Amanda Jackson and her daughter Raylynn Driskill, 3, stand with Amanda’s mother, Cari Jackson, in the New Bethel Cemetery. The memorial stone for Amanda’s son, Daylynn is set at the foot of the graves of Daylynn’s great-grandparents, Terry and Nancy Jackson. All three were killed in the tornado one year ago today. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/
Amanda Jackson and her daughter Raylynn Driskill, 3, stand with Amanda’s mother, Cari Jackson, in the New Bethel Cemetery. The memorial stone for Amanda’s son, Daylynn is set at the foot of the graves of Daylynn’s great-grandparents, Terry and Nancy Jackson. All three were killed in the tornado one year ago today. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/
A small Tupperware container of photos is one of few tangible connections Cari and Amanda Jackson have from their life before March 2, 2012.

"We still can't believe we have nothing," Cari said. "We haven't found the washer, dryer, the hope chest, the stairwell."

"Sometimes you sit and wonder where it all went," Amanda said.

The March storm swept through the region, claiming the lives of three family members - Daylynn Jackson, 4, Nancy C. Jackson, 70, and Terry M. Jackson, 70, while destroying their homes.

Amanda lost her son, Daylynn, while her mother, Cari, lost her parents, Nancy and Terry. 

This week, Cari put some of the finishing touches on her new Saluda Township home on Jackson Road. The appliances are unwrapped and installed, and there's a fresh coat of paint and new flooring in every room. The basement includes a safe room.

Not far down the road, Amanda has a new home being built.

Moving in - which should happen by the end of March or early April - will mark another step toward stability, but the circumstances are anything but ideal.

"People keep saying they can't wait for a house-warming party," Cari said. "I'm not having a house warming. It's not a show."

"I still can't call it home," she added. "I know in time ... I hope I live long enough to be able to call it home."

One year after the tragic event, both Cari and Amanda say they take things day-to-day. Each day brings a new memory, a new reminder.

"There's always something that reminds me of them," Cari said. "Like today it's raining. If it were spring, dad would be on high heaven, because the crops would be planted."

Amanda is coping with the losses while working to provide for her three daughters, ages 3, 7 and 11, maintaining a rental property and overseeing a build and move.

"Still, a year later there is always something, whether it be doctors' appointments, whatever," she said. "Just things you don't expect you ever would have had to do."

Amanda still suffers the physical pains from the storm, too - ailments that aren't likely to fade soon, if ever.

During the tornado, she was picked up and tossed to the ground. Her right arm was nearly torn off.

She remained conscious the entire time, a fact she, her doctors and even meteorologists who have spoken with countless tornado victims can hardly wrap their minds' around.

"The doctor told me, 'You don't want to know how hard you hit the ground,'" Amanda said. "I looked at him and said, 'I know how hard I hit the ground. I was awake.' I felt bones breaking, crushing. In the air, I kept telling myself, 'Once you hit the ground, it's going to kill you.'"

The storm was so powerful that it ripped up the concrete foundation of Terry and Nancy Jackson's home and sent Amanda's SUV in pieces down the road to Paynesville.

Amanda eventually had surgery on her arm, but doctors recently discovered three herniated discs in her neck and arthritis in her hips.

She returned to work three months ago as bar manager at Hoopsters Bar & Grill in New Washington, but her energy and endurance comes and goes.

"When I work the weekend, on Monday I'm just shot," she said.

After the tornado, Amanda stayed in a camper for two months before getting a rental property in New Washington. Cari stayed in a hotel.

For months, they dealt with doctors' appointments and were inundated with paperwork and checklists from organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They saved every receipt with the hope of qualifying for assistance.

FEMA paid $5,000 for each funeral, but the funding stopped there.

While Amanda and Cari believe dealing with FEMA was a "waste of time," they have had consistent support from community and church groups in Clark County.

A church recovery team from New Albany has helped the family in the long-term, often giving them gift cards to purchase groceries or gas. Amish workers installed the trusses on Amanda's home for free.

"If it wasn't for (the volunteers and church helpers), I don't know where we'd be," Amanda said.

Cari, who works at the Madison State Hospital as a psychiatric attendant, said she still has trouble returning to work. Her first days back, she drove by Daylynn's daycare and had a panic attack. She used to pick him up almost daily.

"That was just our time together," she said.

On March 2, she was at work when the tornadoes hit, but she saw radar screens showing a tornado-producing system hovering over her family's property. She rushed home to find her neighborhood and home destroyed and her life turned upside down.

"I knew," she said about her parents' deaths, "but I didn't think Daylynn."

After the storm, connections popped up nearly everywhere. Cari started noticing that things - gifts, songs, whatever - came in waves of four, which was Daylynn's age.

"I believe they've all come back," Cari said.

Both Cari and Amanda describe Daylynn as a happy child who loved the movie "Toy Story," so much that he insisted on being called "Woody," the film's cowboy character.

He even wore a Woody outfit on Halloween and most days after.

"He wore that Halloween outfit every day," Amanda recalled. "At night time, I had to take it off him and wash it. Then he'd wear it again."

Cari said she misses the little things about her parents.

The Jackson's farm in Chelsea is more than 200 acres, which is where Cari's new house sits. Terry, a lifelong farmer, worked land well beyond his own property. He once owned land in parts of Jefferson, Scott and Clark counties.

"All he ever did," Cari said.

Her father also served as a helping hand around the neighborhood and had no issues breaking out the tractor to plow the roads and driveways when it snowed.

"He couldn't wait for it to snow," Cari said. "He'd get the tractor out and clean everybody's lane."

Morgan & Nay Funeral Centre took care of the preparations and services, and "went beyond the call of duty," Amanda said.

At the funeral, thousands of visitors paid their respects to the Jackson family. Cari knew about 90 percent of those attending the service.

"They'd tell a story, and I knew all about it," she said.

For Daylynn, a memorial stone was prepared in record time - less than two months and before his birthday on May 19.

The stone sits under a small tree in New Bethel Cemetery in front of Nancy and Terry Jacksons' gravesites.

It's 44 inches tall - the same height as Daylynn - and shaped into a rocket ship. On the stone, pictures of "Toy Story" characters surround Daylynn's photo.

He's smiling.

On the bottom an engraving reads, "To infinity and beyond."