BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor – special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Marjorie Crooks relies on a miracle every day to put food in the mouths of the 12 dependents in her care.
In addition to caring for a disabled daughter, Crooks – who lost two of her sons to violence – has now become caregiver and provider to four grandchildren, her 84-year-old mother who is suffering from a stroke, a 50-year-old mentally challenged man who has lived with the family since his mother died, a daughter she adopted at three months old, a god-daughter who has always lived with her, as well as her other biological children.
All this the 45-year-old single mother does without an income as she has devoted her time to caring for her daughter with cerebral palsy.
Crooks’ troubles began when one of her twin girls was diagnosed with the debilitating cerebral palsy 13 years ago. Crooks, who already had five boys, was excited at the birth of twin girls Omesha and Omoya Williams who were born premature.
But her excitement soon turned to concerns when a doctor at Spanish Town Hospital, where they were born, informed her that one was doing better than the other. Crooks said the children were on medication but she did not realise the seriousness of the illness until the doctors said they would have to change the medication as Omesha’s stomach was swollen.
Omesha, the affected twin, later developed a seizure, but Crooks said she thought little of it when the babies were both released from the hospital two weeks later. However, at five months old Omesha was not sitting up like her sister and her head always lolled to the side when she was propped up. A visit to Bustamante Hospital for Children confirmed the mother’s worst fears as she received news that Omesha would never be able to walk or talk and would require round-the-clock care as the seizure had damaged her brain.
Crooks said although she could not afford to stay home to care for her child, having no other source of income, she was determined not to put her into a group home.
“I chose not to put her in a (group) home because nowhere is better than her home, and no one would be able to give her the love and care that I can,” Crooks told the
Jamaica Observer during a recent visit to the family’s dilapidated three-room structure on Hanover Street in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
Over the years, Crooks got much-needed financial assistance from her eldest son, who had migrated to the United States as a child and who started working from an early age to help his mother and siblings.
“He was the one who helped everybody. Him help with graduation, back to school, just about everything because that boy was working since he was 12 years old,” she explained
But her troubles would only get worse when this main breadwinner of the family was murdered at his New York home.
Another adult son stepped into that role soon after, providing for the family, so that Crooks could stay home to care for Omesha.
“Omesha was his baby. He always used to walk and sell and would help with her,” she said of her second son.
But last January, Crooks suffered another blow when this son was murdered, leaving behind 10 children. Three of the children – ranging in age from three to seven years – are now her sole responsibility, as well as a fourth grandchild from a different mother, who has lived with her since birth.
Crooks, who miraculously makes every meal stretch to share for 12 mouths daily, said she still manages to provide a meal for some street people, whenever she has excess. more