Until he found the lifeless body of his son on the bedroom floor Friday morning, Joe Frocklage had no room in his heart for hate.
At just 46 years old, Joseph Edwin Audie Foy, best know to friends and family as “Bear,” died from what is believed to be a heroin/fentanyl overdose, a drug he’s thought to have used a short time earlier.
“When we were growing up my parents never raised us to hate and I could never say that I hated any person, no one, but that’s all changed,” said Frocklage, as he looked down at the spilled container of marijuana believed to be laced with the opiate that was found in Bear’s jacket pocket that day. “They’re murdering our kids with this shit. It’s got to stop. I mean how many people are sitting there just like us and their kids are dying over this shit, I can’t believe it.
“How many mothers are crying like my wife and saying ‘I can’t believe this,’ how many fathers are doing the same thing and brothers and sisters, but I want to take all my hurt all my anger, everything and put it into some good.”
Bear, who got the nickname from the cereal he loved as a child, was living at his parent’s Winnipeg Street apartment until he could get a place of his own after Christmas.
According to Frocklage his son came home about 1:30 a.m. with a “street” woman and it was about four hours later when his mother Carolyne went to the room to check on him that she became concerned.
“For some reason she had that gut feeling that something was wrong and then she came to me and there was fear in her face and she said: ‘I can’t wake him up.’
“I went in and right away it dawned on me this is not right. I shook him once, nothing, twice nothing and the third time I really shook him and tried to feel him breathing, but nothing.”
At that point Frocklage knew he couldn’t do anything more.
“I touched his skin, he was cold, so, so cold. I never want to see that again.”
He called 911 and went to a neighbour for help and they both tried CPR until the ambulance arrived moments later.
“The ambulance driver came out of the room and he looked at both of us (he and Carolyne) and said; ‘he’s dead, he’s passed away,’” recalled Frocklage.
If the death was a result of fentanyl, it is the second in about three weeks in what is turning out to be a near-epidemic spike in opiate overdoses in Penticton.
“I still lie on the bed and turn around and look down the hall, the bathroom light’s on and wait for Bear to come out the door but he doesn’t and then I just start to cry,” said Frocklage. “My nephew died two months ago today, he overdosed in Kelowna, we tried oh so much to help and now our son … our kids are being wiped out, that’s just not right.
“I yell and scream and when I feel like I have no more tears but they just come in buckets. My boy was a good boy, he had a great heart, he had a problem, it was a bad problem but he didn’t mean to do it.”
As a way to funnel the negative energy back into something positive Frocklage has set up a Gofundme page (www.gofundme.com/families-against-drugs-alcohol).
“I want this money to go and help people like us, people who have no money, on a small pension and can’t hardly even afford to bury their loved one,” he said. “We’ve got to conquer this thing, all of us parents and police and conquer this thing.
“We need to keep our heads up and we pray, ‘God you did this for a reason we don’t know now why and I know we’ll never find out while we’re alive,’ but we’ve got to keep up our faith.”
Chris Elliott knew Bear well and was still mourning the loss of another close and longtime friend and mother Melissa, who was the other recent overdose fatality.
Read more: More overdoses as fentanyl epidemic grows
“You’re just trying to grieve for one and another one dies,” said Elliott Tuesday morning while walking to Grace Church for a community breakfast. “It’s pretty tense out there right now. It is very sad, that was the feeling I had when I was walking in the back allies last night near Cheers the Church and you think about the people who are staying there and if that place wasn’t open they might go and get a hit and that could be their last. It’s like Russian roulette with a syringe, it’s suicide.
“It’s been a bad year and we’ve lost a lot of friends and we should learn from that.”
Elliott uses his own home to help others in need on their journey.
“Bear was a caring person and he’ll be missed,” he said. “I don’t want people who are using (at his home), but I do worry about them I also worry because it could be kids going to high school.”
Elliott regularly does walk arounds in the downtown to let people know about shelters and where to get help.
“There are just more and more homeless and it’s really frustrating that there are not enough places to house them.”