Hello, my name is Jason Ebert. I’ve been married to my best friend for almost 16 years and have two children any parent would be proud of. Like half our nation, I grew up in a broken home. I lived with my mother and saw my father every other weekend until I turned 18 and we could hang out whenever we wanted. He’d always be at my baseball games, he’d follow us to basketball tournaments and we’d fish at our family’s cottage at the lake. A year after he moved to the same city my wife and I lived in my career took me to Savannah, GA. He was sad to see me go but knew the opportunity was worth packing up and moving 1500 miles away. We’d talk weekly and share what was happening. Over the next couple years his knees would fail him and he was bound to a motorized scooter. Care takers would stop in twice a day to help him with daily tasks and getting in and out of bed. But we’d always talk.
Then, on December 12, 2018 my world came crashing down. My father, the man I looked up to, the man who protected me, the man who always supported me, completed suicide.
I was at work and got a phone call from my wife telling me I needed to come home. Based on the tone of her voice I knew I was about to learn something terrible. To this day I don’t know how she had the strength to tell me, I can’t imagine being in her shoes at that moment. She continues to be my rock. The two weeks following that conversation are still a blur. I even can’t remember Christmas with my children that year. I struggle. I struggle with my father’s decision every day. I struggle with the guilt. I struggle with the “what if”. I struggle with the why. I struggle not being there for my sister as she had to go through his things. I’m angry. I’m angry with his doctors. I’m angry with his care takers. I’m angry with the VA, as a veteran of the Vietnam War they should have given him better care. I apologize. I apologize I couldn’t help him. I apologize that my children won’t get to grow up knowing him. I apologize for not always being present with my family because my mind wonders to memories of my dad.
I initially tried counseling but found it only helped redirect my focus and taught me how to fight the tears if they showed up at an inopportune time. It helped deal with the waves of emotion that come but didn’t help me heal.
Then I found a Survivors of Suicide support group. It’s there I was able to share my pain and listen to others who have experienced the same agony. Death is hard but losing a loved one to suicide is a pain that is truly only understood by those who have suffered the same loss. A pain I would wish on no one. The group taught me its OK, whatever emotions or feelings I’m having, its OK. I heard stories that absolutely broke my heart. I see the pain in their eyes, it’s the same I see when I look in the mirror. I listen to how the manage to get through today and the next day. They braced me for what I would go through. They warned me the second year would be worse than the first, and they were correct.
As I continue through the journey of healing, I have found it beneficial to offer my insight and empathy to those who have been affected by suicide. Whether it’s as simple as listening or me letting them know its OK, whatever they are feeling, its OK. There is no playbook, no guidelines, no “how to” book on dealing with something so traumatic, but a little coaching can go a long way. If I’m able ease someone else’s pain or share their burden I feel I’m finding light in something so terribly dark.
When I’m not actively trying to help others, I find I cope better when I am busy and my mind is occupied. I grew up playing poker, from sitting with my dad and grandparents around a small kitchen table to a regular cash game and tournaments wherever I could find them. That passion for the game led to a passion for the tables it’s played on.
I had made several tables for myself and close friends, mostly as favors and something to occupy my mind. My dad was a proponent of following your dreams so last year I turned that hobby into Action Custom Feltz, LLC. We build 100% custom poker tables tailored to the unique taste and style of each client. My clients can choose to work with us every step of the way or they can give us an idea and let us get creative.
It’s very therapeutic to create such beautiful tables with your bare hands and see the awe in my clients’ eyes as they see their table for the first time. It’s also therapeutic to know I’m giving back. I am excited to announce that a portion of each sale will now be donated to SAVE.org, an organization trying to help…to help those who may be troubled and to help those who are hurting. I am very pleased to partner with and contribute to an organization that simply understands. And I know my dad would be proud having his son paying it forward.