January 16, 1968 – March 19, 2003
Everyone had gone out to celebrate my son’s birth. Finally alone with this eight plus pound wonder, I stared into his eyes realizing I was besotted. My words are gone from memory but one stated promise remains: “You will never question my love for you – ever.” Through many ups and downs I kept that promise which supports my heart every day especially since his death barely thirty-five years later.
Named for his grandfathers, “Jimi” laughed as easily as he made others laugh. From early on, Jimi woke with a smile and devoured his expanding world. This sense of curiosity never abated during his too short life. Early to walk, he first preferred rolling across a room to crawling. Walking and running were an early joy. So was hiding in cupboards and closets.
Always up for an adventure, we became great travel buddies. Living in Phoenix, Nashua, NH and Maryland locations, he often led the charge to explore and learn. Jim devoured books on history, Stephen King novels and “how to” books on everything mechanical. He enjoyed repairing anything in a house, on a car as well as doing woodworking. Mechanically oriented, he became an expert on plastic manufacturing equipment.
Jimi’s first brush with death came when he was diagnosed with viral meningitis at age 2 ½. Learning to stand up for him medically would later become one of the hallmarks of our life together. As our family solidified with Jimi and me as members, we had many years of wonderful experiences with family and friends. During a particularly deep snow fall in New Hampshire, we went cross country skiing. It was stunning moving through the quiet hush of apple orchards, around ponds…until we learned our car had been towed due to the snow plow! We walked to a nearby garage only to realize we were standing in the middle of a frozen pond. As typical for us, we fell apart laughing at our foolishness slowly making our way to safety.
The disease that ultimately took Jim’s life is the disease of addiction, known today as substance use disorder. Jim fought it hard having great years along with the bad. Ultimately like other life threatening diseases, it won. Through TCF Jim’s beloved stepdad and I have learned how to parent after death. We are grateful for the many loving friendships that help us keep Jim alive in our hearts as well as in our actions. Truly we never walk alone.
Barbara and Tom Allen, mother and stepfather
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