Hello, My name is Teresa Mackey. I live in Laurel, Mississippi, with my dear husband of more than 43 years, Mark. We have two beautiful children, Mallory, who lives in State College, PA, and Quinn, who lives in Hattiesburg, MS.
Our family has always been very close and supportive of one another. We moved my mother here from Tallahassee, Florida, about six years ago to provide support as she was 80 and she needed someone close by to help out when needed and to keep her from being lonely. The opportunity left all of us with cherished memories of our time together. It was such a special time for all of us, and because of it, each of us remains blessed especially since we lost her in June of 2021.
My career background is elementary education. Mark and I had our children later in life, as I was completing my teaching degree. My first degree was in horticulture, which had given me a limited background in design. I finished my degree after Mallory was born. I wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with our beautiful daughter so I took a position at Highland Baptist Church, where I worked in its kindergarten.
It was a half-day program, and Mallory was able to go with me and enjoyed having playmates as she learned to socialize. While I worked there, I was able to start a yearly Bike-A-Thon that supported Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital. During my tenure, we were able to provide more than $12,000 to the hospital. Toward the end of my teaching career, I taught science at East Jones Elementary in Jones County, MS. While at East Jones Elementary, I established a scholarship fund to encourage students to do their best on the state science test. The scholarship was awarded to the recipients at their sixth-grade graduation ceremony each year, and it was given to my students and a fellow science teacher’s students. The children loved competing for the scholarship money and receiving it in their graduation ceremony. It remains one of the highlights of my final years of teaching. My heart has always leaned toward helping others.
My retirement came several years before I had planned because of my health. I was barely hanging in there daily at the end of the 2019 school year. Rather than go to the end-of-the-year luncheon, I went to the doctor. I found out that I had hepatitis C, which had apparently been destroying my organ systems. I developed diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver from hepatitis C. I was able to take 12 weeks of medication and was ultimately cured of the infection I was still not strong enough to return to work and had to retire because my sick leave was about exhausted. Next, I went in for my mammogram appointment. I received a call back, and they performed a follow-up mammogram. They found a suspicious lump during the examination. Unfortunately, it was cancer, which led to a year of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments. Today, I am a week away from celebrating my first anniversary of ringing the bell to signal the end of my chemotherapy treatments.
I am sharing this unpleasant segment of my life because in July 2020 I began spiraling into depression. I broke down in tears during a day of chemo. My nurse asked what was wrong because I was and I am generally a very positive person. Between the chaos of COVID-19, the daily marches and riots in the streets and the social unrest, the pressure became too much to bear. Both of my children had crises in their personal lives, and I wanted nothing more than for all of us to be able to come together and support each other.
My infusion nurse suggested that I find a hobby so that I could escape the mess and have something to distract myself from it all. I came home that day and began searching through my house for old jewelry to take apart and reconstruct into something new and beautiful. My art journey began in July 2020 because of that suggestion from my sweet nurse.
Since that time, my art creations have evolved. I added acrylic paint pouring and even combined the reconstructed jewelry and paint-pouring together. I never intended to start a business, but I felt compelled to do so because of a need to make something good and positive that others could benefit from and enjoy. My business plan is to give 20% of profits to local charities and to help promote things that interest me in Laurel and Hattiesburg.
The doctors here in Laurel and in Hattiesburg helped save my life, and I plan to give back to my two communities. I believe God brought me to this point for a reason, and I’m acutely aware that my newfound passion – art – was divinely inspired from His whisper into the ear of my loving infusion nurse’s ear that desperate day in July 2020.