by Claude Jones
Claude won the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal’s
Mother’s Day Essay Contest in 2003 with this story
about the mom he proudly calls “the world’s greatest mother.”
Evelyn Jones is the best of mothers because of the love she has for her children, her strength physically, in character, mentally and emotionally, her endurance and her ability to deal with any obstacle or circumstance that may appear. She raised five children: four boys Joe, Larry, Claude and Steve Jones, and one daughter, Linda Jones Wingo. We were taught by our mother to work, though none of us could do as much work as she; we were taught to love God and our fellowman, though none of us loves like she loves; and we were taught to do the right things, though none of us have mastered the ability to decipher the truth as she can.
Our Mother, while milking cows in our Grade A dairy barn, raising cotton and corn on our small farm, raising our food in a garden and truck patch, still had time to be a great mother. She was a great cook, kept our clothes clean, starched and ironed. She took care of Grandpa Brown, played a mean piano, sung at hundreds of funerals all over Pontotoc County and was the best at reading aloud to us kids and inspiring us to read and learn.
When Mother stopped daily to read the funnies (comics) from the Tupelo Daily Journal, the whole household stopped to listen. She didn’t just read the words of the strip, she made sure we saw the expressions on each face, saw the background and understood the joke or the lesson being taught in the comic strip. She could mimic the voices of the characters in the strips, making the colored funnies of Sunday Edition a weekly highlight. When we kids were grown and gathered at her house each Sunday for lunch, after eating she would gather the grandchildren around her on the couch to read them the funnies, all of us grown kids would pull up chairs so we could hear them also.
Mother was amazingly agile and strong in pushing the car with the door open and guiding with one hand (her enthusiasm to get the car cranked and to go to church always seemed to exceed ours). She could push the hardest and run the fastest on the gravel, even though in her Sunday dress and high heel shoes. She knew the precise moment to jump in the car seat, turn on the key, clutch it and slam it into second, “pop” the clutch, pump the gas and it would fire off without fail. She would rev it up to keep it running while we jumped back in the car, and we were off to Ebenezer.
In the early ‘60s we stepped up to a 1959 Chevrolet, no power, no air, but with automatic transmission. The Chevy would crank most of the time, but not simply by turning the key to start as it was designed to crank. The solenoid on the starter worked only part time, the image of Mother in her Sunday dress, pill box hat and white gloves, bending over under the hood with a tire tool shorting out the solenoid on the starter to crank the car is forever burned in my mind. She didn’t complain, she just did what she had to do.
In 1969 the Jones family, and especially Mother, suffered two horrendous blows. Steve Jones, the youngest child and the one most like Mother in his musical abilities and with the same winning personality, was killed in a car wreck. Five months afterward our father died of a heart attack.
Mother was devastated, but she didn’t quit. In 1971 she ran for and was elected Circuit Clerk of Pontotoc County. She was reelected twice more and served honorably and efficiently her twelve years in office. She retired to have time to be a great grandmother and do things for her family.
All of the Jones kids have grown accustomed to being introduced as Evelyn’s son or daughter and we proudly honor her name. Though she is now past 80, it is extremely convenient to be able to go to her for advice or help and know she has the correct answer and is more than willing to do anything to help. She didn’t just raise us into adulthood and stop being our mother, she is still active in all our lives, whether the need is to encourage us or to correct us, she doesn’t hesitate and we don’t mind.
Claude Jones writes:
"I have lived all my life in Pontotoc, Mississippi -- raised on a farm where we milked cows, raised cotton, corn, and had a peach orchard. I've worked for Pontototc Electric Power for 31 years. My wife Ann and I have two sons, both are pharmacists, and we have two grandchildren."
Who Has The Edge?
Two Poems - II
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