Geneseo family speaks after youngest son's death
Alex Joseph is from a small town in Vermont so when he and his wife were looking for a place to raise their two boys they thought Geneseo would be the perfect place. The Josephs moved to Illinois just four or five months ago and hadn't had a chance to meet many of their neighbors.
"So when this all happened we thought we were going through this alone, and that couldn't have been further from the truth, we were going through this with the whole community," Joseph told KWQC.
Carter and his mother were hit by a car in a freak accident in a church parking lot on February 28th.
Just a few weeks before the accident, Alex took several portraits of his youngest son for a project Carter had at school.
"I said do you want to get in front of the camera for daddy, and he jumped on a pelican and started taking poses and I don't know where he got that from spreading his arms out and making faces and being a ham and just a strange moment that he just came out of his shell for a minute and those photos are only a couple weeks old now....he gave us that moment to see all these different layers," says Joseph.
The week before the accident Alex says he and Carter did extra things Alex usually doesn't get to do as a busy dad. "The week prior to Carter's death we had a really good week, we went to the movies, we did extra things I don't usually get to do as a busy dad. I took him to his doctors' appointment instead of going to work, we did projects together," he said.
"The day that he got in the accident we made pancakes and the last thing he said 'these are delicious and I love you,' you just never know when that day is going to come if it's going to come," he said holding back tears.
Alex says the hardest thing about being a father now that his three-year-old son is gone is making sure his five-year-old son Hudson is processing everything, getting the attention he needs and expressing himself.
"You feel like you just had your guts but you still have a five year old who wants to make art on the sidewalk. so that's probably the hardest part is trying to stay cheery and enjoy yourself and make sure you're available for your other son," he says.
Last week Alex and his wife Kelly had to make a difficult decision.
"We had to choose to take Carter off life support. and um all the medical professionals there were in agreement there was no chance for Carter to survive at that point." The Joseph's say they are grateful that their community was there for them. "When we finally came to the realization that we had to let Carter go we were welcomed back here with support and love. We were able to make that decision knowing this community was here for us," he says the community support helped them get through this unimaginable pain.
"So many things started getting donated here in town people's time and effort. that even a lot of the funeral expenses that we were starting to accumulate were being taken care of for us. and so we really wanted to pivot this attention back on Geneseo and the community here. There was nothing we felt right doing with the money besides honoring Carter."
And as a way of giving back, they are launching an organization called
as their way of giving back to the community that has been by their side, while also honoring their son's passion and love for life and art.
"Kelly(Carter's mom) is working through it in her own way. I've poured myself into this foundation and this community. We came home from the chaos of the accident and the hospital and it was so quiet at our house. and you just sit with and starting thinking how are you going to grieve and cope and for me that was building websites and go fund me and starting to create something that -- we felt so loved by this community that we wanted to make sure that we loved them back."
Joseph describes Carter as a spitfire who didn't like rules or adhering to restrictions. "But he would always get really quiet when he had a marker or a paint brush, or glue, oh he loved glue," he added.
His grandma called Carter her little artist. "He's painted entire closet we've spent a lot of money repairing Carter's artwork," he said nostalgically.
So the Josephs wanted to create a space where kids could be creative and unrestricted.
"In some regard, I'm trying to keep him alive and so having a place where kids can come and do that and see that would be great to see a little bit of him," Alex says as long as the foundation remains funded. Carter will be alive and well in Geneseo and hopefully making messes all over town.