LIMA — Carolyn and Ricky Wilkerson have seen the strain that drugs, alcohol and other bad life choices has put on their mother-son relationship.
Now that both have cleaned up their acts, they want to see to it that others do not make the same choices.
The Wilkersons and Ricky’s girlfriend, Natalie Genero, spoke in front of a small crowd at Maplewood Apartments Friday. The trio shared their life stories, saying they would like to see things change with the drug use and violence in Lima. Maplewood sponsored the hour-long session.
“With all the violence and drug abuse lately, we had been thinking about something we could do to help,” said Maplewood manager Jill Henderson. “I later crossed paths with Ricky and we became good friends. After talking to him and hearing his story, we thought this would be something we could do.”
Carolyn Wilkerson gave birth to her son when she was only 16 and had been involved with drug use, first using marijuana before turning to heroin. She admits she was not there for her son much of the time. Ricky Wilkerson also got caught up in drug use and was sent to prison for six years for robbery.
Carolyn Wilkerson said when he son went to prison, that was her call to change her life.
“I wanted him to see me as being different when he got out,” Carolyn Wilkerson said. “I wanted to be there for him and make up for all the time I did not do what I should have.”
Carolyn Wilkerson said she was walking home one day and called on Jesus to help. She said she woke up the next day with her life changed.
“I struggled with how I took care of him,” Carolyn Wilkerson said. “I am glad I have had a chance to fix things.”
Ricky Wilkerson said he does not blame his mother for the way he conducted his life early on. He said he made his own choices. Ricky Wilkerson and Genero have now been off of drugs for 10 months. They met while they were both in a rehabilitation center.
“I know Mom was young, and I cannot fault her for my own choices as an adult,” Ricky Wilkerson said. “I am just glad we have a relationship.”
Ricky Wilkerson said his calling to clean up came two years ago, when he had a stroke. Told he would never walk again, through therapy he worked himself back to fully functioning.
“It isn’t often you get a second chance,” Ricky Wilkerson said.
Henderson said they plan to have more sessions in the future.
“We feel that if we help just one person, then it was worth it,” Henderson said. “We will have some sessions focusing on teens and pre-teens.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm