Tattoos usually inform a deeper story than what seems on the floor.
As a U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class, it solely made sense for Jonathan Lesko to ink the highest half of his arm with a big, colourful ship floating on vibrant blue waves with two pink birds beneath. Nevertheless, his mother Diane Lesko mentioned she was by no means a lot of a tattoo particular person. As a mother of three boys, nevertheless, Diane had realized to let some issues go.
She mentioned her son was her personal “private Google.” He absorbed random information from exhibits or articles he learn and will rattle them off instantaneously. Whereas his humorousness stood out in a crowd, Diane fondly remembers his beneficiant aspect – a aspect that confirmed by way of when passing a homeless man on the aspect of the highway or in easy courtesies resembling at all times taking the grocery cart again inside as an alternative of leaving it within the parking zone.
On Sept. 26, 2013, Jonathan died by suicide at his condominium in Virginia Seashore whereas serving his nation on the united statesGeorge H.W. Bush. Diane turned a part of a bunch she by no means anticipated, a Gold Star father or mother.
“I need folks to deal with the truth that it is not how they died, nevertheless it’s how they lived,” Diane mentioned about women and men who die whereas in service.
Jonathan enlisted within the Navy at 19 years previous after ending one yr of faculty. Diane didn’t keep in mind him mentioning becoming a member of the navy earlier than, however she knew certainly one of his favourite films was Saving Personal Ryan and he frolicked enjoying Name of Responsibility along with his brothers, so the choice made sense to her. She thought it was a step in the fitting route for Jonathan.
Diane knew Jonathan was a tough employee whereas on the ship and infrequently took up further duties when requested. Even within the midst of lengthy workdays, after weeks at sea, Jonathan at all times made an effort to name dwelling.
“He would nonetheless name me perhaps a couple of times every week and we talked for an hour or extra,” Diane mentioned. “He was so humorous; and we might have these critical conversations however foolish, goofy, too and we had the identical humorousness.”
The day Diane got here dwelling from the fitness center to the information that her son took his personal life, a way of shock and confusion coursed by way of her. She requested the particular person on the opposite finish of the road if she wanted to determine her son and he or she was informed his navy I.D. was sufficient affirmation. Diane endured and supplied to ship a photograph of Jonathan’s new tattoo to ensure they’d the proper particular person.
The photograph of the tattoo matched.
The evening earlier than she had spent an hour speaking with Jonathan. She mentioned he loved sharing his social life on their calls, a lot in order that Diane felt like she knew every of his pals despite the fact that she hadn’t met them. She recalled he spoke about going to a birthday celebration that evening, his plans to go to dwelling for Christmas and his lack of sleep and exhaustion from overwork. He had informed her he generally he went days with out sleep as a result of he did not have time.
Only a few weeks after Jonathan’s dying, Michael Lesko, the youngest of her three sons, sat down along with his mother and informed her he needed to affix the Marines. “The place’s the air? The place’s the oxygen that I must breathe?” Diane felt panic in that second.
However Diane knew if she mentioned no, it will make him much more persistent. Michael was solely a junior in highschool and must full additional credit to graduate early and enlist. Diane informed him she would signal the paperwork if he handed the additional courses.
Michael was profitable and accomplished the necessities. He joined the Marines.
“Why the Marines? Effectively, they’re smaller, tighter and so they’re the little brothers to the Navy,” Diane defined.
Michael known as his mother at some point whereas stationed in Hawaii. He informed her he received Jonathan’s identical tattoo, besides it coated his again. Diane, who nonetheless didn’t like tattoos, couldn’t be upset with him for that. “I simply felt like he is carrying his brother on his again,” Diane mentioned.
It has been greater than seven years, however Diane mentioned there are lots of robust days when she finds herself grieving for her son. Nevertheless, she determined she will stay her life in a method that honors Jonathan.
“If there’s one factor you are able to do day by day to honor the one you love, it simply helps,” Diane mentioned. When she moved to Charleston over three years in the past, she began volunteering with East Cooper Neighborhood Outreach as a result of Jonathan cared concerning the hungry.
Diane turned concerned with Tragedy Help Program for Survivors (TAPS), which offers sources for households of service members who misplaced their lives. Now, she serves on the survivor care workforce and walks alongside these within the grieving course of for a few years.
“We wish to give them that house the place they’ll discuss their grief, they’ll discuss their loss and so they can honor their beloved one,” Diane mentioned.
In September 2019, three sailors died by suicide on the united statesBush. Diane learn article after article to be taught extra concerning the people and their households, feeling the load of the grief they had been experiencing. She got here throughout an interview of a sailor who had labored on the ship for a few years. Diane knew his title sounded acquainted. As she recalled the numerous cellphone calls with Jonathan about his pals and realized he was certainly one of Jonathan’s companions.
She reached out to him on Fb and shared that she was Jonathan Lesko’s mother.
He responded nearly instantly and mentioned the message introduced tears to his eyes. He shared with Diane that he received the identical tattoo as Jonathan to honor his life and one other sailor on the ship did the identical.
The 2 stay shut. Diane mentioned he known as her on Mom’s Day to test in. They reminisce about Jonathan, particularly his humorousness. The sailor mentioned he thought he was the funniest particular person on board till Lesko got here alongside.
Diane agrees that Jonathan’s humor stands out. She mentioned he was the “tears working down your face type of humorous.” He at all times made a bunch snort by way of his imitations or film line quotes.
Three people now bear the mark of Jonathan and carry his legacy all through their lives. When requested “What does your tattoo imply?” they’ll share the story of a humorous pal, beneficiant particular person and honorable service member.
Should you or somebody could also be scuffling with suicidal ideas, you possibly can name the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or chat on-line at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. You’ll be linked to a talented, skilled counselor in your space and the sources are free and confidential.