Loved and missed
Jon was a people magnet. Never judgmental, he could strike up a conversation with anyone he came across and find common ground. “If you didn’t know Jon, you wanted to,” his mother, Della said. Jon was the life of the party, adventurous, and always up for trying new things. He loved any outdoor activities, especially fishing, hunting, and surfing, and he skateboarded into his 40s!
A hands-on learner, Jon had many skills and talents. He could fix almost anything and was good at technical issues. He liked to share what he knew with others, especially teaching young people to fish. Jon quit school at 16, later earning his GED. When he applied for the Marines, like his younger brother, Jason, he found a GED was not sufficient. He enrolled in a Junior College to get the credits he needed to be accepted and spent several years in the Marines Corps.
After leaving the Marines, Jon learned from his stepdad, Jeff, (also an ex-Marine) how to build swimming pools and had his own pool business. He also joined the Army National Guard and worked as a generator mechanic. He volunteered for anything they offered in terms of training and learning new skills.
Jon’s sister Jona, and brother, Jason, had a loving relationship and did a lot of things together in their younger years. Jon was the favored uncle to his 3 nieces and 2 nephews. Though they maintained a good relationship, it could be strained because of Jon’s substance use. As Jon’s active addiction went on, he lost interest in the things he enjoyed and distanced himself from those he loved. He stopped planning for the future and lived life one day at a time.
After Jon’s death, a friend shared a story with Jon’s mother about how he met him while sitting on a dock in Jacksonville. They struck up a conversation, talked awhile, and had a beer together before they parted. Jon was unaware that the young man was considering suicide and that Jon’s words to him that day saved his life. Della said, “I was so thankful to hear that story. I was always proud of Jon. He never thought he was good enough, and that makes me sad.”
After experiencing Jon’s addiction, Della said she is more aware of substance use disorder (SUD) and the prevalence of fentanyl in drugs. She has started a support group called ADVOCATES for our Angels, for parents who have lost children to SUD. “I realize how much we missed together,” she said. ‘It is hard. Jon was an adult; you can’t control what they do. Unfortunately, you have to sit back and watch it unfold.’
Jon’s mother, Della Wiggins, provided the information for this narrative.
June 6, 1971-January 13, 2018
Age 46-Lived with the disease of addiction 15 years