It was in 1972 that Pervis and I decided to have another baby. The Spinners had their first gold record and the future looked bright and shiny.
Pervis Jr (PJ) was born in 1975 and the family was overjoyed at our new addition. It was months after his first birthday when the doctor told me that he had regressed since his last visit and mentioned the word autism. As his behavior became worse and worse, I had to accept that there was a serious problem with our son.
While I was bawling and crawling and bumbling and stumbling under the drama and trauma of autism, Pervis was traveling the world performing. He was also denying that there was a problem with PJ. He looked so normal that it was easy for him to convince himself that PJ was going through a temporary backslide.
When there is a child with autism, 50% of the marriages don’t survive. I also had to contend with the groupies and gropies who were trampling all over our marriage. We were not prepared for the chaos and conflict and ended up separated.
That’s when I found out just how much I could depend on Pervis when it came to our son. During all the years that we were separated, he was always there for PJ. No matter how we felt about each other, when it came to our son we were together. We were each others’ support network.
After years of separation, we got back together and discussed what we could do for people with autism and their families. Pervis and I both felt that we had a responsibility because we knew just what families have to endure. We had many discussions before we decided on the Pervis Jackson Jr Autism Foundation. We were both “Inspired By Autism” to start the foundation.
Pervis died before we could implement our plan. Pervis was the one with all the courage (some might say nerve) and now he was gone. I had to decide if I was going to try to fulfill his wishes. Thanks to the support of the Spinners, the Spinnerettes (Spinner wives) and some great friends, we were able to start the PJ Foundation.
Pervis is gone, but the lessons, inspiration and motivation he gave me will go on and on. The author and motivational speaker, Les Brown, reminds us to not die with our music still in us. Pervis died before his words about his son could be heard, so I am including one of his poems to PJ.
From Pervis to Pervis
People look at you like you don’t exist,
But you have a lot of qualities that the people miss.
You’re different from others is so many ways,
There are a lot of things that you want to say,
So I’ll be your voice, come what may.
You look to us for guidance and truth
I’ll try to do my best for you.
I’ll do for you whatever I can,
You are always part of my plan.
The bottom line is, I’m your old man.
And I don’t care what people say
I’m going to love you anyway.
Until next time, may you have peace, love and prosperity in your life.