Glory Jackson decided it was time to go after her lifetime dream of becoming a foster parent.
In 2010, her husband of more than 30 years, Daniel, died from lung cancer. She found herself alone in the three-bedroom Fort Lauderdale home they’d shared for more than two decades. Her two children are grown.
“I said, ‘I can be good at this, I don’t have to have any special education. All I have to do is love the kids,’” Jackson said. “That’s like a gravy job.”
To prepare, she made sure she had an air-conditioning wall unit in each bedroom and the living room. But that first winter she ran into a problem — the heat didn’t work in the living room. By that time, she had been caring for two children. three siblings, two girls ages 3 and 5, and their 9-year-old brother.
In addition to the heating issues, the wall units aren’t energy efficient and they run up the electric bill. “I don’t use it as often as I would like to because of the expense,” she said. “It’s off most the time.”
She would love to have a more efficient central air unit. But the air-conditioning units aren’t Jackson’s only concern.
About a year ago, after the first two children had left, she took in three siblings, two girls ages 3 and 5 and their 9-year-old brother. In August, about two weeks after Jackson, 60 , took in her fourth foster child, a 13-year-old boy, she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. In October she underwent a bilateral mastectomy and recently began the first of 18 rounds of chemotherapy.
For now, she’s doing OK.
“With chemotherapy you may lose your hair, get extreme nausea, develop low white blood cell counts and I don’t plan on getting any of that,” Jackson said. “I don’t have time for that. I will have a record-breaking successful treatment.”
Jackson, a retired registrar at Millenium Middle School in Tamarac, said she will not take on any additional children but will keep caring for her four foster children. “The reason I foster is because I feel everyone can make a difference somehow,” Jackson said. “These are my babies and I can’t give them away just because I have cancer.”
In fact, Jackson said one of her biggest helpers has been her oldest foster child, whom she calls “a gift from God.”
“He will draw the girls baths, help them into the car seat and entertain them,” she said. “The 13-year-old isn’t their biological brother but He treats them like they are his sisters.”
He says he’s touched by the woman he calls grandma. “I think Ms. Jackson is the most awesome person in the world,” he said. “She makes us feel like a family. Most foster parents don’t do as much as she does for us. She gives us gifts, throws us parties, gives good food to us. She makes us feel loved and that’s what most foster kids need.”
He added that Jackson has provided him with the stability and structure he had been craving in his life.
The teen added that the air conditioning situation in the house can be bothersome at times.
“We don’t have heat,” he said, adding the air conditioning unit in his room gives off a foul smell when the heater is turned on. “If we just had a central unit it would be better because we wouldn’t have to worry about the AC.”
The first winter Jackson was a foster parent she was caring for two teens.
“Bigger kids you can say, ‘I need you to put your socks on, I need you to put our shoes on, I need you to get dressed in your room and come out,’” said Jackson. “With the little ones, I put their stuff on and they take it off and say ‘it’s hot.’’’
Aside from central air conditioning, Jackson said her Christmas wish is to have more people become foster parents.
“There are so many kids who need care,” she said.