He graduated from Davie High School in Mocksville, NC in 1994 with Honors and was accepted to Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee. He never really had a steady girlfriend in high school but had many wonderful friends. We had three dogs, Mindy, Molly, and Jessica. We called them dumpster dogs, because people had abandoned them in our yard. He loved them all!! He went off to college in the fall of 1994 and loved Vandy!! He made some new and wonderful friends there. He was a life time member of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity and worked with the Habitat for Humanity and other community endeavors.
He majored in political science with great interest in politics and had great ambitions in this field in his future. He ran for Mayor of our little town in NC in 1997. He was a junior in college at the time, but he mostly wanted the experience. It was a great campaign and there was much controversy as his running mate was 72 years of age and Dusty was 21. The age factor played a huge role in the news of the campaign of both parties. He lost the election, but gained 17% of the vote. He was pleased with the experience. He worked on several other candidate's political campaigns in our area and in Nashville, and was very active in his party. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 1998 and loved Nashville so much that he wanted to stay there for a while as he made decisions about graduate school. He and one of his roommates got an apartment about one block away from campus.
Dusty took a job with Dillards Department store to make a little money while he made decisions about his future. He missed his dogs, so very much, and we now had two goldfish (Spunky and Striper) that he bought while in college. He missed his pets so much and was not allowed to have dogs in his apartment, so he went out and bought two precious gerbils (Cinnamon and Pepper). He was doing very well at Dillards, and just before his death, he had been promoted and was put on commission. His manager told me when I visited the store after his death that Dusty was working his way up the management ladder at Dillards very quickly. Dusty enjoyed working at Dillards and the company was willing to transfer him when he made a decision about graduate school. This was one of the reasons Dusty chose to work there.
Just before Dusty graduated from college, he met a girl online from Tampa, Florida. They corresponded frequently at first and became friends. The relationship grew to not only online communications, but via telephone and snail mail...swapping pictures sending little presents to each other etc. The relationship continued to grow and Dusty was anxious to meet her, but she didn't want to meet him face to face. Dusty told me that they were both afraid that meeting would somehow spoil the "perfect" relationship. I encouraged him to be cautious with his heart, especially since he had never seen this girl. He was very defensive about her with his friends and me. I decided to back off a bit, so that he would feel comfortable talking to me about her.
Finally, after about a year, they decided that the online relationship was not healthy and they should begin seeing "real" people. Dusty was upset, but I tried to tell him that if this wonderful perfect love was meant to evolve, it would do so in spite of everything that seemed to be a barrier. I encouraged him to let go. So, he began dating a girl in Nashville that he worked with. He told me that he didn't expect it to last, as she was much younger and they weren't exactly on the same page, so to speak. The girl from Tampa continued to e-mail him and call him and they promised to remain friends.
I remarried in May of 1999 after a two year courtship with a most wonderful man who now is my husband, Bill. Dusty and Bill had formed a wonderful relationship and Dusty was very happy for us!! I asked him to give me away at my wedding, which he did and was so very handsome and wonderful!! He wanted to stay at my apartment while we were on our honeymoon and baby-sit his dogs and fish while we were gone. He hated the thought of them being put in a kennel. So, he brought his gerbils and baby-sat the entire week. We returned and he left to go back to Nashville.
His birthday was a week and half later, and he couldn't decide what he wanted from us for his birthday, but he said he would decide and let us know. By the time his birthday arrived, he still had not decided and told me to wait to send money when he decided. I sent his birthday cards on time and waited patiently for his request. On Friday 6/4/99, he called me and he had decided on a fishing rod. He loved to fish and had begun to find some wonderful places in and around Nashville. So, I was glad he had decided and I was going to deposit money in his checking account on Monday and I told him to add a couple of pairs of new slacks to his gift.
During this telephone call, he mentioned his friend from Tampa and he said he thought they might be getting their relationship back on track, but he was not sure. I asked him how he was feeling with all that, and he said he was fine. My Mom and Dad talked to him on Sunday in the early evening and he was fine.
He loved to watch wrestling on TV and he was doing just that when they called. A friend that he had not seen since graduation had been in town for the weekend and he had gone out both Friday and Saturday night with friends. He loved country music and he loved karaoke, so they had had FUN over the weekend. He went out to dinner on Sunday evening with his roommate and his girlfriend. They returned home around 10:30PM. At 4:00AM the next morning, his roommate got up to go to the bathroom and saw Dusty's light on. Dusty had to work on Monday, so his roommate went in to check on him and found him hanging in his closet. He left a note, and the first three sentences of the note were about the girl in Tampa. He said that if we wanted to know why he was doing this, just to ask her.
The last long distance telephone call he made was to her at 10:44PM on June 7, 1999. I have since discovered that Dusty's heart was desperately broken that late Sunday night in June. He took his life in the crisis and desperation of the moment.
The police came to me at work on Monday at 11:30AM and told me that my son had been found dead in his apartment by suicide. The local policeman that came to tell me was wonderfully compassionate and was prepared with all of the information that I would need. Of course, from that moment on, I was not even coherent to this world. My wonderful husband took control and helped through the steps that I made those first few days. We went to my parents to tell them, and I was so afraid that my Dad would die of a heart attack. They are 81 years old, but in good health. The sun rose and set in their grandson.
Somehow, we managed to make all the preparations for the funeral. Dusty did not want to be cremated as we had discussed those things from time to time. So, we had him flown back to NC and had the funeral in the town that he grew up in and at the church that he was raised in and an active member.
Dusty was a wonderful child and teenager and young man. He was never depressed and never gave us trouble. He was kind, caring, gentle, loving, loyal, funny, and fun to be with. All of the wonderful things any child can be.
As he became a young adult, he became my best friend as well. We shared a wonderful 23 years together. He was a great soul and I am blessed to have loved and known him. I am thankful each and every day to have loved him and known his love. A loving son and loyal friend to all that knew him. His light shines eternal.
05/30/76 - 06/07/99