In memory of
Robert Lee Jackson
Robert Lee Jackson, age 51, passed away January 8, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. He was born October 18, 1965, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Lee Jackson.
Robert is survived by his loving wife of 29 years, Mary (Ginger) Jackson; son, Cameron Jackson and wife, Alex Stampher; daughter, Francesca Jackson; mother, Helga Barger; and brother, Michael Jackson.
JANUARY 12, 2017
PORTER LORING NORTH CHAPEL
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Touchstone Ranch, 15751 South US Highway 281, Hico, TX 76457. www.touchstoneranchrecovery.com
Eulogy from Cameron Jackson:
Every year the Medina River kills zero people. Retirees come from miles away to witness its great power. Some say that the only safe way to traverse the river is in an inner tube with an ice chest full of beer in tow. Despite these dangers, my dad, my Uncle Mike and I (world renowned expert canoe pilots) set out to conquer this raging river. Our 9 hour journey would take us from the headwaters of the river in Bandera, Texas to our family's house some ways down the river. Louise and Clark had nothing on us.
Being the youngest member of our crew (I think I was only 10 at the time), my memories of that journey are a little hazy but one moment in particular stands out clear in my mind. We pushed off the shore and glided onto the deceptively calm waters. Our canoe weighed down as it was with beer and other necessary provisions we struggled a little foolishly to keep balanced even in those placid waters. Our vessel, an ancient red canoe that had sat under a house for years, immediately began to take on water. We considered these good omens.
Not 45 minutes later though, we heard the first crashing sounds of the Medina River's world renowned rapids. We all stiffened our backs and set our faces in grim determination as we saw the white churning of quick water. Uncle Mike barked commands from the stern.
"Right the foremast," he shouted.
My dad leaned forward in a pose like Washington crossing the Delaware.
"Boulder off starboard," he yelled. "20 degrees leeward!"
None of this happened. The moment we hit our first bit of turbulent water we all toppled out of the canoe and began floating through the "rapids." In reality, we probably all would have been perfectly fine if we had floated through that 20 yards of rough water, but at the time it certainly seemed like a life or death situation. Mike saved the canoe and the ice chest and managed to keep them from getting lost down river but the part I remember most is my dad making a mad grab for me as I threatened to float off. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to get a hand around my ankle. I was saved! My dad had saved me!
He certainly saved me from floating down river but in doing so he almost drowned me. Imagine Robert standing there holding me by the ankle, face down in the water as I struggled mightily to flip over and get a breath. My dad had saved me only to kill me!
Eventually he realized he was drowning me, pulled me up and dragged me to shore. I sat there shooting water out of my nose. My dad smoked a cigarette.
Many of us have similar memories of Robert Jackson. He may have saved some of us from "floating down the river" but at other times he may have left us with a little water up our nose. To say that Robert left unblemished good memories for all would be a lie and I think that now at least is a good time for truth. To say that Robert took care of himself is a lie. To say that his days were painless and carefree would be a lie. To say that I (or others) were never frustrated with Robert would be a lie.
But, there is also truth. To say he loved and was proud of his childrenâ€¦that is true, I know. To say that he was a good friend to many, that he was willing to help fix a car or help someone in needâ€¦that is true. To say that he loved us and we loved himâ€¦that is true and most important.
We all knew Robert in different capacities. Whether you were a friend, a wife, a mother, a brother or a daughter, whether you were close with him or just knew him casually, you probably noticed that there was some dissonance in his life. Something kept him distant, alone or guarded at times.
I certainly noticed. I knew my Dad had demons at an early age. I would get so frustrated when he was drunk and involved or sober and aloof. It was like having two different dads and I didn't know which one to trustâ€¦so I chose neither. Up until the last time I saw him I was frustrated and angry at the way he treated himself.
I say this not to berate him or to tarnish the many good memories of Robert, but to share with you something that I wished I was wise enough to realize earlier. My dad was no coward as I sometimes used to think. In fact, I think he was very brave. Anybody who has ever been sad, anxious or angry knows that we often take it out on those we love most. Robert was sad, anxious and angry a lot of the time. But he tried his best not to lash out at anyone he loved as we all sometimes do. It took all his energy to spare us from the worst of what he felt inside. I now think that he drank not so that he could hide from his problems but so that maybe he could feel a little like his true self even if it was for a short, bittersweet moment.
My dad was brave. He took those demons and kept them inside. He was often alone, locked in quiet struggle, keeping the things he felt inside at bay. Like a soldier jumping on a grenade, he kept his sadness inside in an effort to save those around him. But that's a heavy burden for a man to carry.
So let us not think of Robert as a man who died from drinking. I don't think that explains it. Let us remember Robert as a man who had a lot of pain. A pain that even those closest to him never really understood. A pain, that despite its magnitude, he kept inside and hidden from the world. A pain that, eventually, he could not hold any longer.
Let us remember Robert as a brave man who left us with many good memories. Let us remember Robert sleeping in his hammock out at the country. Let us remember Robert sitting in the river. Let us remember Robert tinkering in the garage. Let us remember the old cruddy blue truck that he loved. Let us remember a man who worked hard to support his children. Let us remember Robert as a good son, friend, husband, brother and father. Let us remember Robert as brave man.
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