It was a good life; it just wasn’t long enough
“Joe was my sarcastic, funny, and politically incorrect son,” his mom said. ‘He was fearless and a daredevil.’ Joe enjoyed being outdoors, camping, fishing and gardening, but his passion was reading. He devoured books and read the daily newspaper whenever possible. Joe loved to eat; chocolate milk was his favorite beverage, but everything sweet that he ate had to be vanilla.
Joe was opinionated, brutally honest, and straightforward with everyone, never beating around the bush. He could always be trusted to keep a secret. He loved animals and kids and always championed the underdog. Joe took some college classes, went to HVAC school and had several jobs before he found his talent in landscaping. He spent an entire summer building a large pond for his employer. The pond was featured in the Akron Garden Walk and in the local newspaper. He hand cut large rocks, built the stone waterfall, created the pond and groomed the surrounding grounds. He was very proud of “his” pond. The last few years of his life, he was the gardener/caretaker of a large home in Akron. Joe enjoyed holidays with the family and being with his sons, Talyn and Teagyn. He did the best he could to care for them, when he was able. More than anything else, Joe wanted to own a home, be a good father and be sober like his older brother. His mom said that Joe’s biggest accomplishment was staying alive as long as he did. As a kid, he had two heart surgeries and in adulthood, he suffered a brain bleed from being hit by a car. His mom said, “He kept going. He lived a good life; it just wasn’t long enough,” She often asked Joe what he planned to do later in life; his consistent response was: “I will never see old age, so why plan for it?” Being a nurse, Joe’s mom knew that addiction was a disease, but didn’t realize the extent of the impact on everyone involved. She is adamant we should treat those with substance use disorder as if they have an illness and not a weakness. She is an outspoken proponent of breaking the stigma of addiction by educating people. “You just can’t stop doing drugs, there is much more to it,” she tells people. ‘ It can take years and multiple times in a program to become free of drugs. It is easy to feel like a rotten mother, but I have learned that it isn’t my fault. I quit beating myself up about it for the most part. I try to find peace in the wonderful memories Joe gave me.’
Joe’s mother, Nancy Meszaros, provided the information for this narrative.
October 1, 1983-February 15, 2017Age 33-Lived with addiction 10 years