Ethen Richardson died at eight-years-old after fighting an inoperable brain tumor. His family struggles with the loss every day and thought they could bring back a little joy with a memorial for Ethen, but that just led to more tears.
Ethen’s mother, Brandy Richardson, says, “This was not funny. This was hurtful.”
When Ethen died almost three years ago, the Park West neighborhood told the Richardson family that they wanted to put a memorial bench at Ethen’s favorite pond.
Brandy Richardson says, “Ethen used to fish in this pond all the time. We have a lot of good memories and a lot of pictures.”
It’s a small slab of concrete with a bench on top. It will eventually have flowers planted around it and a shade tree at the back.
Richardson says, “We were very excited to see it finished.”
On Wednesday, the cement was finally poured and the family could hardly wait to check it out.
Richardson says, “We wanted to wait for my husband to come home and my son to come home from school so we could all walk out there and look at it as a family.”
But when they did, what they saw was devastating.
She says, “There were two sets of footprints in it and a lewd drawing over his memorial plaque.”
Ethen’s mother says her emotions went from shock, to anger, to heartbreak.
She says, “It felt like a personal attack toward my deceased child, to see a lewd drawing put over his plaque, where people had stomped all over it, it hurt my feelings really badly.”
She says the footprints were small, so she’s guessing it was vandalized by kids. While she doesn’t want any retribution, she says this could be a valuable teaching moment.
Richardson says, “As a mother, I think that it would be appropriate for the parents to maybe make them write a letter of apology. Not because I need it personally, but as a lesson. Your actions impact other people and it could be in a very hurtful way.”
Fortunately, the company that poured the cement was able to come back out within the day to cover up the vandalism.