ODE TO CLARICE JACKSON
As I write this, I have no clue how to create an ode, but Clarice Jackson is getting one written to her when I learn how.
Clarice Jackson was one of my first guardian angels that I set eyes on. Who knows what brought a woman of color to central Wisconsin in the early 1970’s, but as she was leaving with her family she took time out for a little white girl.
No one visited us. Our house was not open to visiting unless invited and planned for well in advance. As a kindergartner I had full awareness of this. I knew girls and women were less than men, extended and immediate family reminded us weekly or more. I was third of three girls, I knew I was wrong before I started.
Not looking like the models, not being thin, tall & gorgeous was bad. Clarice was tall and beautiful, gorgeous in my eyes. But not thin. And I already sensed not being white wasn’t right either. And she was here to see me. She really wasn’t on good footing.
I’m pretty sure my eyes were as big as they could get. My young life was spent being invisible and being useful. If you’re not familiar with those sentiments, a sincere good for you. That’s not this story. So there stood Mrs. Jackson, my Sunday School teacher, right in the front hall and she came to see me. On top of that she had a gift for me. I’m pretty sure my expression didn’t hide all the “supposed to’s” she was tromping on, and from her smile and graciousness, and focus only on me, as well as her insistence on seeing me herself, she did too.
Mrs. Clarice Jackson, wherever you are, thank you. You are loved, often remembered and cared about. I love my Children’s Picture Bible. I carried and read that book that was almost as big as me, for years. I colored in that book, just a little. I still have it, and I have precious little from my growing-up years. I have never forgotten your spirit. Thank you for writing in the book, so I know you actually existed.
You might be asking, did Mrs. Jackson visit all the kids from class? Yup. I was the only child in the class at the small church. It was kind of dying out. The church was closed and torn down about 3 or 4 years later.