Keeping Jason’s memory alive
Radford News Journal, January 13, 2001
By Charles Fretwell
Radford – A little over a year three years ago I wrote a column about the late Jason Rooker and the accident that led to a long ordeal and to his eventual death at the age of 10. This week we are reprinting the original column, and in a follow up column next week, we will share some wonderful news that will bring you up to date on what is taking place in his memory.
Following is the original column:
Some 22 years ago my friend Greg Rooker, then publisher of the Radford News Journal, asked me to begin writing a weekly column for the paper and here I am, some 1,200 columns later, attempting to sum up one of the most emotional experiences that any parent could undergo. Most of us are familiar with the details of young Jason Rooker and the accidental hanging some 16 months ago, that left him in a coma and near death, and his months in Community Hospital in Roanoke before he was removed to the University of Virginia’s Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville. We followed the drama with high hopes of a miracle taking place and for a full recovery of the 10-year-old youngster. While much progress did take place, the recovery to full health was not to be and a few days ago young Jason passed away, some 16 months after the accidental hanging. What about the miracle? Did you see it? Those of us who were close to the Rooker’s saw it. Friends and neighbors and strangers joined together to offer help. Schoolmates wrote, visited, and in many and varied ways, let the family know of their love and concern for Jason. Volunteers gave of their time to help with the “patterning,” which is designed to bring life back to damaged brain centers. In those 16 months we witnessed a demonstration of what it truly means to be a loving parent a Greg and Fran devoted almost their total effort to attempting to restore their child to health. The endless line of people waiting in line to pay their respects at the funeral was a tribute to the love and devotion the two of them had poured out as parents. Finally, the miracle that took place may be found in this beautiful tribute written by a neighbor and one of the patterning volunteers who worked faithfully with Jason – Charles Simpson. He wrote the words just as if Jason was speaking.
I am Jason --- I am Free
This is wonderful! I am free of my injured
Now I can talk and sing;
I can run and play.
I am at peace in my God!
I now fully understand why I was injured,
why I came back from near death,
and why my God sent me back for over a year
in a broken body!
But, of course, I'm not allowed to tell you the details.
But God did permit me to convey some human thoughts about my situation.
Unfortunately I have to use a human interpreter,
and so you will receive a clouded view
of what I now know so clearly.
I could have died in that tree as I played with my rope.
It would have been simple and quick.
But God wanted me to do something more,
something great with my life.
He gave me a special gift; to spend an extra year
with my parents and sisters, close friends and relatives.
To experience my family's great love for me.
And allow me to love them in a very special way.
This brought us all much closer together.
He allowed me to meet and enjoy hundreds of people
whom I had never known before.
He allowed me to enter their hearts,
and effect them in a way that would be different than anything
that they had ever experienced before.
Because of me hundreds of new friendships resulted.
People began to see others in a different light.
A loving and caring light,
that perhaps some had never before experienced.
Because of me a whole commmunity, those of different generations
and experiences, of different religions, and ethnic heritage,
were able to put aside petty differences
and unite together to help an unfortunate brother.
I thank you all for the time,
love and attention that you gave me.
But wasn't that part of God's plan?
Isn't that why he returned me for a year?
Think what you have learned!
Think of how the world will be better as many of you will say:
"We helped Jason Rooker, now who can we help?"
I have completed my work.
In memory of me
will you continue yours?