His name was John Jackson but to me he was always ‘Jacko’. I remember him as a small, friendly man who welcomed people in the church foyer and gave them a hymn book. He was the devoted husband of Edna and the loving father of Pat.
One of his chief interests was missionary work, which he supported prayerfully and financially over many years.
I remember something that happened after the funeral service of a mutual friend in 1983. On leaving the church Jacko collapsed and stopped breathing. Immediately the funeral director lifted Jacko’s body onto a wall and gave him the kiss of life. Jacko responded and lived a further 14 years!
I remember vividly the day when Jacko and Edna became residents in Emmaus House, a Christian residential home for the elderly in Harrogate. By this time they both needed care – especially Jacko who was a long-standing insulin-dependent diabetic. They lived there happily together until Edna died on Easter Day 1995.
I remember most of all visiting Jacko in hospital in 1997. As I arrived his sister was just about to leave. She kissed Jacko and said, ‘Goodbye, I’ll see you again tomorrow.’ He replied, ‘You won’t! Tomorrow I shall be in heaven’.
At this his sister, who wasn’t a believer, began to cry. To comfort her I said, ‘Don’t cry, look how happy Jacko is’.
After she had gone, I settled myself in the easy chair next to Jacko’s bed and we had brief snatches of conversation. Suddenly, Jacko sat straight up in bed and fixed his almost sightless eyes on the ceiling.
He began to wave. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked. He replied, ‘I’m waving at Jesus and the crowd of people who are with him! He is speaking and saying, “Come, Jacko, come”.
A radiant smile was on Jacko’s face as he sank back on his pillows. I decided that I would stay with Jacko until he went to heaven. But then another of his sisters came and announced that she would be staying with him, so I felt it best to leave.
Before I did so, I leaned over to kiss Jacko and said, ‘Goodnight Jacko. God bless you. I will see you in “the morning”!’
Early the next day – the Lord’s Day 6 April 1997- the message came. Jacko had been called home.