November 28, 2006 -- Posted at 9:51 PM CST
Paragould, AR -- In July, Paragould native Joe Jones shared his story about his battle with the eating disorder bulimia.
Just two weeks after we aired his interview, Joe died as a direct result of his disease.
Joe's grieving family shared their story in a very candid interview.
His family hopes his story will help others dealing with eating disorders.
"I know that I went from 150 pounds to 100 pounds nearly overnight--I mean it was quick," said Joe Jones, in a July 2006 interview.
Bulimia took hold of 30 year old Joe Jones in his early 20's
"I look at pictures of me and I don't see myself. I see blank eyes and it's just not me," said Joe Jones.
Joe tried to hide his binge-purge addiction for years.
"I got to a point that I said this is so much bigger than me, and I just had to ask God to take it from me," said Joe Jones.
Just when Joe's mind began winning his internal battle... Joe's body gave way to the ravages of his long fought war.
"I walked in his bedroom and I said 'Joe,' his eyes were wide open, and his color was good. I said 'Joe,' and he didn't answer, and I said 'Joe,' I walked over and shook him and then it was obvious that he was dead," said Joe's dad, Mike Jones.
"He seemed so peaceful. Of course, I was terribly sad because I loved Joe so much. I knew he was okay," said Rhonda Jones, Joe's stepmother.
"I take great satisfaction knowing that Joe's okay. Joe's not hurting. Joe doesn't have to worry about his rent being paid....Joe's okay. We have tears, but we cry for ourselves. I don't cry for Joe. I cry because I miss him," said Mike Jones.
Joe was seeking treatment for his bulimia, but it had already taken such a devastating toll on his body that Rhonda says Joe knew his life would be cut short.
"He didn't want to confuse it with wanting to die as much as he wanted everyone to know that he was ok, whether it's today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now. It's ok, I'm at peace," said Rhonda Jones.
The pain of losing their son still lingers....perhaps it always will.
Someday's they weep because they miss him and on other days they smile, simply because they remember him.
"Joe wrote me a letter a year or so ago just telling me thank you for everything I had done for him. I have a lot of good memories, a lot of good memories," said Mike Jones.
Mike says Joe always had a desire to help people and his death won't be in vain.
There's a lot to be learned from the way Joe lived his life and from the way he died.
"If through all of this, one person receives some kind of help, it needs to be recognized that this is not just a woman's disease. It's an addiction just like crack cocaine, just like alcohol," said Joe Jones, in a July 2006 interview.
"They realized Joe had the problem. They realized it was okay to talk about the problem. They realized there's a lot of people who have the problem, and that you can see the consequence of the problem," said Mike Jones.
Joe helped Mike and Rhonda with their landscaping and lawn care business.
One of the last places Joe worked was the Shiloh Cemetery in Paragould.
"There was a place in the back of the cemetery where he would sit when he got hot. There was a big tree back there. Those spots were open, and that's where we buried Joe. We had Joe for three years longer than I thought we would have him. I just thank God everyday for that," said Mike Jones.
Mike and Rhonda say they take comfort knowing that in the final months Joe re-established his relationship with God and church.
Next to Joe when he was found dead was the book 15 Minutes Alone A With God.
It's a book, Mike says Joe read every night.