R.I.P. Little Dude

My last post was about my new suit and two Billy’s that featured a section on my nephew Bill. Two days after that post he lost his 16 year old son Joel to a car accident on a slippery road in northern Illinois about an hour north of where I was born. His name was Joel and he was a great kid that I didn’t get the pleasure of knowing as much as I would’ve liked. We live on the East coast now and with a family of 5 travel does not come cheap so we don’t do it as much as we would like. We did travel out to Seattle in the summer of 2008 to attend my Niece’s sweet 16 birthday party. We already had a planned trip to Vancouver that year and just took a few extra days off and visited in Seattle. It would be our one and only time meeting and spending time with Joel.


My personal experience with him was when he and I played some basketball in my brother’s backyard. It was just he and I playing although everyone was around doing something. We chatted a bit and I noticed that he was super friendly and liked to smile a lot. I liked him instantly and I could tell that he liked me too. While playing I landed on his foot and he twisted his ankle a little which I felt terrible about. He was like 12 and I was 35 playing rough basketball. What kind of a bully prick does that just to win? Seriously though we played for a few more minutes but he was sore and I could tell so we stopped and just dribbled the ball on the court while I asked him about his life. If he had a girlfriend, what he wanted to be when he grew up – you know the stuff you ask all of your young relatives when you see them.


A while later after we were home and when Joel joined Facebook we all became friends with him. I didn’t interact with him too much other than liking some statuses that he posted such as Chicago Bears stuff or maybe some of his posts about work or school. But it was great to watch him grow over those four years and from 12 to 16 is a big growth spurt for any child. He was always posting something silly or funny and I knew that he was a jokester from just the few days that we spent with him. It was very clear from his posts that this was his everyday personality and many enjoyed it.


In the days since his passing I read a lot of his friends comments and posts on his wall and some were posting their condolences and getting out those last words that a Facebook wall allows you to do and some were truly devastated. A close friend of his wrote something about how he would ask her why no girls liked him which is something that I’m sure he would’ve kicked her butt for posting but she said that when he found his girlfriend Ashley (who also died in the crash) that she knew they had something special. In fact a lot of people had said that same thing on his wall. They hadn’t been together for a long time but when you’re that young, even a few months can seem like forever. I can relate. When I was young I was kind of “out” with the ladies and while I did have some girlfriends my friends ALWAYS had girlfriends. I would ask the same question he did – why don’t girls like me? When I was 16 I met my wife Lisa and we did some crazy things those first few months. Sneaking out or in to see each other, driving around aimlessly – it was clear that we were in love. I’m glad Joel found that and while his last year of childhood here came much too soon, he will have eternity to smile and love. Rest well little dude.


About Alton B. Etheridge III

My Last Years of Childhood is about my musings as I relive my childhood in words before I get too old to remember!
This entry was posted in Childhood, Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to R.I.P. Little Dude

  1. Thank you Butch, this is really sweet.

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