For Jeremy: Mother struggles to raise money for a headstone to mark son’s grave
DAYTON – Jeremy Woolman’s 18th birthday is in June. His mother hopes to celebrate by putting a tombstone on his grave.
It’s been four years since Andra Woolman watched her 13-year-old son die from an accidental prescription drug overdose. And what went with him, she said, was her future.
But Woolman keeps going, fueled by a desire to mark her youngest son’s grave with a headstone that carries Jeremy’s picture, an etching of a cheetah, and a lyric he copied on a card the last Mother’s Day he was alive: “Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, love isn’t love till you give it away.”
“I want a really nice one because there’s so many things I couldn’t do for him – like finish raising him,” she said.
To that end, Woolman, who takes care of her mother and is among the legions of unemployed looking for work, crafted a plan to raise the money. She sells whatever she can at yard sales.
In the fall she set up a table at a swap meet in Mound House. Two weeks later, before the weather turned too cool, she had a booth at an event in Dayton.
This spring she will do the same, filling a table with discounted makeup and odd and ends, and propping up a large photograph of her son, smiling in his last class picture.
Thus far she’s saved $1,100 of the $2,500 needed.
At 6:30 a.m. May 27, 2006, Woolman said goodbye to Jeremy as she left their Silver Springs home to go to work. Just before she was to clock out, she said, a neighbor called and told her Jeremy was on her couch, not breathing.
Paramedics were able to get a pulse and get him to the hospital, but he died at 6:13 p.m.
Woolman won a $3.7 million judgment in 2008 against the neighbor for failing to call for help when Jeremy fell ill. But Woolman doesn’t expect to ever see any of that money, and she just finished paying off the $7,500 cost of her son’s funeral.
Standing next to Jeremy’s grave at the Dayton Cemetery on Tuesday, Woolman fiddles with a charm around her neck called a “reunion heart.” It’s a symbol of her belief that she will be reunited with her loved ones in the afterlife.
“Still, there is a big hole in my heart,” she said, “but I’m really looking forward to my reunion day.”
“I’m not afraid to die,” Woolman said. “I used to be, but I haven’t been since the day I watched him die.
“There’s a saying, ‘When you lose your parents you lose your past … when you lose your children, you lose your future.’ And I’ve lost my future. But I know that he’s out there somewhere, with my father, and I’ll see him again.”