WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Margaret Wenger speaks adoringly of her son Curt.
“He was a very beautiful baby and a lovely child, obedient and for a long time he was very happy,” she said as she spoke on the University of Central Oklahoma campus, where she teaches English to international students for another organization.
In California, Curt enjoyed his teachers, school, loved to play soccer and was good enough to be on a team. He found joy in music, especially the classical genre. He mastered the clarinet and the piano, but also found pleasure in listening to music.
Wenger said her son was a well-behaved young man who was jealous of the attention his brother got for being awful. He was good at taking care of his brother.
“Curt was the ideal child,” Wenger said.
In junior high, Curt had a friend who even his mother thought was weird. He and his friend invented their own games. When he entered high school, Curt started losing his joy. He had a rocky relationship with a music instructor and gave up playing the clarinet, but still played the piano.
He had good friends, but he didn’t have a lot of them. He did not want to be “like the fellas,” but he received a lot of positive attention from older female students. He was an excellent mathematician like his father. He hung out with individuals who would be considered social misfits. He wanted to be different.
“He was used to being a nerd and he was comfortable,” Wenger said. “He cultivated that. He tried to be different.”
After Wenger and her husband divorced, Curt spent a lot of time with his father. At one point, when some concerns arose, he was examined by a psychologist who found him to be a normal person.
Curt began to dislike his mother. During a period of several years, he grew darker. His grades were fine when he dropped out of high school; he just didn’t want to go to school anymore. After receiving guidance from his parents, he would later get his GED.
Then Curt became uncommunicative. He would spend hours in his room. And he drew closer to the aforementioned friend from junior high, who became one of his few friends. When Curt was about 18 and not living with his mother, she learned he was drinking.
At one point, Wenger told Curt’s father that she thought they should intervene. After that, Curt began attempting to kill himself. His parents took him everywhere seeking professional help, but she was told they could not keep him since he was not a threat to himself or others.
One day, during an incident at her home, Curt became physical with his mother and was choking her. She was able to call for his stepfather. Curt stopped and left.
“That was the last time I saw him alive,” Wenger said as she vividly recalled the incident.
Wenger was an assistant principal at a California school, located about 53 miles from her home and about 40 miles from her ex-husband’s workplace. One day she went out for yard duty and saw her ex-husband standing there. She knew why he had come.
“I was numb,” she said of hearing that her son had committed suicide. “I didn’t cry. I hollered when he told me.”
Wenger said Curt had stolen a credit card from his father and disappeared. He bought many of his favorite things, rented a swanky hotel in upper-class Los Angeles by the week. He partied and drank. One night, when he had not paid for the week, the hotel manager noticed the door was locked and called the police. He was found dead in the room. Curt was nearing his 21st birthday.
Wenger closed off her emotions. Her mind took over and she started thinking about all the things she had to do before the end of the day. For a long time she focused on the moment: Administrative tasks to finish before she could leave, other tasks to do, planning the funeral, how to tell relatives.
After hearing the news she went home and found eight messages on her phone. She couldn’t bear the idea of answering them and tossed it across the room. Then she grieved.
Curt had saved papers he considered important — diaries, journals, essays — and kept them in a box. Wenger went through every line of every paper and often cried during the experience. What she read gave her insight into his emotional state of mind.
Wenger said when someone asked Curt’s brother how it felt that Curt was in hell (for taking his own life), his brother said, “You don’t understand. He didn’t go to hell, he left hell.”
“And I started to realize that that’s probably true,” Wenger said. “And that took away all the anger. It was his life and it was his private hell. He chose to end it that way. That was OK with me. That was his choice. I can’t say that I’m not gonna grieve, but I can say I’m not mad anymore.”
Wenger, now age 74, said she still is not sure that she has her head back together again. Several times during the interview she paused as emotions welled up inside her.
“Anybody who’s been through this will tell you time does not heal it, and it doesn’t,” she said. “It gives you coping mechanisms. It enables you to cope better with the pain.”
Forgiving her son helped free her from the pain, she said.
Stakeholders offer Feb. 16 suicide prevention workshop
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Margaret Wenger speaks adoringly of her son Curt.
- Local News
Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage
Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
“It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
“If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
“We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
“I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.
Firefighters sharpen forced entry skills
Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, according to recent FBI statistics.
As a result, many home and businesses are installing a greater number of complex mechanisms on their doors and windows. Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam said 10 local firefighters recently sharpened their skills during a forcible entry class offered by IRONS and LADDERS, LLC., of Lawrence, Kan.
Preparing for a fall home garden
Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.
OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day
In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
“Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”
Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint
The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.
Women aided in Afghanistan, Rwanda through AT&T
AT&T renewed its support for the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program Wednesday by making a $125,000 contribution to the program at Lakeside Women’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
AT&T has been a major supporter of Peace through Business since its inception in 2007, said Steve Hahn, the new president of AT&T Oklahoma.
Salvation Army pantry closes until September
Due to an increase of need, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma County has distributed all of its food supply. July 23 was the last day of the food pantry operations. In preparation for the move to the Center of Hope at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, The Salvation Army Client Choice Pantry will not resume operations until September.
Payne Co. crash sends Guthrie man to hospital
A two-vehicle crash in Payne County sent a Guthrie man to a local hospital, a trooper stated.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper James Ritze stated a 2005 Jeep SUV and a 2013 Ford pickup were about a mile east of Perkins headed west on State Highway 33. When the pickup slowed for a truck pulling out of a private drive, the SUV struck the rear of the pickup, Ritze stated.
Second Street to get new 7-Eleven
The amended site plan for a new 7-Eleven Convenience Store was approved by the Edmond Planning Commission this week by a vote of 4-0.
Guard adds jobs, revenue to Oklahoma
During a Wednesday morning press conference at Joint Force Headquarters, members of the Guard touted the findings of an in-depth study addressing impacts the organization has in areas including gross state product, employment and tax revenue.
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- Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage