Sue Simpson used to know her son was leaving the house when she’d hear the wheels of his skateboard hit the front steps.
Her happy, energy-filled teen would bound off, hop their fence and head out and enjoy his day.
These days, Jessie Simpson is still finding moments of joy, but he’s not hopping any fences or setting out for any adventures — not the kind most his age experience, anyway.
At 23 years old, he’s been confined to his bed for five years and is living in a care home filled with elderly people.
“To be in a nursing home with people who have lived their lives is hard. Jessie hasn’t had a chance to live his life. It was stolen from him,” his mother said.
Jessie’s path was changed suddenly on June 19, 2016, when he wandered through Kristopher Teichrieb’s yard in Kamloops. The 39-year-old chased him down and beat him with his fists and a baseball bat.
Teichrieb pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2018 and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He has been living in a halfway house since his statutory release in April.
A civil trial also found him liable for damages, which a B.C. Supreme Court judge recently assessed at $6.94 million. It’s an amount Simpson said she probably will never see, though the matter is still before the courts.
Jessie, however, has had a much more significant sentence, she said. He suffered catastrophic injuries to his skull and face, requiring that his skull be surgically replaced.
He was in a coma for more than 10 months, had 11 surgeries, and had to learn how to eat and speak again. He’s even had to re-learn how to joke around and laugh. But he will never walk again.
“I’m inspired by Jessie, absolutely inspired since Day 1 with him. He’s fought to live, to be here with us,” she said. “He said he fought for me. I’m just lucky he’s here.”
So Simpson fights for him in different ways, all the time.
In recent months, she’s been working to make her home a safe place. In March, she plans to bring him home for the first time since the attack, and has spent months investing in everything from ramps and a safer, screened-in porch, to a van.
She’s also planned to bring in the medical support he needs.
Until then, though, he’s still in the care home.
To help lighten his mood, Simpson is turning to her hometown, Kelowna, in the hope of bringing her son some Christmas cheer.
“I’m asking for some cards,” she said. “Jessie loves people. He’s a huge people person and cards are a way to cheer him up.”
She did the same last year and said the cards, with personal stories penned inside from points across North America, would make him laugh and smile.
She said she knows people often want to give gifts and said they are appreciated.
She also has a GoFundMe up and running to help with the transition ahead.
She’s also started a “Justice for Jesse” sticker campaign. She’s hoping one day, she can make it so that people who do what was done to her son face a more significant penalty.