In my previous post here I had related where I was on 9/11: On my way to visit my father in his retirement home. I heard the news of the attacks on the radio as I was driving. I’ve talked about my father before, but I thought I might take that story as a chance to talk a bit more about him, Clarence Jones, an amazing man by any account, and not just because he lived to be 99 1/2 years of age.
My father went to live at Hilltop Retirement Manor in 1992. The following year I returned home from Papua New Guinea and I loved visiting him there. We would play dominoes often, something we had done for many years. Also during this these visits I sometimes took a tape recorder with me and I recorded many of his memories.
He was known by all the residents as Rev. Jones. Like he had done as pastor at Otego Christian Church, he went around praying for people, visiting them or going for walks with them. It wasn’t that he thought he was the chaplain for the Retirement home, he was just continuing his lifestyle of being there for others.
He also continued his morning Bible reading. His Bible was always open on his footstool. Since his hands were shaky, instead of holding the Bible, he would lean over with his elbows on his knees and read in that posture. It was my father who started the saying, “No Bible, no breakfast.” But at Hilltop sometimes he was called to breakfast before he had finished reading his scheduled chapter. On those days he would tell me, “Imagine, Grace, eating breakfast before reading my Bible, unthinkable.” He said it as if he were thoroughly disgusted with himself. I reminded him that he was a slower reader now with his eyesight slowly failing, but my excuses for him did not put salve on his conscience. It’s hard to break the habits of years.
He still loved to play dominoes—oh, not Mexican Train or Chicken Foot. He only played “real dominoes”—for points. He always won. And I wasn’t trying to lose. It just happened–like he had done for many years.