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For Carrie Always
Two lives, two very different outcomes
« Reply #15 on: Jul 9th, 2005, 06:19am »
have been to visitations and funerals for two people in the past week. One person's death was a natural progression of things. The other passing was definitely not the way life is "supposed" to happen.
On Sunday and Monday, Nancy and I attended services for the mother of a good friend. As Joe said in her eulogy, Thelma Henning was 87 years old and she lived a good life. She was alert and had a sharp sense of humor to the very end.
Joe has lived with her and helped care for her in recent years.
Just before Christmas, Joe and I went to Hot Springs for a night out.
(At the time, I had not met Mrs. Henning.) I tired of the partying long before he did, so he stayed. I came back to Benton.
The next morning, Mrs. Henning called the newspaper office to report that her son had left the night before with a guy who worked at the Courier and had never returned home. And that's what our receptionist came and reported to us. Mrs. Henning didn't tell Tammy that her son was 51 years old.
I called her to tell her that Joe had decided to stay in Hot Springs, but that he was safe. Mrs. Henning thanked me for calling and then said:
"I wonder how he thinks he's going to get home."
Thursday night and Friday, we attended services for Beau Jeremy Ramsey, the son of my first cousin, Dee Tucker.
We believe he was 23 years old when he died. Beau would have been 24 on Aug. 25, 2004.
He was seen by a woman in Benton on the evening of Aug. 17. No one had reported seeing him since then.
Old blue jeans with his keys in the pocket and skeletal remains were discovered in northern Grant County a few hundred feet from the Saline County line on May. 15.
They were identified as Beau's remains a few days later.
The case is being investigated as a homicide by the Arkansas State Police and the Grant County Sheriff's Department, with assistance by the Saline County Sheriff's Department.
Dee has not heard the results of what, if anything, the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was able to discover by having the bones that were the remains of Beau Ramsey examined. They also were sent to an anthropology forensics lab in northwest Arkansas to be studied.
Law enforcement investigators have told Dee that it could be one to three months before lab officials have a report on their findings.
Attending services for Beau brought out different observances from those made at the funeral of an elderly woman.
Watching friends and family pay tribute to her made me keenly aware of my own mortality and that of my parents, whom I am still blessed to have with me.
At Beau's services, I was aware of too many young people. That's part of who you have attending such events when a young person dies. And those young people were hurting, too, just like those of us in middle age and beyond. At an "older" person's funeral, there may be a few young people, but some of them are often there because some very old distant relative died.
Also on Friday I saw my cousin younger than me read poems written to and about her only child who was taken from us. That resonates deeply - my children are 22, 20 and 17.
I saw a father, Jerry Ramsey, with whom I am not close, step to a table in the foyer of a funeral home and sign the guest book at services for his own son.
Beau has been laid to rest, but we have not heard the end of this case - I know my cousin.
Dee didn't stop looking and pushing people until he was found (and neither did friend Donna Gentry, who discovered the blue jeans).
She won't stop this time until Beau's killers are found. Saline County law enforcement people already know this and Grant County and Arkansas State Police officers will know it before this is over.
If you are tired of hearing about all of this, I suspect that, for some of you, it's because you don't like considering the fact that your children could become involved in things that can hurt them. That fact hits me in the face every time I write about Beau.
Dee has been truthful from the beginning about Beau's earlier involvement with illegal drugs. She acknowledges that such involvement may have directly or indirectly led to his death.
It is time for some parents to face that same truth. Dee's only advice would be to face it now and do something about it before it's too late.
Mike Dougherty is city editor of the Benton Courier. His column appears Sunday and Thursday.