In Memory of Kitty Jackson aka Mint Mom

I write and share this update with a heavy heart. One of the interesting ways memoirs differ from fiction is that the characters are real people with real lives. Their stories continue in the real world, not simply that of imagination. I wish I could change some of the “plot twists” for myself and the friends and family members readers met in Carmella’s Quest that have taken place since then.

One plot twist I very much would like to change if I could right now is the loss of Kitty Jackson. Carmella’s Quest readers will recall Tim (aka Mint Man) as one of the book’s main characters. Kitty is his mother, so I guess I can call her Mint Mom. Over the years, she has become much more to me than “Mrs. Jackson, Tim’s Mom.” I thought of her more and more as “Miss Kitty, my friend.” So, it is with sadness that I have to say that my friend Kitty Jackson’s life on this earth ended unexpectedly on Thursday, March 3 2016. She was 62 years old.

Since Tim and his parents lived near campus, I spent a lot of time hanging out at their house, particularly during my first semester at NGC in the fall of 1994. I talk about all of them in early chapters of Carmella’s Quest. Words on a page could never quite capture what spending time with the Jacksons was like. They were way too colorful and multidimentional for that. I did my best with what I had, though. The Jackson Clown Klan always made me feel welcome and like part of the family. Their humor, warmth, and hospitality helped this shy girl come out of her shell at a time when I really needed people in my life who could help me do exactly that. They never made a big deal about my blindness or acted like it was weird in any way. I, in turn, never acted like it was weird that they would only respond to their clown names when in costume or that they were Episcopalian and not Baptist like everyone else I knew and went to school with.

When CQ came out in early 2009, Miss Kitty messaged me to say how proud they were of me and how excited they were about the book. We kept in touch via FaceBook regularly after that. We frequently left little comments and replies back and forth. These were just brief exchanges, but they made me smile. I could always count on her to be generous with likes and kind comments on my posts. She laughed at my jokes, told me my animals were adorable, said how beautiful I looked in pictures, and was quick to respond with words of prayer and support when I mentioned concerns. I felt like Miss Kitty genuinely cared about me and the goings on in my little world.

At around 3:30 on the afternoon of Thursday May 3, I checked FaceBook during a brief break between clients, not expecting anything in particular to be going on with anyone. I just wanted to give my brain something nonclinical to think about for a few minutes. When I read Tim’s heartbroken post, I was shocked and immediately felt a wave of overwhelming sadness. I thought, “No way! This wasn’t supposed to happen like this… not to Miss Kitty… not to Tim and his wife and kids. Not to Mr. Jerry (her husband of 44 years.)” I knew she’d been sick for most of the week. It wasn’t supposed to be “that” kind of sick, not the kind you don’t get better from. The doctor’s said so. It was supposed to just be the “prayers and feel better soon” kind of sick.

In Miss Kitty fashion, she’d been posting on FaceBook as recently as late Tuesday evening. She always posted funny, interesting, and inspirational things. Never anything negative. I could tell she really enjoyed the whole social media thing. I’d often see where she’d tagged friends or family members, sharing things she knew they were both interested in or would find amusing. Tuesday night, she’d thanked everyone for their prayers. I’d gotten a“LOL” from her in response to something I said jokingly to her and Tim earlier on Tuesday when I found out they were both sick. I’m glad I gave her a little laugh as our last interaction.

I miss her likes and kind comments. Its strange for them not to be there. There have already been several times when I’ve pictured her clicking “like” from heaven and smiled. That’s the good thing. I have no concern about where Kitty Jackson’s soul is now. I know her faith in God was real, personal, and a vital part of who she was and what she built her life around. I know she is with the Lord and with her parents. I know she is not experiencing any pain or sickness anymore. I know that, if she could, she’d be posting all kinds of cool pictures and quotes to FB letting us know what heaven is like. But whatever she’s up to now, its way cooler than FaceBook will ever be (sorry Mark Zuckerberg.)

Miss Kitty’s loved ones will not grieve as those who have no hope, but Tim and his family and her many friends are grieving. The sense of loss Jerry, Tim and Steven, and their wives and children are feeling is something it breaks my heart to think about. Their loss is tremendous as they continue to live on this earth without the heart of their family being physically present with them the way they’re used to. Miss Kitty was so well thought of by so many people. Seeing all the messages of sympathy and fond memories that have been posted to Tim and his family assures me they are surrounded by love and support. Whether its stories about her role as Razzle Dazzle the clown or about the things she did as an active member of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, I’m sure reading them brings smiles along with sadness. So many friends, neighbors, and family members are taking comfort from each other as they share and celebrate Miss Kitty’s life. She was an encouragement to so many people and was so well thought of. As the Bible says, they are also weeping with those who weep, though.

I hope Kitty Jackson now knows the full impact of her life and ministry. Well done good and faithful servant. I’m honored to have been one of her many friends. If you think of it, pet a cat, reach out to someone with a friendly smile or word of encouragement, make someone laugh, or do some other act of kindness to show God’s love today in honor of Kitty Jackson. Remember that none of us knows how long we have left with those we love. Please remember Tim and his family in your prayers during this difficult time. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral costs and related expenses at
https://www.gofundme.com/j7st7jq4
Miss Kitty’s obituary can be found at
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/greenvilleonline/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=177939417