Father of Ashland teen remembers son as friend to everyone

John Meadows speaks in his kitchen Sunday afternoon. Meadows' son, Jacob, took his own life a week ago.

John Meadows opens the door to his son's room and a cart full of gourds dominates the space.

"We grew those ourselves," he said. "Some of his friends were interested in taking some to remember him."

It has been six days since Jacob Meadows, 17, took his own life while police investigated a threatening text he allegedly sent. Officials closed Southern Boone High School on Tuesday to search for anything dangerous and found nothing. Grief counselors were on hand when classes resumed Wednesday.

"I can't make any sense of it and there will probably never be any sense made," Meadows says.

The acoutrements of a high school student's life are still in Jacob's room: A folder labeled "English" here. A lava lamp there. A copy of James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small" on a stool in the corner. A book titled "Alto Saxophone Standard of Excellence" under the nightstand. A recorder by the door.

John said Jacob loved music more than anything else. He named the instruments his son could play: Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, saxophone, harmonica, mouth harp, recorder. He said music was the one activity Jacob, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, could completely devote his thoughts to.

"When he played music, that was the only time that he was at peace, because I think that's when all those converging lines of thought found their expression," he said.

Meadows said Jacob was bullied as a young child because of his ADHD, but that began to change after he joined Southern Boone High School's marching band. John said the band welcomed him and gave him a circle of friends he had never had before. After that, Jacob enjoyed going to school again and soon made friends with virtually everyone. The day of his memorial service, John said the entire marching band turned out in full regalia along with numerous other students and staff. He said the line extended out the church door, through the parking lot and into the street.

"It meant more to me than those kids can ever know," he said.

John said Jacob's friendship extended to all living creatures. He said Jacob often stopped his friends from stepping on bugs. He raised an abandoned baby robin on cat food until the robin grew up and flew away a couple weeks ago. Another time, he cared for a young squirrel until it too was ready for life in the wild.

John said he has gone over the events of Monday night and Tuesday morning over and over again "until I'm sick." He said he wishes he had listened more closely to his son and been a little bit more sensitive considering his son's age.

"Listen to your children," he said. "Listen to your children's friends, because sometimes your children's friends will clue you in on some stuff that your son or daughter won't tell you. Sit down with them and see what the situation is. But get it across to them that you love them, and that you'll do whatever it takes to help them out."