors. I know it’s hard to imagine this perfect looking group of people here could ever have trouble with addiction, but, several in this photo have.
Including the little boy in the middle, front with his hands in the air. That’s Josh. The youngest son of my cousin Vicki, who is the middle daughter of my dad’s sister Junie. (Confused yet?) Josh was about 10 in this picture. He was a cute little feller.
There were four boys. 2 of his older brothers got football scholarships to places like Colorado and The University of Texas. Josh didn’t play football like they did. Josh was a very bright, sensitive, intuitive, creative kid. His Aunt Judi just read me a poem over the phone he wrote when he was in 7th grade. Unbelievable insight and depth Josh had to be 13. Josh also served our country in the Middle East during Operation Enduring Freedom.
When Josh and his brothers were growing up, their mom was so great about sending that Christmas card picture every year. I mean, Vicki never missed a year sending that picture. From the time they had their first son in about 1977 and for the few years following, there was a new baby every year. She had her hands full with those Stairstep Boys. Because Vicki was so diligent about sending that photo every year, we got to watch those kids grow up from a distance. I always looked forward to seeing how those boys had grown year after year. I adopted the same Christmas picture tradition from Vicki so my far away kin could see my kids grow up.
My Cousin Judi, who is Vicki’s younger sister called me a little bit ago to tell me that Josh was found dead 10 days ago. Because he had no ID on him, his parents weren’t notified until today that their baby boy was gone.
I can’t imagine. I just can’t imagine. I’m so heartbroken for them…Josh’s mom and dad…for my Uncle Wesley, who just celebrated his 80th birthday and now has outlived one of his grandchildren…for his brothers, one of whom will be having very serious surgery tomorrow in Spain due to an injury he received playing pro football in Europe….his aunts, his cousins…all of his friends and loved ones who have watched his decline through the years and sadly, expected that this tragedy would eventually happen. I’m especially sad for Josh. This has been going on for a long time. There were times I thought maybe he was going to make it and stay clean. Although this was not really that unexpected, I”m sure all of them are going to eventually feel tremendous guilt, “Could we have done more?”, all of those things.
Just sad….unbelievably tragic and sad.