ENDINGS and BEGINNINGS
Lydia Permelia (Miller) Jones passed peacefully from this world the morning of October 13, 2017, at Wheat State Manor, Whitewater, Kansas, where she had resided since March 1, 2013. She was born May 4, 1916, at Aetna, Kansas, in her beloved Gypsum Hills. The youngest of nine children of William and Mary (Danner) Miller, she was named after each of her grandmothers – Lydia Miller and Permelia Danner. Family roots developed early and ran deep for Lydia.
She was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers (Ray and Ralph – half brothers, and Emory and Allen) and four sisters (Elsie, Nina, Zelma, and Mary Marjorie); also by her husband of 67 years (Harry Walter Jones), two sons (Ernest Walter and Sidney Lowell), one grandson (Timothy Shane Gossett), and one great granddaughter (Tamara Rochelle Rogers).
Lydia is survived by daughters-in-law Tangee Jones of Covington, Washington, and Vonnie Jones of Bellingham, Washington; daughters Hazel and husband Jim of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, and Christine and husband Bob of Benton, Kansas. In addition, 12 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren, 12 great-great grandchildren, and 7 great-great-great grandchildren remain, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Lydia enjoyed her childhood in rural Barber County, Kansas, where taking care of an assortment of farm animals, learning lessons in the old one-room schoolhouse, and weekly attendance at Union Chapel Church were integral parts of life. She was forever impressed by the massive F5 tornado of 1927 that took their house, cattle, and new truck while she and her two sisters huddled with their parents in the storm cave. When the storm had passed, they emerged to find most everything gone or mangled beyond repair, except a library table - the family Bible still laid open on it with her mother’s reading glasses, apparently unruffled by the noise and turmoil that had passed all around. Grandma embodied that calm in the midst of the storm throughout the rest of her life – she was a refuge for many of us.
After her completion of 8th grade, the family moved to Louisiana to pursue farming opportunities just before the Dust Bowl years began consuming the Midwest. Lydia recounted with joy how she was baptized by the Reverend Herman Moses in Whiskey Chitter Creek in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana, upon confession of her faith in Jesus Christ at age fifteen.
She graduated valedictorian from Sugartown High School in Sugartown, Louisiana. As was the custom of the time, she married soon after high school.
On December 3, 1933, she and Harry Jones were united in a private ceremony in a home in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. To their surprise, most of the congregation of Shiloh Baptist Church, where Lydia played piano Sunday mornings, attended to support the young couple. To this union, Ernest Walter, Hazel Ruth, Sidney Lowell, and Joy Christine were born in the years following.
Lydia honored her southern Louisiana roots as well as her red hills Kansas ones. She was always ready to lend her capable hands to any worthwhile job that was presented. She helped clear the land and build the family’s log cabin in Louisiana, all the while picking cotton, sewing clothing, and cooking to support the family during lean times. Later, as a professional cook, she would prepare wild game patrons brought to her in the restaurant – birds, squirrels, crawdads, and even a prairie dog. She had a knack for making food taste good, for making something bountiful out of whatever was at hand, and for making the best out of every day.
She must have canned tons of garden vegetables, stirred gallons of jelly from wild Kansas sand plums, and cracked sacks and sacks of black walnuts gathered from riverside trees. She was constantly working at a steady pace from well before the sun rose to long after dark. Her door was always open and her table always set for YOU. Giving and sharing whatever she had were as natural as breathing for her.
Holiday family gatherings would spill out into the yard and city park near her Medicine Lodge home as relatives were drawn to her welcoming spirit. In her later years, she crocheted afghans and baby blankets to present to each new descendant.
Proverbs 31:25-31 (NLT) seems to describe the woman of noble character that Lydia was:
25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”
Perhaps Lydia’s most enduring quality was loving and accepting others, in spite of their faults. She often saw where a little extra love and care was needed, extending her hand to help. Family was important to her, and she missed interacting with us all in her final days, as her eyesight kept her from writing letters, and then her phone conversations dwindled, too. She kept her mind active, though, often singing the sacred hymns that were woven tightly into her soul.
She had a concern that her loved ones would know Jesus as Saviour and follow her to heaven. Her quiet trust in the God who brings us through the storms of life was an example for all of us to follow.
She would want us to remember what John 3:16-18 (NLT) says:
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”