NORMAN — When I first met Jackie Burks it was Thanksgiving 2004.
I had yet to really break into the family I was going to inherit when I married my husband in 2005, so needless to say I was a bit shy.
During that Thanksgiving dinner, I kept to myself and was intimidated by Jackie’s brood of kids. Two rough and tumble boys who were soon going to be my nephews and not only had Jackie’s energy but her wit, too. They were anything but shy and I wasn’t used to being an aunt to boys.
But Jackie didn’t have time for her future sister-in-law to have a shy streak. She took to the task of breaking the ice, asking I’m sure 100 questions and making me feel like I was already a member of the family before I married her stepbrother.
After my first encounter with Jackie, I quickly learned that there are no such titles in our family with the word “step” in front of them. No one is a stepsister or a stepfather. The only steps are the ones that lead into the house. I realized that while Jackie raked me over the coals as I ate turkey and pumpkin pie. She loved her family regardless of the lack of shared DNA.
That next April, she attended our wedding. I’ve never seen a guestbook attendant be that happy at any wedding, but Jackie was. Jackie was always ready to help when she was needed and always had on one of her best features — a smile.
Jackie was only in my life for 10 years. She died last week after a brief battle with cancer. It’s been a hardship on the family as we often leaned on her to cheer us up. She always knew the right things to say — kind words or a joke. If that didn’t do the trick, then Jackie’s laugh was sure to brighten even the saddest of hearts.