“Every bear that I make, I pray over it and pray that God will give them comfort and peace,” Jackson said.
The retired widow recently started sewing ‘Memory Bears’ out of clothing belonging to lost loved ones.
“A lot of the bears still smell exactly like their loved one, and so they’re going to be able to close their eyes and hug it and smell. And, it’s going to be like they have their loved one there. I know it won’t bring them back, but it will bring them a little bit of comfort,” Jackon said.
Jackson sewed her first ‘Memory Bear’ out of a blue Lowes shirt that she remembers her late husband wearing; a happy memory of the moment they first met.
“Me and my husband met at Lowe’s. I started working in November 1998, and I’d been there about a week. I noticed this guy coming down the lumber aisle, pushing this big, huge picture window, and I thought, ‘that’s the most handsome man I’ve ever met,'” Jackson recalled.
With 2020 marking a rough year for so many, Juanita posted in a Roane County Facebook group that if anyone lost a loved one and needed something special to honor their memory, she’d be there to help.
While she sews, her sister, Wanda, stitches the embroidery; adding the name, date of birth, and death date to each unique item. They never set a price, giving most away for free and accepting donations if anyone wants to help cover the cost of buttons and stuffing.
“I thought, you know what, 2020 has been so hard on everybody. They’ve lost so much that these bears can bring a little bit of comfort,” Jackson said.
The bears have united Jackson with people living and deceased that she would have never met otherwise.
“One lady. She brought her shirt to me the other day and her husband had just passed away like two weeks ago. And so having to hand that item over to a stranger… It is broke my heart, and I told her, ‘I know what you’re going through. I lost my husband as well,'” Jackson said.