Eulogy for Alice Jones

Alice May Jones (1928-2014)
Alice May Jones (1928–2014)

I think of my moth­er are an adven­tur­ous per­son. She thought noth­ing about pack­ing the five of us into a VW bug and head­ing to British Colum­bia. Or, when we were more grown, into a sta­tion wag­on and head­ing to West Vir­ginia, or Boston.

When she want­ed to revamp the kitchen cab­i­nets, but couldn’t afford to pay a pro­fes­sion­al to do it, she took a wood­work­ing class at the adult school, and built 18 feet of cab­i­net, with a Lazy Susan.

She was adven­tur­ous, and very prac­ti­cal about the steps required to set out on the adven­ture, and also a dream­er who some­times strug­gled when real­i­ty did not match her dream.

I’m going to read an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal sketch my moth­er wrote, prob­a­bly some time about 1983, I’m not sure when. She con­veys bet­ter than I can the blend of prac­ti­cal adven­tur­er and invet­er­ate dream­er she was. I think you’ll also see some of her sense of humor in her writ­ing.

I was grad­u­at­ed from High School in 1945 in Sheri­dan, Wyoming a small town in north­east­ern Wyoming.

I thought about going to nurs­ing school after that, but nice girls didn’t do that — they became teach­ers or got mar­ried and raised chil­dren. So I went away to col­lege in Hast­ings, Nebras­ka — where I real­ly had a ball. I think I must have majored in cam­pus­try. I took only what was inter­est­ing to me — music, French, Span­ish, and lit­er­a­ture.

I came to Cal­i­for­nia in 1947 and fell in love with the warm weath­er — and no snow to shov­el. I grad­u­at­ed from Glen­dale Col­lege in 1949, major­ing in music & lit­er­a­ture, and got mar­ried.

My hus­band was just out of the Navy, and between us we could­n’t have dug up bus fare out of town, but I start­ed mak­ing plans. It was going to be a beau­ti­ful life: I would have a house, a car, a baby grand piano, and 5 chil­dren — not nec­es­sar­i­ly in that order.

My first child, a daugh­ter, was born in 1950 and by the time she was two we had a car and a house — not bad for 24 years old.

There were 4 more chil­dren in the next 13 years, anoth­er daugh­ter and 3 sons. I worked a lit­tle here & there but nev­er steadi­ly until 1961, when I start­ed a busi­ness: Rese­da Nurs­es Reg­istry, and an all med­ical tele­phone answer­ing ser­vice. I sold this busi­ness when we moved to Simi Val­ley in 1963 — I need­ed to spend more time with my fam­i­ly. In about 1965, I was con­tact­ed by the Pres­i­dent of CNA Dist #5 in LA about run­ning their Reg­istry for them — which I did for about 8 years.

By then I had my piano and I was ready to retire. Every­thing accord­ing to plan. I did­n’t work for sev­er­al years — I took piano lessons and enjoyed being home with my chil­dren. I was for­tu­nate in that I had beau­ti­ful gift­ed chil­dren — just like the plan — involved in music — play­ing foot­ball, drill team etc.

My old­est daugh­ter grad­u­at­ed from Coun­ty USC School of Nurs­ing. My younger daugh­ter fin­ished high school at 16 and went to work for State Farm Insur­ance in T.O. She want­ed to go to night school, but was a lit­tle shy, so I told her I would go with her, if she would pick some­thing we would both enjoy — so we took con­ver­sa­tion­al Span­ish.

That got her start­ed and she went on her way, and so did I — more Span­ish and piano. Then I dis­cov­ered the Simi Val­ley Adult School, where I stud­ied oil pain­ing and stained glass and cab­i­net build­ing — all rather expen­sive hob­bies —. So I took a part time job with Brent­wood Nurs­es Reg­istry — to sup­port my habit.

By now, my youngest daugh­ter was a full time stu­dent and always look­ing for a part time job. Final­ly, she took the nurse’s aide course at the Adult School and loved it. In fact, she talked me into tak­ing it. I fin­ished, but was still work­ing at the Reg­istry. Any­way, one day, Simi Doc­tors’ Hos­pi­tal called her to work and she couldn’t go — but she told them she’d send her moth­er. And that’s how I start­ed work­ing in a hos­pi­tal.

In 1978, my hus­band had open heart surgery (6 bypass­es) — That wasn’t in my plan! — but he recov­ered nice­ly and was back at work in 3 weeks — so that was O.K. and I went on my mer­ry way.

Then, in 1981 Jana was killed in a car acci­dent — that wasn’t in my plan either — and it wasn’t O.K. — I met a Catholic Priest at the hos­pi­tal who has influ­enced my life for­ev­er. Over the next few months I began to real­ize that I had been liv­ing in fairy­land for 52 years. Things were not always going to work out the way I had planned. Life is so frag­ile. I may not have my hus­band for­ev­er, indeed, I might not have him tomor­row, and I had bet­ter pre­pare myself to take care of me.

She trails off there.…

You see, mom was a coura­geous dream­er, and often, but not always, ready to take the next chal­lenge.

Despite the fact that she dis­ap­peared from us over the last decade, I was com­fort­ed that her adven­tur­ous dream­ing, her sense of humor, and her love of music were the last things to go.