Since 1986, Lanna Brickhaus has been the caregiver for Bobby Jackson, an Air Force staff sergeant who was injured in an auto accident, resulting in incomplete quadriplegia and a prosthetic limb.
Lanna was filled with trepidation when she first took the part-time job caregiver job. Today, her kids affectionately call him “Uncle Bobby," and he has a special relationship with her whole family.
Learning how to be a caretaker.
Lanna was 21 and had recently finished a medical assistant program when Bobby came into her life. Her mother was managing a mobile home park in Missouri when a woman from the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital came to look at lots on Bobby's behalf. Bobby was 24 and about to leave the hospital, but living with his parents was out of the question. When Lanna heard about his situation, she thought, “I wouldn’t want to go into a nursing home."
I can’t imagine living any other life.
She was surprised and scared when the woman from the VA hospital asked if she’d work for Bobby on the weekends. Lanna didn’t have a clue how to do the job, but Bobby trained her in all the details until she was competent and comfortable. With confidence that she could do the job, Lanna began working full-time for Bobby and learned to help him dress, attend to his personal hygiene, prepare meals, and help him in and out of bed.
It’s a family affair.
After Lanna got married and the couple’s first son was born, the family quickly realized their home was too small. Bobby bought a larger house and the family moved in. They now call Cedar Hill, Mo., home.
“Bobby has always been an integral part of our family life,” Lanna says. “Over the years, Bobby has been nothing but kind, generous and loving. Without Bobby, our family would not be a family."
Bobby is relatively independent – he drives himself to church on Sundays and enjoys going to lunch with friends. This provides Lanna with some time off, but Bobby is never far from her mind.
"When we go places, I always have to think about what time to be home. No last minute 'let's do this,' because I have to get back to Bobby.
But the greatest benefit I have received is that I got to be a stay-at-home mommy with my two boys, so no regrets!
“If I had to work out of the home and drive to my job, I don't think I would enjoy it as much. I'm glad we get to live with him and he gets to be part of my family. “I can’t imagine living any other life.”