Dad’s Tribute

The following was written by my mother and me.

Dr. Bobby Jones (1952 – 2012) SHELBY – Robert “Bobby” Spurgeon Jones, Jr. was born in Durham on June 13, 1952 and died on August 26, 2012.

He was preceded in death by grandparents Joseph Henry Jones and Euphemia Livingston Watson, and Yates Sperling and Essie Idella Spangler.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Dr. Martha McBrayer Jones, two children Warrant Officer Robert Matthew Jones and wife Leighia Angel Jones and grandson Robert Matthew Jones, Jr. of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Bonnie Marie Jones of Durham. He is also survived by his parents, Dr. Robert S. Jones, Sr. and Mabel Sperling Jones, two brothers Joseph Henry Jones and wife Julie Bradshaw Jones of Barnwell, South Carolina and Dr. Stephen Watson Jones and wife Dr. Kelly Eubanks Jones of Shelby, one brother-in-law Casey McBrayer of Rutherfordton, as well as three nieces and a nephew: Juliet and William Jones of Barnwell, South Carolina and Natalie and Caroline Jones of Shelby.

Bobby moved to Shelby at age six and was baptized at First Baptist Church. He attended Shelby High School and graduated in 1971. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 1974 with a major in Biology. In 1975, he married Martha McBrayer. Bobby was a member of the first four-year class of East Carolina School of Medicine, now the Brody School of Medicine, graduating in 1981. He completed his residency in Family Medicine at University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1984. Dr. Bobby was board certified in Family Practice after completing his residency program and passing the AAFP board certification testing. Subsequently, Dr. Bobby did additional training and certification in geriatric medicine. He was an active member of the North Carolina Medical Society, North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Bobby returned to Shelby in 1984 joining his father at Jones Family Practice. In 1988, he opened Cleveland Family Practice. He had a wonderful staff and nurses who helped him serve their patients, and provide fine medical care to the community. Medicine was not only a profession for Dr. Bobby, it was a passion. He often said that he took joy in knowing his patient’s hearts and charts; what hurts them and heals them; who they love and what they love. Dr. Bobby also helped cultivate a new generation of doctors by serving as a preceptor for many family medicine students who studied with him in Shelby. In 2006, Cleveland Family Practice was acquired by CaroMont Health. They enjoyed a collaborative relationship and continued to serve their patients.

He was also an author. He contributed to a number of medical journals and medical texts, created several works of fiction, and authored a coloring book dedicated to his grandson. Despite his illness, he continued to work on a mandolin instruction book, which is co-authored with Wayne Benson. Acoustic music and his love for the mandolin resonated with Dr. Bobby, his family and his friends.

Music was a shared joy among all the members of the Jones family, and Dr. Bobby believed that a family that picks together, sticks together. Throughout the years, he was a member of Sawbone’s Grass, RiverBend Bluegrass Band, New River and Flint Hill Band. He was a frequent guest performer with Darin and Brooke Aldridge. More recently, he performed with The Leonard McSwain Band, and New Plowed Ground. He sang and played mandolin on 4 CDs. He was a member of the International Bluegrass Musicians Association. Dr. Bobby also played with the praise bands at Central United Methodist Church and Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

He loved hot summer days on a golf course. For years, he joined Jake Kiser to play a round of golf on Wednesdays at River Bend Golf Course for the “choose up,” as well as many evenings spent playing a few holes with his son. He played in several tournaments to include the annual Member Guest at River Bend and the Bobby Jones Open which he attended with both his son and father.

Throughout his illness, he was humbled to receive so many cards and remembrances from his patients and his friends. The family has appreciated the many prayers offered up in support. We have truly been surrounded by love.

Dr. Bobby had a tenacious spirit. He loved God and his family, and strived to live a humble life. He believed in the power of Faith, family, friends, music and fine medical care. He was honored to serve his patients and their families for twenty eight years. Even after his diagnosis, he maintained that he has lived better than many people ever get to or any of us deserve. He goes on to join his loved ones in heaven where the only patients he will attend to are those he watches over on earth, the music is always in time and in tune, and the golf balls fly with the slightest draw. He will live on through the love he shared with his family and friends on earth.

Dr. Bobby’s receiving of friends will be held at Cecil Burton Funeral Home on Tuesday, August 28th from 6pm-8pm. His funeral will be Aldersgate United Methodist at 4:30pm on Wednesday, August 29th with reception to follow in the Epworth Building. Dr. Bobby’s wish was that his friends who are musicians join in a jam session at both the receiving and the reception to celebrate his life.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 1207 West Dixon Boulevard, Shelby, NC 28152, (704) 487-5216, www.aldersgateshelby.com; Musicians Against Childhood Cancer, 1434 S. 3 B’s and K Rd., Galena, OH 43021, (740) 548-4199, macc@bluegrassclassic.com, www.bluegrassclassic.com Or Brain Tumor Fund of the Carolinas, www.btfcnc.org/, (704)635-8643. Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the family of Dr. Bobby Jones. Guest Registry is available atwww.cecilmburtonfuneralhome.com

Save the Judgment

A few years ago, a friend of mine who was a recovering alcoholic got terribly drunk one night, screamed at her husband, went outside, slammed the door to her car, and put a pistol in her mouth. It was horrible. It was horrible to watch her slip back into alcoholism after nearly a decade of sobriety. It was horrible to hold her husband and have him tell me the last thing she ever said to him was, ‘you never loved me.’ It was horrible to watch the police investigate in what they quickly determined was a suicide complete with note, finger prints, and stigma. It was horrible to find out that her blood alcohol level was many, many times the legal limit, and enough that any normal person would have been dead just from alcohol poisoning. The whole experience was horrible.

In the mist of all the confusion and the askings of ‘why?’, one of my bosses who found out, and had the clarity of mind to respond by inquiring, “Tell me about your friend.” It was a beautiful moment in my life. There was no judgment; only an opportunity to recall the good things about my friend.

Since my dad got sick, I’ve gotten enough advice on how to ‘do this better’ to float the Titanic back to the surface. It is a very rare friend who will put aside wanting to hear their own opinions and voice rattle on and on, and just say you’re doing good, or thinking of you. As brutally honest as it may seem, the best intentions often come off as patronizing, and I’m know I’m not the first care taker to feel that way. If you haven’t been through it, be careful to judge so harshly.

I’ve got news folks. This is hard, sometimes dirty, heartbreaking, physically straining work, not some cutesy fairy tale that many of the patronizers have in their minds. So, did I remember to put protein in his pudding? Yes. Do I turn him often enough? Yes. Do I sing to him? Yes. Do I tell him I love him at every opportunity? Yes. Did I go through a master’s program in counseling and thoroughly understand my feelings are normal in a textbook? Yes. (And by the way, I still have the right to feel that way; it doesn’t make me weaker to feel the same things as the rest of the human population.) Am I aware of which medicines can and cannot go with each other, what time to give them, and how to use injections if necessary? Yes. So please, next time you have a friend going through a hard life event, save the judgment. Find out if you friend needs support, a listening ear or advice because these are very different ways to support a friend in need.

The Long Pause

What is it about endings that make you crave beginnings?  The last week has been full of endings and hope for new beginnings.  I finally ended my relationship with Joe.  It was a long time coming, but it’s still emotional to end a relationship that you’ve had in your life.  And on a much more important scale, my dad is doing no better.  I don’t even dare to guess how long he has left.  Every estimate by every doctor, friend or family member has been eclipsed now.  I am living in the long pause, the slow inhale, before the exhale of the end.  I have fully accepted it now.  Sometimes, I think he has struggled this long so that we would all have time to accept this as the end, the final period (or for those that are spiritual, the semicolon.) 🙂

The end.  It’s such a loaded term.  All of my favorite childhood stories signed of in the famous phrase, “The End.”  But somehow after reading those words, I never really felt sad to say goodbye to the story.  It was always warming that the story was now part of my being, and it was good.  I’ve made peace with this as the feeling about my dad’s “The End.”  Up until his cancer, it truly was a fairy tale.  A story so pure and so good that it leaves you with warmth that glows from within.  I get to carry that forward with me.

I know this seems odd but my mom and I have already started grieving this, even though we are still in the long pause.  In truth, we really started grieving the day he was diagnosed.  This was in fact the inevitable outcome.  Now that he can’t communicate with us anymore, it’s easy to miss him already.  And so we step forward each day, ever so reluctantly and lightly, but the march of time and the inevitability of this all makes us walk forward regardless.  I can only hope that on the other side of this chapter I can begin anew with “Once Upon a Time.”  I could really use a “Once Upon a Time.”

Not Just Your Average Joe

It’s funny the things that worry you when you’re going through a major life event.  Here I am saddled with grief over watching my father slip away from me, and what’s nagging at me is that I need to break up with my boyfriend.  Yes, that’s right.  I have a boyfriend.  To all my friends that might be reading this, bet you didn’t know that, huh?  We started dating April 1, 2011.  Yes, that’s 2011.  He’s been around as ‘one of my best friends’ for a LONG time, but he’s really been my boyfriend.  I have never once been giddy over him.  I’ve never had butterflies.  The thought of kissing him makes me want to yack, and the feeling must be mutual because we avoid kissing at all costs.  It’s been easy to down play him for reasons like ‘my privacy’ or ‘he’s just a friend,’  and the reason it’s been so easy to portray him that way is I’ve never felt a smidgen more for him.

So, why the heck have you stayed with him for so long?  Oh, I don’t know.  #1 We have the same friends, and they have talked me out of it every time I confide that I don’t want to be with him.  I even tried to break up with him in the first month, and the backlash from our mutual friends about killed me.  (I’m chicken.)  I would not only be hurting him, but all of our friends.  #2 I also don’t want to be the bad guy and break up with a nice guy.  #3 It’s given me a safety blanket to not date for a year and a half while I got over the one guy I’ve ever really loved.  #4 Did I mention that I’m chicken; scared shitless to lose my friends or his friendship over this?  The list of excuses goes on and on.  So here I am a year and a half later, and I’ve never acknowledged his existence to my friends, family or really even to myself.  I see so little of him that he’s easy to ignore, and when you’re busy days slip to weeks, weeks to months, and then you find yourself chin deep in a pile of shit.

I don’t want him though, and he deserves someone who loves him completely.  I deserve that too.  He’s just not someone I can really be proud of; he buckles any time things get a little hard.  I buckle down when things get too hard.  That difference in personality matters, a lot.  And for whatever reason, I need to look at someone and deeply admire them in order to really love them.  I just don’t feel that way.  But how the heck do you break up with Mr. Nice Guy when you have only had 1 text message every month for months, and haven’t even heard each others voice in 3 months.  Blah.  I could really use some encouragement.  Totally overwhelmed by this.

Home Travels to You

“You can’t go home again.” I remember when I left for college, I wrote an essay arguing against that concept. The idea that home, your place of origin, would always be a sacred place that grounded me and offered explanations to my quirky existence. But in the last week, I have found I’m terribly homesick. I’m in the home I was born in. I’m surrounded by people who have known me longer than anyone in any other chapter of my life. But, I’ve been homesick.

I cried over text to a friend that I miss my home. I miss my friends, my bed, my comforter, my clothes, my routine, my commute to work in traffic, my kitchen with my food, and I ended by crying out, I even miss my soda stream! It’s obviously got nothing to do with a desperate cry for my soda stream (although I do love it). It’s got everything to do with missing my home. Essentially, every single purchase and decision I’ve made in the last decade as carved out this little niche in my life that I call my home. I love my candy apple red bathroom, and my navy blue living room walls. The art work that speaks to me. The sense of breathing space and joy that my little corner of the world brings me. And though modest by most standards, it oozes the essence of Bonnie. And I love it. And I miss it.

And just when I thought I was going to break down and cry over… well, whatever the things are that girls cry over, my soda stream perhaps…. My best friend arrived today. She is of my old life here, and of my current life in Durham too. She’s the bridge that has stuck by me even longer than my loyal lab Luke. We sat down and talked about possibly taking a girl’s vacation next spring… (Jamaica anyone?) We gripped about the men in our lives, and professed that they are still wonderful people regardless of it all. We had some normal, and some sense of home, even when I’m miles away from the physical home I so love.

So I guess you really can’t go home again, but sometimes it travels to you.

The Kiss

Some joy infuses.  It infuses despite the turmoil, the tired, or the sadness.

A few days ago, I was helping mom change dad’s bed before his breakfast.  My mom leaned down and kissed my dad good morning.  He piped up, “Wonderful.”  My mom replied, “What’s wonderful?”  To which my dad smiled and said, “Kiss.”

My mom went on and told him that he had been sick a few days, but that she kissed him every day.  He said, “I know.  Kisses are always appreciated.”

It was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever witnessed.  There are waves of tired and of uncontrollable grief, but in the mist of it all, it’s so important to remember that kisses and love are always appreciated.