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A Mother's Words

Katherine gave one of the longest but most poignant elocutions heard in the Travis County courthouse- I noticed several of the clerks crying as she spoke.

Here are her words to the man who killed her son-

"Let me begin by saying that I don't hate you. I do hate the stupid choices you made that took Joel from us. You are a grown man and no stranger to drunk driving. You had to know you were drunk when you got behind the wheel of your car that night. And yet even with all the warnings we get from ads, television , MADD, etc., you had the arrogance to try to drive anyway. I feel much sympathy and compassion for your family. They will do their share of suffering. I can feel no sympathy for you.

You have devastated our family. All I had was my three boys, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren. You have taken away a most essential part of that small family. I haven't slept through the night since I got that terrible phone call except for a short time while I was on medication. One of my boys told me that I aged twenty years the day Joel died. I left my job to move to the Austin area because I felt a great need to be closer to the proceedings and my family here. And to the new family I have found in Joel's friends. I still feel his presence in his beloved Red River district but will never see him again, never feel one of his great hugs.

Joel's brothers and I are still shattered by his passing. His sister-in-law has also lost a brother. His niece and nephew have lost a most loving Uncle Joey. He loved them so much and what a great uncle he was. Playing with them on their level, never condescending. Although he never shopped for Christmas presents until the last minute, you knew he had put a lot of thought into it and always came up with the perfect present….one totally unique for the person he gave it to. Never too busy to go with them to Schlitterbaun or Zilker Park at Christmas. He was so loved. He would try to call me once a week to see how I was doing and to let me know what was going on in his life and let me know he loved me. I started smiling whenever I saw his number pop up on my caller ID because I knew when I answered that he would have something silly to say to start off the conversation to make me laugh.

Handsome Joel. That is how he was and is known to us. A handsome man with a beautiful soul. As one song that was written for him states - a golden soul. People as special as Joel come along rarely. This is who you have taken from us.

I want you to know what kind of person you killed that night. Joel was the coolest guy in the world. Very laid back. Very open to everyone. He accepted everyone as they were, not from other people's perceptions of who they were. He would do anything he could to help you out. I can't tell you how many people I have heard from who told me how he let them camp out on his couch when they had no other place to stay or from musicians from all over the country who he helped out with a place to stay, a home cooked meal or even help getting to their next gig never asking for anything in return. The musicians loved him for his generosity and professionalism. All his ladies that told me he was a true gentleman. When Joel was around they felt protected. What a big thing that is for a young woman. I know how they felt. I would have felt safe with Joel anywhere. He never talked bad about anyone. He had so many friends. There were over 1500 people at his service. I have heard from many more who were unable to come. There were way too many to fit into the funeral home. They stood in line for two hours to have a chance to see him one last time and say goodbye to him. He was an organ donor because we could not see that he would be any less generous in death than he was in life. I have struggled with how I can make you understand how many lives you have touched by your
senseless act.

He was very funny in a goofy sort of way. Always a smile on his face, he was the one to make you feel better. Whenever he was on tour with a band, he would send me post cards with silly little notes to make me smile or insights into his life on the road. On one occasion even post cards he had made himself by pasting a picture onto a piece of cardboard. He would bring me back a mug, send me autographed pictures anything to let me know he was thinking of me.

He'd call to ask me down to Austin if there was someone playing he thought I would like or if he was in the Dallas area, he'd ask me to a show so that we could spend some time together. He was so kind and thoughtful, so generous with his time and possessions. One of my favorite pictures of Joel is him standing with his arms wide open by a lake. That is so Joel. His arms open to embrace the world. As if he is saying "Come on over here and get your hug". Joel was the stage manager at a club on Red River. To some people that might seem as though his life was less significant than if he wore a suit to work every day. Any life is precious and his was especially so. Let me assure you that he had a positive influence on far more people than most of us.

He was all about the music and his large family. He loved music, musicians and the whole music scene. All kinds of music - from classic country to indie rock. He met many celebrities over the years but reacted to them as he would to anyone else. There was only one I can remember that he spoke of with reverence. He told me more than once that the Red River area was like a small family. He meant it. We never considered having his services anywhere else but Austin where he was so much at home, where his friends became the Austin branch of his family. When you were his friend, you were his friend for life. He made everyone feel special and was sincere in doing that. Each and everyone was special to Joel. He was a good cook and enjoyed cooking a meal for his friends or family. He cooked many meals for bands on their way through town because he knew that money is tight when you are on the road and home cooked meals are few and far between. He enjoyed his beer but was always responsible. He was the one who looked after everyone else to make sure they got home safely. Joel was a ray of sunshine in my life. I am still at a loss as to how I will live the rest of my life without him in it.

I hope that you spend your time in prison reflecting on what you have done, on what you have put your family through and what you are putting Joel's family through and when you are released you consider possible consequences before you act.

You have taken something from us that can never be replaced and we will feel the pain of that for the rest of our lives."

Katherine

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