Flora Jackson Watchs NFL and NBA Into The Wee Hours

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIJune 6, 2009

I had the pleasure of meeting a 99-year-young lady who told me she watches NFL and NBA sports into the wee hours of the night.

Sports and quilting help make her sharp mind, sharper.

Here is a tribute to a woman who has seen a lot during her nearly 100 year journey in America.  She was born in Alabama and now she resides in Cleveland, Ohio.

Here is her tribute:

Some people define "greatness" by the amount of money or power a person possesses.  I rather define it by the amount of clarity you have at 99 years old.

Today, I met a great lady who gave birth to eight children.  She served as a midwife during her younger days and she helped deliver more than 50 babies, some of whom may have grown up to be professional athletes.  She has made more than 100 original handmade quilts.  And, she is still going strong.

I asked Mrs. Flora Jackson what was her favorite song and she said "Amazing Grace."  She made a wise choice because when I looked at how firm her facial contour is, and how bright her eyes are, I did not see a woman approaching 100 years.  I saw a beautiful, creative and wise woman. 

I saw something more in Mrs. Flora Jackson.  I saw a mathematician who expressed her mathematics through the art of quilting. 

Earlier I indicated to readers that I see mathematics in sports.  Now, I can not help but honor a woman who told me she loves to watch sports, and do her quilting.

I asked her what her favorite subject was as a young student and she said, "Arithmetic." Her response made so much sense.   

I looked at several quilts that Mrs. Jackson made.  They were filled with reflections, rotations, and scaling.  Her generation may not have learned the matrix theory about rotational matrices, but she saw the beauty in the transformations and she designed her quilts to give you a beautiful visual impression. 

One quilt was made with triangles and squares.  The triangles were inscribed in a square.  As you look at each triangle, you see that it is rotated 90 degrees.  There were four triangles in each square, and each one was rotated 90 degrees to yield the position of the next one.   

Mrs. Jackson represented this math idea in her quilts.  However, her creative expression can be represented mathematically by a 2 by 2 matrix with the following components.  Let x = 90 degrees.  We would have a transformation, 

cos x    -sin x

sin x       cos x 

The determinant associated with this two by two matrix has a value of one.  In fact, the expansion is the Pythagorean identity. Such a matrix, when applied to a representation of a geometric figure would rotate the figure without stretching or shrinking it. 

I know what you are saying, "Mrs. Jackson does not know what you are talking about."  I would answer, "Mrs. Jackson does not need to know my language.  Her language is expressed in the design of each and every one of her quilts." 

What is needed is inter generational communication to understand what Mrs. Jackson sees in this world, and what our generation sees.  We can learn from her what it takes  to make this a better world, encompassing more beauty, respect and appreciation for one another. 

Since Mrs. Flora Jackson watches NFL football on television, she appreciates sports.  I believe it keeps her mind invigorated.  It could be that the exciting sports telecast in the background, entertains her as she sits and patiently designs and sews her quilts for hours.

What I have learned in these many years of studying, learning and teaching mathematics is that Mrs. Flora Jackson has a great mind, a creative mind, and a powerful discipline to envision and design a quilt, cut and sew the quilt, and select beautiful colors to emphasize the mathematical design of her quilts.   

I noticed that most of her quilts used polygons such as rhomboid, rectangles, squares and triangles. Several of them have the rotation, shifting and scaling quality. 

I am honoring the 99-year-old creative matriarch from  Pitts view, Alabama.  Indeed, she is a great lady, poised, dignified and beautiful. 

She was born on October 15, 1909. She was about 17-years-old when professional football started in America.  

She is alert and wise. I asked Mrs. Jackson, "What words of wisdom would you like to share with young people?" 

She answered, "Tend to your business, and let everybody else's alone." 

Her succinct response is respected.  No doubt she has been blessed with longevity because she has focused on God's plan for her life.   

One of Mrs. Flora Jackson's favorite scriptures is Psalm 119:105:  "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." 

Mrs. Jackson's countenance is bright.  Her wisdom is profound at her age.  She selected the Psalm which is considered "a Bible within the Bible." 

There are 22 stanzas in Psalm 119, and each stanza is named for a Hebrew alphabet.  Her focus was not narrow because the light and lamp which has guided her nearly 100 years has directed her to some of the most profound passages in the Bible. 

I salute a great American, Mrs. Flora Jackson.   Thank you, Mrs. Flora Jackson for being a giant on which future generations can stand on, and to see farther into a glorious future for America. 

Thank you, Mrs. Flora Jackson for telling me you love to watch NFL games and NBA games on television.  No doubt they have played a part in energizing you in your wonderful golden years.  Thanks for being a great fan!