Jackie Hopkins is thankful for life, family and God. Photo by Clint Confehr

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — When people bow heads to pray on Thanksgiving Day, many are grateful for life, family and God. Few feel it like Jackie Hopkins of Greenwood in East Nashville.

“I’m thankful to be alive,”Jackie says in a whisper barely audible with the sound of her ventilator in a basket on a mobile pedestal next to her wheel chair. “And for family.”

A C-3 break in her neck left Hopkins, 61, dependent on medical devices for each breath she’s taken since June 2, 1978 when she drove off the road in a storm, returned to

Jackie Hopkins graduated from MTSU in 2005 with a degree in social service after studying for a degree in information systems. Since then she’s used the Internet to order medical supplies for herself. Family photo

pavement and crashed into a tractor trailer truck, her family says. Paramedics saw the crash while returning from a trip, called for help, and she was rushed to the old General Hospital on Hermitage Avenue. Her other injury left a small scar on her forehead.

Jackie does not remember anything from the crash. Ten weeks thereafter, she was home where she celebrates Thanksgiving today. The Hopkins were planning a traditional turkey dinner today. Father Andrew Horace Hopkins Jr. was a professional meat cutter at groceries in Nashville. He’d grind steak trimmings into hamburger and bring it home. Jackie

Four decades ago, Jackie Hopkins was a student at Middle Tennessee State University. Hopkins family photo

really likes beef.

The Hopkins family pulls together, providing care and feeding for Jackie whose life from a wheel chair stands as a testimonial to the power of perseverance, love and faith. She listens to gospel music and reads the Bible on her desk-top computer in her family dining room.

Jackie started studying information systems technology at Middle Tennessee State University. She graduated with a social services degree in 2005 when she got a Dell computer. Jackie orders her own supplies on-line by manipulating a “head mouse” that follows a silver colored dot placed on her forehead.

“Health care is getting really expensive,” Jackie says with her sister repeating the words. “A lot of people have not lived through what I’ve gone through … In times like this, most families didn’t stick together. They didn’t take care of loved ones like mine takes care of me.”

Her father recalls, “We had $10,000 left in our insurance [benefits] when she was about ready to come home” from General Hospital.

“My wife and I struggled to keep supplies,” Hopkins says. “Then for some reason, a social worker came to our house and was surprised we were doing it ourselves.” She connected the Hopkins family with various businesses and medical services. Maxim Health Care serves Jackie now.

“Through all this,” Hopkins says, “if it hadn’t been for the Lord; the decisions I made didn’t come from me because I’m not too good. You wonder why. You see, we believe.”

Jackie’s brother, Gregory, is pastor of Anointed Life Fellowship. Sister Vivian Gray is retired. Brother Steve works for a trucking company. Brother Anthony is deceased, as is mother Mary Louise Hopkins.

The Hopkins home is warm, filled with love and memories. Jacqueline Regina Hopkins was born July 9, 1957 in a Franklin clinic. Her mother lived in Spring Hill. The family has roots in Columbia.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...