I am deeply grieving the loss of my beautiful mother who passed from this world on February 18, 2012. In the month since I last posted, my mother, Marty Jones, was unexpectedly diagnosed with a very rapidly progressing form of cancer. I was able to go back to home to Columbus to be with her during her last week at home, and during her last days physically on this Earth, in the hospital. I know I will never get over this loss, but will somehow learn to live with it. Thank you to everyone who has already offered me and my family condolences, support, and prayers.
We had a beautiful Celebration of Life on February 25, 2012 at Indianola Presbyterian Church, filled with the music that was so dear to her. Along with her pastors, siblings, best friend, and my sister and father, I had the honor to say some words, which I’m including here. Thank you for continued support.
I want to talk about how much my Mom taught me through Girl Scouts. Before I was old enough to be a Girl Scout, I tagged along when she was the leader of Tricia’s troop. Then she started a troop for girls my age when I was in kindergarten, and we lasted through my junior year in high school. Those of us who stayed in Girl Scouts that long owe it to my Mom’s love of the outdoors and camping. That’s when her character and toughness and silliness really shone through.
For one thing, she taught us girls not to be afraid of bugs; or she tried, teaching us by example and taking care of things with her bare hands when necessary. On one camping trip, I remember leaving a shirt with food spilled on it inside my sleeping bag during the day. Not thinking anything of it, I went to get in my sleeping bag after it was dark. I stuck my hand in first, only to find an army of ants crawling all over me and all throughout my sleeping bag. All of us girls shrieked in horror, but my Mom calmly took the sleeping bag, somehow killed all the ants, and traded sleeping bags with me for the rest of the trip.
She made us appreciate roughing it, teaching us how to saw branches into firewood, make fires in the rain, cook our own meals, and clean the latrine. In high school, she led our troop in a backpacking trip through the snow and sub-freezing temperatures, and made us all feel like better people for it. Through the tumultuous middle school years and beyond, she helped us resist the worst of girly peer pressure, helping us become truly strong, caring, capable young women. She would never let us say anything bad about anyone else, and, again, led by example. It was truly a revelation as a young girl, when I started noticing some other adults weren’t as patient, inclusive or loving as my Mom. I had honestly thought her kindness was an example of how everyone automatically grows up to be.
When we’d go camping, she loved nothing more than teaching us Girl Scout songs, and singing around the campfire. Many of these songs I already knew because she had sung them to me every night of my young childhood, as she lay next to me until I fell asleep. But she also joined in with our card games and got the giggles along with the rest of us. Whenever a camping trip came to an end, Mom reminded us to leave the campsite “better than we found it.” That way we couldn’t cut corners or make excuses that “it was like this when we got here.” That didn’t matter. We had to leave it better than we found it.
She also expressed this sentiment every time she went on a walk in the neighborhood; she would invariably come home carrying a stray bottle or can to recycle, that someone had carelessly littered along the path. As much as we would give her a hard time for slowing us down or getting dirty, we always knew she was doing the right thing, truly living out her beliefs.
My hope for all of us is that we can learn from my Mom’s beautiful life and continue her amazing legacy. She taught us so much about love, patience, kindness, and laughter. She truly left this world better than she found it. May we all strive to do the same.