Melissa Jackson and family: Great riches are relative -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Melissa Jackson and family: Great riches are relative

The Habitat house “will mean a great deal for me and my sons,” Melissa Jackson said. “I want them to be able to say ‘I’m home.’”

Melissa Jackson, 36, fondly shares photographs of a very special day in her family history – when she, her seven brothers and four sisters staged an elegant recommitment ceremony for their mom and dad.

Their mother, Rosetta Jackson, never had a church wedding with all the trimmings, and her children were determined that she would have her day.

“We wanted her to have real china and all that, for once,” Jackson said.

Rosetta wore a beautiful white satin gown and carried a cascade of flowers. All the daughters, wearing white bridesmaid dresses, flanked their parents, with the men in proper attire, too. The grandchildren, decked out in tiny suits or precious in dresses, all played a role.

The special event is long past now; Jackson’s sons, now 13 and 9, were small then. Rosetta died of cancer in late 2007, and Jackson misses her so much, the memory of the recommitment ceremony offers much comfort.

The Jacksons of Moss Point, Mississippi, have all known some hard times. But they are rich in family, which is lasting wealth.

Learning to adjust

Melissa Jackson is disabled; a gastric bypass surgery went wrong in 2003. She’s had 10 surgeries to try to make things right, but she is still in and out of the hospital for blood and iron supplements monthly. She needs to use the restroom 30 or more times a day. Her weight fluctuates wildly because of fluid retention. Her twin, who also had the surgery, is fine.

Before the surgery, Jackson was an emergency room technician at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula. She liked helping people, she said. Two other sisters also worked there.

Now Jackson is at home, where she bakes when she can.

“I bake a lot for people,” she said. “Maybe someday I can be Paula Deen,” she said, referring to the beloved TV chef. “She has two sons, too.”

Jackson also likes to sing; she has won trophies for solos and been on the radio. Her 13-year-old son, Cordarius, has inherited some of that talent and is in the choir.

This family likes football, too. One of Jackson’s brothers played professionally until he got hurt; now he’s back at LSU getting his degree. Cordarius, a defensive tackle who has sad, thoughtful eyes and size-15 feet, says, “Yes, ma’am,” when asked if he wants to play pro football.

Youngest son James plays offensive line, but he isn’t so sure about a career yet. He likes math and reading, because “books have a lot of experience in them,” he said. And he likes to tell jokes. “He’s my character,” his mom said.

Coming home

After Katrina destroyed their house, Jackson’s sisters pitched in to help. Now, she shares one bedroom with her two sons, while her twin sister and nephew stay in the other bedroom.

The sons are “awesome,” Jackson said. “They’re always telling me to take my medicine.”

It’s hard for them and she knows it. “We went from our own and then down again,” she said.

Every day they can, with her sister’s help, they drive by the Habitat house at 901 School St. in Pascagoula and discuss decorating. Mom thinks maybe she’d like a little pink somewhere. The boys like green and gold.

The Habitat house “will mean a great deal for me and my sons,” Jackson said.

“I want them to be able to say ‘I’m home.’ I want them to be able to say, ‘That’s my room.’”