Photo: Jackson Clarion-Ledger
A beautiful story of love, commitment and faith, from the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, via USA TODAY:
At the challenging age of 12, when kids’ most dreaded fears should be getting a mouthful of braces or figuring out how to communicate with the opposite sex, Jack Daylon is dealing with grown-up pain.
Over the past seven years, he has watched death claim his mother, father and brother.
“And now he’s stuck with me, someone he’s known for three years,” says his stepfather Keith Mallett, a 52-year-old operations coordinator with Entergy in Natchez, Miss.
But there is a clear bond between them.
“I love you,” Keith will say.
“You better,” Jack Daylon will respond.
Considering the cards life has dealt him, it would only be human for Jack Daylon to wonder when, where and how Keith will be taken from him, too.
And then what?
“The only thing I can do — and I do this a lot — is tell him that God always knew what was going to happen, and that he led me here to be with him. To love him, raise him, teach him and support him in every way possible,” Keith says. “He is a really smart kid. And he had a great person show him how to handle some really, really tough challenges. Anyone who knew his mother, Beth, will tell you what a person of faith she was. She talked it, she breathed it, she lived it. Every single day. One of the people who saw it was Jack Daylon.”
He watched his mother continue to find good in God while devastated by the loss of her husband and Jack Daylon’s dad, Barr Brown, who died in a private plane crash while on a business trip to Waco, Texas, on Dec. 10, 2006.
He watched her do the same while trying to cope with the death of her 24-year-old son, Preston Parish, who was killed in an automobile accident Dec. 3, 2011.
And he witnessed her battle cancer armed with a don’t-pity-me smile and a barrage of Bible verses.
Among them, Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”