Describing the entire experience as incredibly painful in this new interview, the mother of NASCAR‘s most popular driver opens up about a truly devastating and tragic moment that stands out in the memory of her custody arrangement with Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Brenda Jackson, mother of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt, sat down this week for her daughter’s bi-weekly podcast that features her granddaughter, too. The episode, titled ‘Mother’s Day With Brenda Jackson’ was all about what they did for Mother’s Day and differences between now and when Kelley was a kid, but there was one topic they landed on that was filled with searing emotion.
As a special surprise for Mother’s Day, ESPN got Dale Jr. to sit down and write a heartfelt letter to Jackson. Then, they had him read it on camera, but there was one thing they didn’t tell him – that his mom was listening to the whole taping from the other room.
When Kelley and Jackson got to talking about this beautiful and heartwarming moment, it also brought up a long-passed time when Jackson went through great lengths to pick her kids up for a visit…but when she got to the pickup point, there was nobody waiting.
“We lived with you for the first ten years of my life and then we moved in with our dad because we had a house fire,” Kelley began recalling. “So times with Mom were weekends or a couple weeks in the summer – which we made it all about fun.”
“A lot of things we didn’t see, Mom, the sacrifices you guys had to make in order to make that work and Dale talked about you driving six hours to pick us up on a Friday at five…”
As Dale Jr. had spoken about, his mom would often drive six hours just to pick he and his sister up for a visit and then turn around and drive the six hours back home so that they could spend holidays and quality time together. But there was one time she never got to pick them up.
“I remember one time, oh goodness, the traffic was terrible – they had a wreck or something,” Jackson said, vividly remembering the saddening moment. “I was late getting there, which I had called and told him I was in traffic and was late, but they had to leave to go to the race – so they just loaded y’all up with them and I got there and y’all were gone….it was heartbreaking.”
“It was terrible. I cried,” She said, adding, “Then your daddy has to call me up because I guess y’all were crying too. And he calls me up and asks if I would please talk to y’all.”
Kelley acknowledged the immense sacrifices her mom had made all those years to be close with her kids, saying that she can’t imagine going through something like that.
It truly must’ve been a heartbreaking experience, but Jackson much prefers to look on the bright side, saying “I don’t like to dwell on all that – I like to dwell on all the fun times!”
Listen to Kelley and Jackson’s new podcast episode below.