I ran the first #FierceWomanFriday last June about my mother and the impact she has had on me. On June 4, 2023 my mom, Jacqueline J Parks passed away at the age of 87. This past weekend, we celebrated her life with close friends and family. Here are my remarks as another testament to the truly fiercest mom and woman out there.
Jacqueline Jean Parks was born the last of 13 children. Her mom died when she was 2 and her dad couldn’t take care of all the kids. The 3 youngest were sent to an orphanage. She was there 16 years. When asked about this time, she always talked like it was no big deal. This was pretty much how she faced all the trials. When I was young, there was no problem she couldn’t solve. It seemed like her sole function was to make sure that the many obstacles that came didn’t stand in my way.
The three words I think best describe the way Jackie Parks showed up in the world are guts, grit, generosity.
I literally wouldn’t be here had my mom not had the guts to leave my father, refuse to get rid of me and choose to raise me on her own. My mom taught me that you may not be able to have everything you want in life but you sure can have better if you have hope and put in the effort.
My mom’s grit is what I most admired and what I hope she passed on to me.
My mom never finished high school. But even without a diploma, she became a bookkeeper and was able to raise me. I saw the greatest example of grit when my mom moved here and didn’t give up on life. At that time, her mental health was in a terrible place. She knew that for me to be able to finish school, she needed to function. And I think the passion to support my dreams that kept her alive during that time. She began walking to the small store , she took on cleaning for my Kellogg friends, she kept our apartment clean. Then she got a job caring for the men at King Home. She was great at it. She was my daughter's caregiver when I went back to work.
My mom was more generous than someone of her resources ever should have been. Once, her father bought her a few new outfits and he asked her where a specific dress was that he had bought for her. My mom, straight faced, told him that she had given the dress to a poor girl down the block. And he said, “Jesus, Jackie, YOU are the poor girl down the block.”
In this last year, my mom didn’t know what day it was and often couldn’t remember what she had eaten five minutes earlier. But every time one of my girls called or visited, the first thing she did was try to give them whatever cash she had in her wallet. And if she didn’t have any cash, she would tell me to stop at the bank and give them some money.
She loved her family so much. Her idea of love was putting others first, sacrifice beyond what we would call healthy. Yet we were all the beneficiaries of that sacrifice, me most of all. Every time I see the phrase: Nevertheless, she persisted, I think of my mom. She persisted and she persisted because she loved," Candance Chow