You bought me a what?

Published 12:56 am Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Son surprises mom with new home

When Donté Jackson handed over the keys Saturday to the to modest brick home on Andalusia’s Manavista Street, his mother had that look – the one that says, “I don’t believe a word that’s coming out of your mouth.”

It took a full minute for the realization to sink in.

“It’s yours, Mom,” Jackson said to Belita Green. “This is your house.”

With the keys grasped tightly in her hand, she moved into hug her son and said, “Thank you; thank you; thank you. Does it have granite? Oh my, it does? Oh my.”

Jackson – a Naval aviator who, in his 23-year career, has risen to the rank of lieutenant commander – said he hatched the secret plan because he wanted to give something back to “the woman who gave so much” to him and his family.

As if it wasn’t enough to bring him into the world, Jackson said his mother went one step further when she opened her home to his son, Andalusia High School junior Devante, two years ago when he and his wife – a master chief petty officer in the Navy – were sent on separate deployments. He to China, and she, a sea-going deployment out of Virginia, Jackson said.

“My mom is helping raise our son in Andalusia,” Jackson said. “I’ve always wanted to do something special for her. Before, I wasn’t financially able to, but now I am…and this is what I came up with.”

It wasn’t easy to pull off either, Jackson said.

Now that the couple is stateside and stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., the project meant every other weekend trips to Andalusia and work under the cover of darkness to remodel the four-bedroom, bath-and-a-half, 1,260-square foot home. Jackson gave local realtor Candy Kyle the credit for finding the home he purchased in February. It took more than a year to find the perfect property, Jackson.

At first, she didn't believe him.

At first, she didn’t believe him.

“My mom lives in a small wood-framed house, and when I saw the house on Manavista, I knew it was the one,” Jackson said. “It was in the same neighborhood I grew up in a child, and it’s also around the corner from my aunt, who’s my mom’s sister.”

It took nearly five months and a team of locals – Jack Ammons, Robert Williams, Ricky Daniels, James Ward and Willie Frank Tolbert – to transform and outfit the property from top to bottom.

“And I was here until 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning, praying no one would call the law, thinking I was breaking in,” Jackson said.

Somehow, the family was able to keep the project a secret.

“I had no clue,” Green said about her son’s surprise. “People were asking me if Donte’ had bought a house here, and I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I never thought he’d buy me a house. Who does that?”

Kyle – who was in on the secret – said, “I’ve been in real estate for 30 years, and this was a first for me, someone buying a house and surprising someone with it. It’s been the most rewarding sale ever.”

Green said she plans to begin moving as soon as possible.

“I can’t wait to get my shed out here,” she said.