HURST, Texas – Relatives say Gracie Jackson's wish was always that she and her husband J.C., the love of her life for seven decades, would go to heaven holding hands.
On Thanksgiving Day, her wish came true.
J.C. Jackson, 97, died of congestive heart failure about 2:30 a.m. Thursday at a nursing home in this Fort Worth suburb. Twenty hours later, Gracie Jackson, 88, joined her husband of 69 years, dying of pneumonia.
The family insists J.C. Jackson did not go to heaven 20 hours sooner than Gracie.
"No, Daddy waited on her, and they went together," daughter Cathy Spence, 62, of Hurst said in Saturday's editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Relatives described the Jacksons as a devout, big-hearted couple from East Texas. They married on Christmas Day 1934 in Terrell and raised two sons and three daughters.
During World War II, the couple opened their home — with hot chocolate and dancing — to English fly-boys who came to Texas to train.
"The Jackson house was big, with a ballroom. I can still see the winding stairs," said daughter Judy Earhart, 67, of Overton. "It was like a USO show."
J.C. Jackson spent a half-century as a grocer, while Gracie helped make ends meet by sewing. And everyone knew about her cooking, relatives say.
"The tramps and the hobos would be riding the rails through there — there were a lot of them at the time," Spence said. "She never gave them money, but she would feed them."
Fried eggs mostly — sometimes bacon, toast and what the family remembers as heavenly biscuits.
Described as a little, slender couple who toiled together, the Jacksons moved to Fort Worth from Henderson in the early 1950s.
"We knew they loved each other, and they loved us," said daughter Toni Hood, 69, of North Richland Hills.
"They walked their talk," Earhart said.
Their walk on earth ended on the same day.