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
Local church welcomes new pastor
For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.
Keith, 5 others to receive service awards
The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.
Anderson Properties continues to grow
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties recently announced the acquisition of Tulsa-based Prudential Alliance Realty, an eight-office, 150-agent brokerage operating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Edmond.
The transaction gives Anderson Properties, a full-service real estate agency a total of 38 offices and more than 600 agents.
Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one
Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.
Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency
Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.
5-year-old learns valuable lessons
It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
“I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.
Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated
When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
“When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.
OC welcomes missionary, military families
For the ninth consecutive year Oklahoma Christian University will host missionary and military families returning to the United States at Global Reunion 2014.
The July 23-27 camp has doubled in size in the last two years with 150 participants from 43 countries on campus.
The camp is for children who are known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) though parents are allowed to attend sessions as well. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 10 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.
Planning Commission approves rezoning
The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district. Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
“They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”
Out of the stressful wreckage: Scholarships for car crash victims
After the dust has settled, the injuries have healed and there’s a replacement car in the driveway, victims of automobile accidents often still face an uphill battle trying to move on with their lives. According to psychologists, for some the fear never really goes away. It’s common enough that the National Institutes of Health gives physicians specific recommendations for patients exhibiting acute stress symptoms and PTSD after motor vehicle accidents. With more than 3 million injury accidents a year nationwide, the San Francisco Bay Area personal injury law firm Appel Law Firm LLP, sees their share of the aftermath — only they decided to do something about it.
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