A Mother’s Story
A Mother’s Story by Nancy Pfiester
Introduction by Patti Jo Severson
Last spring, I received a phone call from a woman stating that she wanted to talk with me about the education programs that we offer at NAMI.She stated that she had memorial funds and wanted to make a donation.
So Nancy and I met, over coffee, and I listened. Her son Brad had taken his life earlier this year. “Why didn’t someone tell me?” She wanted to know why she wasn’t told that suicide was a possibility. She wanted to know why providers were not more responsive to her son’s needs and HER needs as a mother. She had many questions, but most of all she wanted to take action so that perhaps, another mother, another family, would not have to live what she was living. And perhaps another young man would live a life her son would not.
So, Nancy Pfiester reviewed the programs and chose the NAMI Parents and Teachers as Allies Program. She decided that, perhaps, a teacher in a classroom might be able to identify another mother’s child, and maybe, just maybe, that child would get the help and support they needed just a little earlier in life, perhaps a distraught mother would be understood a little better, and another young adult would survive.
So here is Nancy’s Story:
I want to tell you about my son. He was the most beautiful baby that ever was, who was not demanding or screaming for attention, but a peaceful and happy child. My son was concerned for those who were less fortunate, especially those who had a physical or mental disability. He had inner-most empathy to want to right the injustices for all types of situations. He had a love for animals, particularly dogs. He had a special bond with his chocolate lab, Tootsie, and our cocker-mix, Goldie.
Brad grew up in Texas in a large Army based community. He enjoyed playing basketball and video games with his neighbor friends and school buddies. He played soccer for the city youth league as his blond hair caught the sun. He played coronet in Middle School Band, and he was part of the ROTC for a time. He got his first taste of working by mowing lawns. He held a few of the typical fast food jobs as a teenager. At around age sixteen he started to experiment with drugs and alcohol. His attendance and grades in school began ot drop. He felt increasing self-blame and pain for what he believed to be was his wrong doing in life events that never seemed to resolve.
My son taught me the joy of watching basketball, In Living Color, Will Farrell, Ali G, George Lopez and Dragon Ball Z. He loved listening to Michael Jackson, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Swisher House, and more recently, groups from Europe’s techno music scene. Brad was becoming interested in visiting Europe to explore culture and architecture. He completed three semesters at University of Wisconsin-Stout Campus. He maintained his body alcohol and drug free at age twenty-three.
I don’t want to live my life without him, but I know I am. The medical and county systems of this community failed to ensure his safety. I believe that I would have my son today if I would have educated myself on the disease called Schizophrenia. Parents and family members need to be taught how to interact with their loved one who may have this serious mental condition. Unfortunately, for over 30,000 victims per year, the signs of suicidal ideation and behaviors go undetected because family and friends are not aware of how to recognize, or render aid, to these sufferers of brain attack.
Mother of William Bradley Pfiester