Graduation from Albany State College, 1952

Ask anybody who knew my mother well and you’ll get stories of her positive attitude, her love of people and how she was a leader; in the Gaines family she was born into, and the Jones family she married into. Oh…and they may mention how she liked giving you a loving maul with her fist in the fleshy part of your arm…just to show she cared!

Irene Patricia Gaines Jones was born on April 4, 1926 and died on April 26, 1992 of respiratory distress syndrome within a week of getting sick. Twenty years ago today. Much too soon. Only four years after she retired from 39 years teaching sixth grade and serving as part-time librarian in Worth County, Georgia.

She was known by many names: Ms. Irene, Ms. Jones, Rene (by close family members) Jones (by her co-workers) and of course: Ma. She had one sister and two brothers, all raised by my stern and loving grandmother, Arlena Hinson, without the help of my mother’s father, Rob Gaines who—from what I know—was really never even talked about. How I wish we had.

So now, many times April 26th comes and goes without me noticing and I know that’s a good thing, because it means that I am in the process of life and that’s where my mother spent her time. Her favorite quote, told to us countless  times growing up: “Can killed Can’t and they got in behind Couldn’t and haven’t seen him since.”

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My parents Irene & Silas, around 1956, Vada, Georgia. I love this picture.

My mother holding me in Grandmama's yard: Vada, Ga. 1956

That's my sister Betty on the left, I'm hugging the pillow for some reason. 325 Hazard Drive, Circa 1961

Teaching in the 60s, with her dear friend, Hazel Alexander.

Spring, 1981, Albany, GA, with her azaleas. Gladious were also a favorite.

Her birthday, 1991. We gave her the Braves jacket. She LOVED herself some baseball. My dear friend Flora Devine in background.

Silas and Irene ~ dedication personified.