MORRISTOWN, TN (WATE) – It’s a real-life version of “The Notebook,” and you couldn’t write a better love story than that of Charles and Jackie McDaniel, a couple from Morristown, Tennessee who died within hours of each other earlier this week.
A Blind Date
Charles and Jackie met in Morristown on a blind date in when Charles was 18 and Jackie, 14. Their daughter, Suzanne Foster, says Jackie, who was originally from Detroit, lied to Charles about her age, telling him she was 18. So, they started dating. It wasn’t until a few months later, at Jackie’s birthday, when Charles happened to count the candles on her birthday cake, that he realized just how old Jackie was. They ran away together a few times, until Jackie’s father, then the Grainger County sheriff, told Charles he would put him in jail if Charles ran off with his daughter again.
They were married in 1967 and, 13 years later, welcomed their only child, Suzanne into the world.
Suzanne remembers her parents as loving and kind; they rarely fought and had a devout faith in God.
“Dad was always very modest,” Suzanne said. “In third grade, I snuck out a tube of red lipstick and put it on in the bathroom at school every day – really caked it on. Then I would wash it off at the end of the day before my dad picked me up.”
One day the teacher caught on and wouldn’t let her wash the lipstick off.
“Dad saw those red lips and I got in so much trouble,” Suzanne recalled. “Even to this day, if he saw me with red lipstick on, he would cut his eyes at me.”
Suzanne remembers her mother as an adamant shopper.
“Mom loved to shop – she was very spunky. She’d run your legs off outshopping you,” Suzanne said. “We would go shopping and all the girls at the stores knew us.”
It was in November 2016, around Thanksgiving, that Jackie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In August, she began experiencing complications and never came back from the hospital.
That same month, Charles was diagnosed with Stage IV liver, lung and brain cancer. The doctor told him he could live for two more years if they began chemotherapy immediately. Unfortunately, Charles was allergic to the drugs, which almost killed him.
When Jackie and Charles found out he had cancer, the couple was determined they would die together.
“Baby, we’re going to go together,” Suzanne remembered her father saying.
Suzanne took a leave of absence from her job as a nurse to care for her father while her mother stayed at an assisted living home in Morristown.
“He never lost faith,” remember Suzanne. “He was really my rock while he was battling cancer.”
Meanwhile, Jackie was fighting her own fight. Unable to keep food down, her weight dropped to 78 pounds.
Then, on Sunday night, Jackie called her daughter.
“This is it, baby girl,” Jackie told Suzanne as she held her hand. “Tell your dad I’ll be waiting on him.”
Jackie McDaniel died at 3:15 on Monday morning, November 6.
When Suzanne went to her father that morning, he asked her simply, “is your mom gone?” When she told her father that Jackie had passed away, Suzanne said he dropped his head and hardly said another word.
“I’ll never lose my faith,” Suzanne remembers her father saying. “I’ll never turn my back on God.”
Charles died the next day.
“Mom fought hard to wait on him,” said Suzanne. “When she went, he went with haste.”
Charles and Jackie leave behind a grandson, David Foster, and a 16-week-old granddaughter, Piper.
“Dad worried about that baby all the time,” Suzanne said.
Suzanne did her mother’s makeup for her funeral, at Jackie’s request.
“She didn’t want the funeral home to make her look like a clown,” Suzanne laughed.
Charles and Jackie McDaniel will have their funeral together Friday. They’ll be buried side-by-side in Morristown.