by Henry Lane Hull
When Mother Nature distributed maternal instincts, she outdid herself with Jayne Jackson, who died last month at the age of 84.
Some people are born to their calling in life, a truism exemplified throughout Jayne’s course on this planet, first with her own four daughters, and in a broader perspective with all the children whom she encountered. She saw her role as welcoming new life into this world, and showing her abiding concern and interest thereafter.
As I began writing this item, I mentioned to my family the topic, and asked if they had any thoughts. The elder B. E. immediately said, “Say that she was a great mother.” For many of us that was Jayne’s persona. She found happiness in seeing children progress, and was always eager to learn of their comings and goings. She saw their futures as being her own, and manifested that conviction throughout her life.
Jayne and her husband, Jimmie, have been well known fixtures in the Irvington community for decades. Jimmie and his late brother, Bob, were mainstays at the Tides Inn where they spent their careers contributing mightily to that institution’s reputation for great hospitality. Bob was a regular sight after the Inn’s breakfast hour on Sunday mornings driving to church in Kilmarnock, wearing his best summer sports jacket, to perform his duties as an usher, then rushing back to his role as maître d’ for lunch in the main dining room. After church everyone knew not to delay Bob with trivial conversation.
Jimmie learned the name of every guest, who liked to sit with whom, and even what were the favorites of each on the menu. At their own home in Irvington, a short hop from the Inn, Jayne and Jimmie continued to raise a magnificent garden, worthy of advertisement in a seed catalog or on a garden video. In recent years their garden plot has decreased, but according to Jayne the production has increased. She found her horticultural niche in growing flowers of all types, and had a knack for putting them together in original ways.
Jayne valued all aspects of beauty. She majored in music at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, and after moving to the Northern Neck, she used her profound skills as a teacher in the Lancaster school system. In that venue, again her maternal direction led her genuinely to care for her pupils, and to delight in their achievements, both academic and personal.
Each year Jimmie and Jayne wintered in his native Florida. He and Bob grew up in Punta Gorda, the seat of Charlotte County, a small southwest city that was ravaged by Hurricane Charley in 2004. Jimmie’s license plate on his pickup truck references PGU. I asked him what the letters represented, and he replied, “Punta Gorda University,” an institution that exists only on that license plate.
Jayne was especially kind and enthusiastically supportive when she found that I had committed matrimony, and 15 months later as the first B.E. arrived her happiness was transparent, as it was another 15 months later when the second B.E. arrived. From that time, she would ask about the “B.E.s.” My Good Wife and I appreciated her caring for us, and realized that she genuinely was that way with children. As they grew she would engage them in conversation, showing that age was immaterial in her relationships with others.
One winter from Florida she sent the Elder B.E. a bottle to be tossed into the sea with a note inside. He has cherished it to such an extent that he keeps it as a memento of her, rather than heaving it into the water to see where it will go.
In any grouping of people Jayne stood out with her distinctive white hair and tasteful attire. She understood how to present herself in appearance and demeanor in ways that were memorable to those who knew her. She did so modestly, which quality was but another of her many impressive attributes. In every respect she lived her life to the fullest, both for her family and her friends.
Jayne Viel Jackson, September 12, 1932 – December 29, 2016. R.I.P.