Rethink Remembers Jerome
£8,500.44 Total Raised
The Rethink team helped him to leave his flat, to go with them to the shop to buy basic refreshments for the centre, they even managed to get him a bus pass so that he could catch the bus and they would accompany him to get him safely to appointments. The centre that Rethink ran offered a safe place where he was respected and valued - they treated him as a human being first and foremost and nothing ever phased them, even if his behaviour became bizarre. Sadly, the day centre had to close eventually, and Jerome became much more self-isolating once again. The activities offered by Rethink were the one thing that made Jerome’s life both ‘bigger’ and ‘better’. The members of the Southend Rethink team even came to Jerome’s funeral, and they still speak very fondly of him.
Jerome has spent the last 20 years or so under the care of the amazing team at Coombewood Mental Health Clinic in Rayleigh and has had a profound effect on many of his Care Workers and Medical Support Staff over the years.
They have described him as someone with a great sense of humour, as compassionate and kind; often taken advantage of by others because of his vulnerabilities. He has spent time in Mental hospital Care (both under section and voluntary) and faced many struggles, both physical and mental. A year before he died Jerome spent several weeks in Rochford Mental Hospital, changing over his anti-psychotic medication to Clozapine. This improved his psychosis for the first time in years. Without exception, his healthcare workers have spoken about Jerome’s love for his family, his sense of humour and of how - during group work especially - they became so aware of a bright young man who had been robbed of so much through his mental illness. They also speak of his tattoos - which were many. After almost a year on Clozapine Jerome’s life was becoming brighter and his voices and images less intrusive. For the first time in years his eyes looked less alarmed, and conversations with him were less bizarre.
Jerome’s Dad, Peter, felt that Jerome, in many respects, was ‘a child in a man’s body’. Through the years there have been many very difficult times of confrontation, confusion, aggression and anger as Jerome’s world of schizophrenia clashed with the world the rest of us recognise and in which he had to try and live.
Jerome and I used to look at poems together - one of his favourites was “Parallel Universes” written by Dan Hoeweler, someone who knows what it is to live with Schizophrenia and describes it well - Sometimes Jerome wrote his own poems - his best ones were always when his psychosis became worse.
Jerome and I did so much together including the gardening where he could find some peace with me and the birds which came right up to him: He really loved it when they did that! He was always willing to help me in our small garden or with jobs in the house, and always helped his Dad taking rubbish to the tip or putting up a bed, and his Dad took him to do his shopping every week. Jerome was a creature of habit and order and everything had a day and a time to be done. He found change or disruption to his routine extremely difficult to cope with, and spoke of a future when he would live with/look after us in our old age.
I count it a privilege to have been able to care for Jerome every day of his all too short life. His world was so different to this one - His paranoid schizophrenia took him into a dark and dangerous world full of voices and people unseen by the rest of us, but nevertheless real to him. There were times when his fears overwhelmed him and even made others fearful of him, but throughout it all he has always had us, his family, holding him in the safe space of our love and understanding.
I am so proud of the way that not only his brothers supported and cared for him, but also their wives - my daughters-in- law: Annmarie and Kelly have never treated Jerome differently but accepted him as he was - and Kelly has always encouraged Jerome’s relationship with little Hattie (our granddaughter) from the moment she was born. Jerome worked tirelessly alongside his brother, Toby, to paint and construct Hattie’s nursery before she was born; he was both a loving and proud uncle. (I find it both heartbreaking and heartwarming when she asks now where her Uncle Jerome is, or when she is with us and the phone rings she asks if she can speak to Uncle Jerome because she expects it to be him).
Jerome has had so much difficulty in this life, but he has always had a beautiful gentle soul, a caring heart, a lovely smile. I know that he is free of all his fears and terrors and has found peace, but I am his Mum and I wish I did not have to hand him back to my God who gifted him to me quite so soon…
2 days before his heart suddenly stopped, Jerome and I had spent an amazingly good day together - one of the best in a long time - And the afternoon before he died he rang me to ask if I was OK. The last words we spoke were the ones we always said to each other when he left after a visit or at the end of every phone call. I said to him: “Love you Jerome”, and he replied, as he always did: ”Love you too, Mum”
So that’s where I would want to end this brief picture of my son because, whatever else, Jerome has been loved. I hope that this will help you to see our son as a very real, greatly loved, valued individual -
if you would like to support the amazing work that Rethink does to make a difference to lives like Jerome’s,
then please donate to Jerome’s fund. Thank you
Written by REVD. TERESA M. RUTTERFORD (Mother of Jerome) 2018