Our story – my story written by the oldest daughter, Erin
First, the name ‘Ampie’ the name given to my father by my son and the name his 3 grandchildren called him. Spencer, Caleb, and Bella; my father’s pride and joy and honestly the three little ones that could put that oh so famous smile back on his face, that could make him laugh from his belly and was a huge reason he endured the internal pain he struggled with. From the outside, it would appear he had everything; a loving wife that was the ultimate example of unconditional love, four children that fought for his sobriety, his mental wellbeing and want to live. A job he climbed the ladder of success for and worked to prove his knowledge and skill day and night. Looking in over the years you thought he had it all but living inside our house was the truth; my dad suffered from deep depression, PTSD, anxiety disorder, bipolar and borderline split personality disorder. Mental illness runs in our family- deep rooted in our family and the stories are there to prove it – our stories sadly stayed within that house far too long.
Mental illness has this stigma attached that it needs to be kept a secret, the struggle, the pain associated with the individual and the family. I have learned over the years that talking, sharing and asking for help is the best thing to do for not only the family but the individual, at times fighting to be heard – screaming. We will be walking on September 10th 2017 to break that stigma – to open the lines of communication, to listen to those that need to be heard, to share our story in hope to help others and to let others know that they are not alone and that suicide does not have to be the end result.
On the evening of January 28th, my father thought it was. That night will live with me forever, the phone call of my moms’ screams, the drive over to my parents’ house, everyone that was there – their faces their voices, the police walking in and out of the house, Kevin on his hands and knees scrubbing the blood off the hallway floor that had dripped and then the thought of my dad still in his room and who would take on the task of cleaning his room. My mind was overwhelmed but the first thought was my mom, is she ever going to get through this? My dad shot himself in front of her. Think what you like, everyone will have their own opinion about this. I choose to believe that he didn’t want to be alone that he chose the one person in his life that showed him unconditional love, supported him, that wanted to grow old with him and time and time again no matter what stood by his side. He was not alone. My dad came to my mom two mornings later in a vision; standing tall, no cane no pain, tan, big hair and oh that famous big smile – he was at peace. It was not the answer.
If only….the moments he is going to miss, the questions. This could have me spinning for years so I choose not to go there. We choose to walk for those moments he is going to miss out on;
The list goes on and on and yes we have memories but nearly not enough. Spencer, Caleb, and Bella didn’t have enough time so we walk for them. We will share the person you were dad, the struggles you had and not silence the cause of your death.
I will choose to take a horrible life event and turn it into a positive impact to help others. I choose to become actively involved in the AFSP community, my community, to share my dad’s story. This story includes living with a father who suffered from mental illness and being a survivor of a loved one taken from suicide. We walk today for you dad, Robert L. Turnbaugh, a beloved husband, father and above all ‘AMPIE’.