If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can see a boy alone in a field. The field is bathed in brilliant warm sunshine, and bees buzz among the clover and dandelions. In his hands he holds a stick which he imagines is a horse. He runs around the field, following a track he has worn in the green, green grass. I imagine he is happy, but I can’t be sure.
This boy loves animals, and he loves people. It’s good that he does, since he has many siblings, seven to be precise. With so many children around he likely is not lonely. He loves his brothers and sisters, and he also loves his mother, Lilly Mai (Barrows) Jones, who is sweet and kind. I can’t quite tell how this boy feels about his father, Eddie Samuel Jones, a man who can be harsh and rough, but I’m sure there is love between them.
Since he comes from a big family, I imagine he will grow up to have many children himself. In fact, I expect he’ll have six daughters, and cherish all of them. I can also see him becoming someone who works with animals, perhaps a farmer, and someone who works with people, perhaps a preacher man.
His childhood will be spent learning to butcher, to drive horses, to cut ice out of frozen lakes. He will learn to hunt and dress a deer and to fix machines. Of course, there will still be plenty of days to play. This boy will also learn about God.
His mother and father will tell him about their family, the colorful people who are a part of this boy’s story. He will learn how his great aunt used to drive horses as they pulled barges along a branch of the Erie Canal, and the boy will even swim in an abandoned part of that very canal. He will be told about his great aunt and uncle, Curly and Adeline Flynn. They once drove a covered wagon clear from New York state to Kansas to visit their son, Clarence. Clarence Flynn, the boy will learn, is his second cousin, and this boy with the stick horse will learn he is named after his cousin from Kansas.
This boy in the field, Clarence Jones, will grow up to be many things. He will become a father and a farmer, a pastor and a friend, a husband, a servant to all and a pillar of the community. He will grow to become a remarkable man, a man who lives to be 99 years old.
He is, was, and always will be, a man of character, a man of God, and the most wonderful father I could ever have asked for.
He will always be my dad.