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This fundraiser ended on 05/31/13

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The family of Nelson Williams, Jr. is raising money to help with his memorial, burial services. Please donate to help his grieving family.

My father was a loving, caring man full of charisma and charm. He left us too soon in a tragic event. Sunday November 18, 2012 my father passed away from an overdose. He was 54 years  old.

For years, my father has battled life as an addict, but it was not always this way. Growing up, my father loved fishing, hunting, camping, boating, spending time with family and anything outdoors. He had beautiful dark brown skin, brown eyes, black hair and a strong muscular physique - he had an imposing figure. As a child I remember how supportive he was with anything I wanted to do or try. My father had a brother and many sisters and was a mentor to them all. He would give the shirt off of his back to help someone in need – especially family. He was always there to pick you up when you were down. He used to tickle me incessantly when I was little and wrestle with my brother and me. Every storm he would tell the same story (a very endearing quality) – “It was a dark and stormy night and the captain said to his mate – mate….It was a dark and stormy night.” He would repeat those phrases over and over again. Not a particularly good story, but a memorable one as a child. Everyone loved his sense of humor and he was constantly cracking jokes. When I was around eight he tried to teach me how to ice skate on a pond, but he didn’t have any skates, so he went on the ice with his regular shoes and attempted to slide forward and backward. Ultimately he ended up slipping and falling and hitting his head, but he was willing to do or try anything when it came to me. When I was nine he built a playhouse in the backyard for me with a terrarium (with lizards), a big deck and a high pressure homemade water gun (pvc pipe) that could shoot anywhere in the neighborhood. He could catch a lizard anywhere and as I had my own children he took them lizard hunting as well.

While my father was a wonderful man, he was complicated and battled with many demons – mainly addiction. At age eighteen he became addicted to methamphetamines and alcohol. Lurking behind his addiction was the inescapable tormentor of mental illness. He was undiagnosed bipolar. No matter how hard he tried he could not get away from the clutches of his illness, which fueled his addiction. Slowly he lost everything destroying his life in the process. He went from owning a successful construction company with a loving family to be being homeless, jobless, lonely and penniless. He was a shell of the man he once was. He no longer had any teeth, his muscles had atrophied and he looked like a man twenty years his senior. The once articulate and charismatic man could barely put together a coherent sentence and had the mental faculties of a young child. His fine motor skills were no longer there. A former handy man and concrete artist he could no longer even hold a screw driver. I knew things were getting worse for him. My father had brief periods of lucidness where I could glimpse the man I knew and loved, but those moments were brief and fleeting and happening less and less. Addiction does not care about race, gender, creed or class – no one is immune.

Eventually, I got the call from my mother. My father had passed away. She was in the ambulance riding with him to the hospital, but he was already gone. She and my brother found him in his room lifeless in his bed. They tried to administer CPR. His heart had stopped and the paramedics were unable to revive him. They tried again at the hospital, but to no avail. He had finally lost his battle with addiction. I live in another part of the state, so I was not there when he died and I am devastated that I could not see him alive one more time. My younger brother was very close with my father and he has lost his dear friend and confidant.

I knew this scenario was a possibility, but you are never prepared. He was a beloved father, grandfather, husband, brother and uncle. Now we are left to handle the funeral expenses. My mother works two jobs and my brother also struggles with mental illness, so they have no extra money. I have four children of my own and most of my money goes to care for my special needs child who is also severely bi-polar (it is genetic). We have no way to pay for the funeral. My father, while imperfect, was a good man. He deserves more than what I can give him right now. He should be remembered for the man he was and the man he could have been. My father was like so many others that struggle with mental illness and self medicate to make themselves feel normal. He may have ended up with nothing, but I want my father to know that he was loved by his family. His body and mind could no longer do what he wanted them to here, so he went on to a place where they could. My father will never see his granddaughter grow up, he will never see my sons graduate from high school and college, he will never have lived a life without torment and deep suffering, but at least he can rest in peace. Please help me give my father this last gift by donating to the Nelson Williams Memorial fund. I would give anything to give my father a proper funeral. Donate if you have or have ever had a loved one who has struggled with a mental illness or the disease of addiction.

Please take a moment to look at photos of my father or watch a brief slide show of his life (and read any updates on the updates page or pasted below).

UPDATES

THE SERVICES

In the last years of his life, most people remember my father as a rundown drug addict, but these photos and movie show the amazing person he truly was and the life he could have lived (permanently) without mental illness.

The actual services were hard emotionally (November 23-24, 2012). I wasn't there when he died and the thought of leaving him shattered me. Cost was an issue, so we had to have him cremated. I wanted my father to have a casket and grave, so being force to accept cremation was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Before the cremation, the family held a private viewing. The thought of his body just not existing anymore was unbearable to me. There was a point when I realized that after that night - I would never lay eyes on him again. I was there in the morning holding his hand when the mortuary first opened its doors and I didn't leave his side until the mortuary forced me to leave late that night. I was the only one left. People we were worried how he would look at an open casket, but he looked perfect. The pain from his face was gone and his features were soft, loving and peaceful. They cremated him that night. The next morning, the actual funeral was emotionally charged. The sorrow and loss was palpable and heavy in the room. I hesitated to look at the urn – it was supposed to represent him, but it made the loss more permanent for me and I couldn’t accept that. Shakily, I gave a eulogy highlighting a lot of the cherished experiences I had with my father, my brother gave a heartfelt talk and my dad's best friend gave a talk about his childhood. A good friend of mine sang and played "Annie's Song" on the guitar - it was beautiful. There was a sort of open mic period for remarks from any of the loved ones at the service and a few people got up to speak. Despite everything that happened, people loved my father fiercely and loyally and were devastated by the loss.

At the end of the mortuary ceremony I played a movie of his life (a much longer version than I made available on the website) with all of his favorite music. Everyone was in tears. I was barely consolable. After the funeral service we drove to the gravesite for a brief ceremony. Everyone took a carnation and placed it on the urn (which I am still coming to terms with). My brother and I placed our carnations on the grave last – taking our time to say goodbye. I again stayed at the gravesite late into the night just struggling to be close to him one last time and if he was watching I was trying to let him know that I tried to make the most of every second I had with him - to the very end.

I know that some of you have loved ones and family members struggling with similar issues and I hope this helps in some small way. I also hope that my father is proud of me and knows that in spite of everything I love him very much.

Even though the funeral and services already happened has been a huge financial burden on my family that we cannot handle. We need your help. We have several outstanding accounts related to his memorial services that we just can't pay. My father barely had a home let alone life insurance. The process has been very frustrating. Funeral homes are used to dealing with people who have insurance, so their prices are inflated and they rarely deal with someone who says, "I can't pay." I mean what happens to the poor? There is injustice even in death. Thank you for taking time to read about my father’s story and please donate. We appreciate all of your help more than you know.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

I have not travelled the same drug addicted path that my father and other family members have. I became pregnant at 17, but I was still able to go to college, triple major and continue on to law school to earn my JD, however, not without severe BP struggles of my own. I can't really work, however, because my special needs son is so demanding (I work a little by teaching classes online, but it doesn't pay much). Now I am terrified at the life my son may have. He is even more ill than my father was. Luckily, my background with the illness allowed me to recognize the BP signs in my son early and get him immediate help. I advocate on behalf of my son whenever I can and I try to educate others. I put together a mental health week at his school last year and the major newspaper in our city wrote a story about him - it was actually very tastefully done (I pasted the link for the story in case you interested):

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53755391-78/mental-disorder-taylor-gre...

I tried to advocate for my father while he was alive, but he wouldn't accept the help. Please help me honor his life now by sharing this story with your friends and family and by viewing photos, a short movie of him and donating. Please advocate for someone struggling with mental illness and/or addiction who cannot advocate for themselves. Thank you again for your time and compassion.

 

 

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