The Jackson Four
Without mentioning any first names, I will simply call them the Jackson Four. They comprised a family that was active in a church I worked with during my college years. I remember them fondly for several reasons… mostly their love of others and me. They have been in my life for what seems a lifetime, even if only in thought. The Jacksons are examples of the “good guys”.
Without telling their stories as if they are my own to tell, I will share some common experiences.
Mrs. Jackson always told me she was praying for my wife. At the time, I did not have even a girlfriend. She believed, through some strange connection to the divine, that she was able to pray for my future wife. As it turns out, I have had two wives. If she was able to pray for some wife in the future, I have no doubt that she could pray for two wives in the future. Though the first wife left town, I still hope those prayers found her. My wife of fourteen years, my love, deserves every ounce of well wishes Mrs. Jackson uttered in those days.
Mr. Jackson comforted me after the preacher of that church, spoke directly to me from the pulpit in some misguided way. I will never forget his words of, “He really shot himself in the foot.”
The Jackson kids, now very much adults, were as goofy as kids are. They were also wise beyond anyone’s years. I remember the son being the first person to speak of Mother Teresa with me. The daughter spoke to me of praying when ambulances pass. Both for the driver and for the patient.
Three years ago, as I grieved my mother’s passing. Strolling around the chapel and greeting friends. I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Jackson standing and smiling at me. Perhaps we hugged, perhaps we did not, but I remember the look on their faces. I had not seen those smiles in years.
The Jackson’s have seen me at my very best and at my very worst. When I was good, I was good. The worst for me, was worse than a lot of people’s worst. They were there, in the chapel, offering some love and doing the only thing to be done. Simply, gently, offering their presence.
It may seem routine or commonplace for them to have attended the funeral, but it was not. When I worked for that church, I traveled eight hours away from my home. They had met my mother, but they were not notified by family that she died. They found out, perhaps through Facebook, and they came. It happens that we have not spoken since, but when we do, it might be that we just smile for a moment before catching up.
Life is funny. There are those you meet and love for a time. Sometimes the memories of them overwhelm the senses. My suspicion is that they did far more for me than I ever did for them. I am grateful for having known the Jackson Four. Much cooler, much more hip, and certainly more connected to whatever source of creation there is in this world. Every one of them.
This is a bit of a tribute. Also a way to get the memory of them out of my head for a time. I believe in prayer, but in some unorthodox way that is not quite sanctioned by the Southern Baptist church where I worked with so many years ago. I believe, to think of a person and to cover them with thoughts of love, is beneficial in some mysterious way. This is only a prayer for the four of them. Just a way to express gratitude and show love.
Whether they find these words matters little. They are spoken (or written) and that is enough. What I know is this. Wherever they are, they deserve all goodness in life. Whatever they are doing, they deserve the support of others. Somewhere in the universe, they are working, resting, doing life, and making a difference in the lives of those around them. And I had the chance to know them.
Tell me how this is not a wonderful life. When you get right down to it, they taught me to be grateful, by being people who you would be grateful to be around. And maybe, just maybe, this is the result of all of those prayers for me and my future wife, coming back around to them.