By Jamie’s parents, David & Cheryl
When Jamie was a baby, we began to realize he wasn’t progressing normally in his development. Tests showed that his brain had not been fully developed. We decided that, as his parents, we would do the best we could to help him use what ability he does have to give him as enjoyable and fulfilling a life as possible.
Occupational and physical therapists showed us how a regimen of therapy could help him “learn” to sit, crawl, stand, and finally, walk. How we could increase his awareness of his surroundings and how he could manipulate toys for his enjoyment. Jamie attended a pre-school run by the then Council for Retarded Citizens. In 1975, he started his public-school education, due to the many advocates who could see potential in children with special needs.
We had two daughters after Jamie. Our family unit was different from those of their friends, but Jamie was loved, played with, taken on family outings, and their friends accepted him as a part of our lives.
In the mid-80s, I met Lois McKennerick through a mutual friend. Lois’ son, Jim, had Down Syndrome. He was older than Jamie, and had more ability, but Lois and I had a lot to talk about, to encourage each other. Jim was their youngest child, and caring for him was getting to be more difficult for Lois. She shared with me as she and her husband found Cedar Lake Lodge, and their decision to have Jim live there. She told us how the transition was made easy by the staff working with them and Jim, and how Jim was content there.
Shortly after that we moved to Connecticut where Jamie finished school at age 21, and then went to an adult day program. When David was working from a home office, we moved back to Louisville, in part to be near to his mother, and in part because we knew there would be good services available for Jamie.
I had breast cancer in 1988, and while I overcame it, there was always the possibility of a recurrence. I also have osteoarthritis that affects my fingers. We began to realize we needed to plan for Jamie’s future when we would be older.
We contacted Cedar Lake and filled out forms to put him on the waiting list. Then we began taking him there for respite weekends every two or three months, so he could become familiar with the facility, and they with him.
Then one Wednesday morning in the Spring of 2007, the social worker, Marie, called and said that Jamie’s name is at the top of the waiting list and there was a room available. We needed to let her know by Friday. If we declined, he would go to the end of the list. Jamie had lived with us for 39 years, so it was hard to think of him living elsewhere. But, at the same time, we realized it would be good to have him settled in a good home, so our daughters would never have to worry about him. We decided to make the transition while we were able to be actively involved, rather than have him endure an abrupt change in the future.
Jamie could not understand language well enough for us to explain what was happening. We told Cedar Lake staff about his routine, his likes and dislikes. They told us their plans for his programming. Jeff Miniard was his QDDP, and at first there were several phone calls and meetings to help with Jamie’s adjustment. It became a good living arrangement for him.
It has been 12 years since our adult son left our home and we are so glad we made that decision! There have been, and are, so many caring staff at Cedar Lake always working with him, and us, to give Jamie and enjoyable, fulfilling, and active life. We bring Jamie to our home for the day most Sundays and holidays. He is happy to be with us, and happy to return to the Lodge. Now that we are older, we are so thankful to have Jamie living at the Lodge, knowing his future is secure.
We are so grateful for those parents who, fifty years ago, made their vision a reality in Cedar Lake Lodge, and we are grateful for all who continue to support Cedar Lake, especially the caring people who work there.