SJCS Stories

James and His Sister, Pat

By Pat Berry, Guest Writer

James loves life. He loves going places, sports, meeting people, and food. He was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He loved hanging out with his dad, James. Our mom, Jessie, was a stay at home mom. His dad would often take him with him, just to ride around, go to the store, or visit cousins, and friends. Over thirty years ago they moved to Trezevant, Tennessee. Mom wanted to be close to her parents and his dad had retired and closed his chemical cleaning business. His dad was from Springhill, Tennessee. They moved in with mom’s parents, our grandparents. He was soon enrolled in the St. John’s program, where he attended most days.

James’ dad passed in 2003. He and mom lived together alone until his placement in the group home. Our grandparents had passed years earlier. After the passing of his dad, they relied on others for transportation. There is no public transportation in Wingo, Tennessee (community outside of Trezevant, TN.) My husband, Jim, and I live in Jackson, Tennessee and would check on and assist them on a weekly basis. We would visit, take them shopping, and later would do the grocery shopping and cook some meals.

Mom was not able to properly care for James, his needs far outweighed the current resources. James’ frustrations continued to escalate when he could not go at will and eat when he wanted. He’d express his weariness through outbursts of anger, sometimes punching walls, and just a layer of sadness. Family and friends would put forth efforts to help but any positive results were short-lived. At one point he was hospitalized for blood sugar in the 700 range. At this point, I worked with Adrianne to find a group home. Since I did not have conservatorship at the time, James did not want to leave his mom. He knew that he needed to be home to help her. A couple years passed and matters continued to deteriorate with James and mom. Jessie was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with dementia. I knew she could not return home again and She was admitted to the Mckenzie Healthcare Facility. I had already gotten the conservatorship for James.

Working with Adrienne at St. Johns, which was an incredibly wonderful experience, James was placed in a group home. After a few weeks of adjustment, he has continuously progressed. His eating habits improved, which have enhanced his health with improvement in his blood sugar. He has lost weight. He maintains a positive attitude. James is now working five days a week and enjoys his job and has some money in his pockets. He looks forward to all the activities that are provided, like eating out, going to games, concerts, fun gatherings, etc… I visit him often and takes him to visit mom. My goal is for him to have normal routines and comfort and continued ties to his family.

St. Johns and the staff are amazing. What they have done for my brother is truly a miracle and we are grateful.