Forever 46

Oct 30, 2019

I met Gavin's dad while I was working at a college in the largest city from where I grew up, he worked as a student assistant and for some reason we hit it off.  I hadn't really dated much after my break up with Teresa's dad because it was hard being a young woman, working and raising a child on your own-but I was lonely and it was nice having a guy pay attention to me.  I was 20 when we met & he was 21.  He was vibrant, fun, outgoing and had a lot of friends and a wonderful family.  He was very different then me, who was very shy and introverted.  He brought fun into my life, and I got caught up in that rather quickly, and not to mention just wanted to be a part of his amazing family who I fell in love with probably more then I did with him-looking back.  I got pregnant with Gavin before we were married, I am sure from the outside looking in I was not really what a mom or sister would want for their son/brother to marry.  A single pregnant mom.  But they welcomed me into their lives and we were married and had Gavin by the time I was 23, him 24.

Our marriage struggled from the start.  He was an addict and an alcoholic, who would become a little violent when using and horribly mean.  When we dated, I thought it was just something he did because he was young and didn't have a family of his own to worry about and take care of, but he continued down that path and it became a real problem for me and for the kids, especially my firstborn.  We started to fight, and the love went out of our marriage really quickly after that.  I was left alone, all night after working all day and often on the weekends. He didn't enjoy going to my families house-so I would do family things without him including vacations unless it was to visit his grandparents in Alabama for Thanksgiving/Christmas.  That was one of the best parts of our year, traveling to Alabama to visit his grandparents on both sides of the family, the Dawson's and the York's.  They were also very welcoming, loving, and generous.

After we were married and Gavin was born, his grandma and grandpa Dawson's purchased five acres in Newberry for us to start our life together, in our own home.  We bought a manufactured home and set up shop.  I thought for sure, living further away from Gainesville and the pull of that life-style he would stop doing some of the things he was doing, but it just progressively got worse.

I got distant from him being alone all the time and I emotionally got caught up in a new person as our relationship broke down.  This of course caused us more issues, and looking back I wish I would have just left right away and not allowed things to spiral out of control.  I never was able to tell him I was sorry for the pain I caused him, and I won't get that chance ever again.  I did end up leaving one evening after an abusive fight where I was being choked and my young daughter yelling "don't kill my mom".  I knew I couldn't say there any longer.  I had to leave, and so I did to save all of our lives.

As the years went on, I was off living my new life & he was still in our old home in Newberry.  Gavin would visit him every other weekend for a while, but there were several turns of events that changed Ralph's life forever.  His father passed away, Christmas Eve 2003-he was just 48 years old.  A few years later, Ralph was in a car accident that caused him to sustain a traumatic back injury that left him in constant pain.  Eventually he lost everything, his job as an RN at a local hospital, his new wife and the daughter they had between them-as that relationship couldn't survive under his addictions either.  He just progressively got worse and worst, where he was getting in trouble with the law, moving other users into his home which is now unlivable and eventually losing his life to his disease/addiction on Friday, October 4, 2019 just shy of his 47th birthday.

When Gavin called me to tell me about the passing of his father, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was honestly devastated, I just couldn't stop thinking about his beautiful mom and sister and the agony they were going through knowing they not only lost their son/brother but how they lost him.  My heart was broken for my son.  I had not seen Ralph since the photos posted below, but every time someone in my family would run into him they would call me and tell me they saw him, and either tell me "he looked so much better..." or "oh Lela he looks so rough......is there anything you think we can do?".  But there isn't anything anyone could have done.

His mom took care of Ralph's basic needs the best she could, without getting too involved in his addiction.  It was very hard on her to help her son out, especially when people would say she was just enabling him.  But what do you do, when your only son-your firstborn needs you?  You do the best you can for them & so she did.  I told you she was a wonderful person.  I am just better knowing her and having her in my life.  My son is a lucky young man to have such a strong, persevering woman in his corner.

Goodbye Ralph, though our story was short I will remember you always the way you were when you were 21-even though you are forever 46.

(this post is ongoing-I will post photos of Gavin and his father when he was young soon).





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