21. Jimmy said his girls were living in complete squalor before coming to live with him in the Nashville neighborhood of Preston Taylor.

TOP: CLICK ORANGE ARROW TO LISTEN TO JIMMY TALK ABOUT THE STRUGGLES OF BEING A SINGLE FATHER OF TWO GIRLS.

ABOVE: Photo of back side of Jimmy’s former apartment on Delaware Ave and 40th.

Jimmy talked and showed us photographs of cluttered and filthy rooms. He said this is where they found his young daughters, Ariana Rose and Victoria (“Tori”), just before they came to live with him. He said they had been abandoned and basically left to fend for themselves. They were nine and eleven.

He held up photographs and talked: “That’s the bottom… that’s the downstairs… That’s the kitchen… look at the kitchen. Look at the dishes. The counter over here…. I mean the thing over here is… the cat litter box smells like cat crap… That’s the front room… it’s where they were staying. It’s where their aunt had a boyfriend and whatever… she had been living with him for a few years. There’s dog poop with baby feet stepped on it into the carpet. Look at the clothes.”

The photographs showed rooms with floors covered with clothes and debris. Piles of debris that looked like garbage. In the photographs the rooms looked like a condemned house not a place where people could live.

Jimmy said he has been struggling with the girls because they don’t keep their rooms clean. He said their apartment is so messy right now and it makes him want to argue with the girls all the time for not keeping it tidy.

He admits he over does it with them. He said he sometimes treats his daughters like he treats his workers. He simply gives orders. But he knows this isn’t what the girls need from him. Plus he said he understands that because of what they came out of they don’t see the clutter as a problem because it is nothing compared to how they were living in that old place.

Rose talked about the time before coming to live with Jimmy. She said they were totally on their own, she and Tori. Adults were not around. She and Tori quit going to school until they were told they would be put in a “home” if they didn’t show up. But when summer came they were totally on their own. Rose said they had no food so they developed a network of friends whose houses they would go to at night in the neighborhood to ask to have dinner.

Rose said she was close to her dad before he went to jail but not Tori. So even though they were living in a terrible situation she and Tori were reluctant at first to go live with Jimmy.

Jimmy had no idea how the girls were living until after they came to live with him. Soon after he discovered how bad it was he petitioned the court for custody of the girls. He was shocked the court said yes! And happy. But Tori was skeptical at first, more than Rose, he said.

The girls came to live with Jimmy in a tiny apartment in the Nashville neighborhood of Preston Taylor.

Tori talked about her parents. When Jimmy was in prison she wanted nothing to do with him, she said. She didn’t even want the letters he wrote her. But now things are different and she sees things in a different light, she said. Now it’s her mother she wants nothing to do with and she likes being with her father.

It’s not easy raising two young girls, Jimmy said. Especially in their circumstances living where they live, in a little apartment in a Nashville neighborhood overrun with drug addicts and gangs. But it is worth they battle, he said. And he is determined to make a better life for them all. Who knows, he said. Maybe one day he might even get married again. If the right woman comes along.

Follow the story
]