My Son’s story
Joey was born on November 10th, 1999. He was a big baby and so sweet from the minute he entered the world. His full name was Joseph Teo. We were going to name him Cassius (Cachous – I cannot remember the spelling) after his father’s grandfather. I wanted something a bit more modern, so we decided on Joseph. His middle name, Teo, was short for Teofil, Bob’s other grandfather. When Joey was about four or five, he told us he wanted to change his middle name to Teofil, not our shortened version. He was always a character.
Joey was brilliant! I am not just saying that because he was my son, he really was. At nine months old I found him standing on the dining room table calling out to me to see how high he had climbed. Arms out, screaming “Ma, Ma”! I tried so carefully to not get over excited and startle him, I did not want him to fall. He was a November birthday so we decided we would wait to start him in Kindergarten until he was turning six, what my parents did with me. It was in Nursery School that we realized we had made a mistake. That winter we started him in Kindergarten, with the assumption he would repeat because he had missed so much. By second grade he was terribly bored and asked if he could be in a different grade. We tried but the school refused to allow it. He was in groups like “Future Problem Solvers” and excelled.
We moved to a new house and although he was still the same kid things were not as good for him. He was bullied starting in elementary school. He was bullied because he loved to learn. He loved making things and learning things, not running around playing shooting games or farting like little boys do! One time in maybe third grade he was being teased because he was dunking his Oreo in milk during after-school care. Of course, he was taught that this was the proper way to eat an Oreo! The kid would not stop, and I guess after a few comments Joey whipped his soggy Oreo at the kid and watched it slide down his face and neck. Good for Joey!
In all academics he excelled, with Language Arts being his biggest struggle, since it is so subjective. He was a math kid, black and white, formulas… Bullying continued in Middle school but because it was mostly teasing from “friends” it was never taken seriously. There are a lot of painful memories about this time of his life that currently I am not ready to discuss.
Anyhow, he went on to high school and did not do well in a traditional classroom. He was anxious and had depression. I tried to help him in any way possible. He tried to take his own life at least once, if not more.
Joey went to three different high schools before finding the perfect fit. By that time, he had to repeat his Junior year since he had missed a lot of it and needed the credits. Although he always maintained almost perfect A’s in all classes his school did not offer credit based on absences. He went to his new school, which was a magnet school situated on the campus of a community college. Upon entering he tested out of all high school courses so had to start college classes. He was earning college credit along with his high school diploma. He excelled.
He took his SATs and got 800 on the math. A perfect score! At his memorial service, the college professor who taught a math class called Differentials said that Joey taught her a few things! He applied to a few colleges for Mechanical Engineering and although his most desired was Georgia Tech, he was declined being a five-year high schooler! He applied on his own and got into Florida Institute of Technology. He was really on a new trajectory. He graduated with high honors in June of 2019. At this time his father had been dead only a year.
After his father had died in June 2018 from a medical complication, Joey was the man of the house. When I met David, who I had no intention of falling in love with but did anyways, we had some tension. He was staying with a friend of his shortly after graduating high school. He was scheduled to leave in August. After his dad died, Joey saved up enough money to buy himself an $8000 motorcycle in cash. He took all the classes, got his license, and insurance. Some people blame me, I believe, because I did not forbid him from having a motorcycle. He was 18 and there was really nothing I could do. So, I supported him and begged him to be safe.
He was working as a line cook that July. He was on his way home from work on a Tuesday night. He hit a truck pulling out of a side road and died at the scene. There is obviously more to this chain of events but again too painful to talk about right now. That was one year and five days ago.
I lost my son. My daughter lost her brother. He had so many friends, he did not even know it! I am and never will be whole again. I thank God I have my daughter and David.