Energetic, loved to laugh, challenging, painful, wounded
Some thoughts that came to mind when Joey’s family was asked about him were energetic, sensitive, but afraid to show it, athletic, and compassionate with a heart for those less fortunate. He also had a short attention span, liked being the center of attention, was intelligent, charming, artistic and wounded. “He was very complex,” his parents said. “He would love you with his whole heart and he would challenge you with his whole heart.”
Joey enjoyed any sport, but primarily played soccer, baseball and recreational basketball as a boy. Despite the fact that he grew up and lived primarily in North Carolina he had a strong affinity for the Philadelphia Eagles. “He was a die-hard fan and bled green for the Birds. He also loved animals of all kinds and was especially drawn to caring for strays.”
Joey’s mother, Jennifer, remembers how he often took people under his wing offering them his friendship. As a young boy in Sunday school, he made friends with a child with a disability that others were shunning and in high school he would eat lunch with the special needs students and defend them when others were unkind.
In the worst stages of his illness, Joey became unrecognizable to his family. He was unpredictable, erratic and a completely different person. He would steal and lie to his family. At times they were threatened by drug dealers and didn’t feel safe in their own home. They became estranged from Joey for a time. Fortunately, he was able to get a placement in a treatment facility near his family and had almost a year of sobriety prior to his death. He used the time to reconnect and repair family relationships.
Joey worked for several rehab centers, helping to connect those with substance use disorders to treatment. He enjoyed expressing his artistic ability in tattoo art. He was the halfway house barber, chatting amicably with the residents while cutting their hair. He had plans to open his own hair salon and spoke often of wanting to be a dad.
Jennifer misses his voice, his humor and him saying “Ma.” His father, Steve, says the family is less judgmental toward those with substance use disorder and now lives with a deep sense of sadness that will never go away. “Our hearts limp, we are forever changed, forever heartbroken.”
Joey’s parents, Stephen & Jennifer Foote, provided the information for this narrative
February 4, 1991 – February 4, 2019
Age 28 – Lived with addiction 14 years