In general, Kay Jones loves life. You can tell it just by looking at her: white haired and always smiling, she has an ethereal glow about her. She greets each new day with wonder and enthusiasm and gratitude--all except for one day of the year.
Kay doesn’t care for Mother’s Day. She reportedly has a hard time going to church and listening to talks memorializing mothers who are always patient and kind, neat and clean, mothers who never raise their voices but do raise model children.
It’s the one day of the year when she reflects on parts of her own life and wishes it might have been a little different.
As a newborn, Kay was adopted by a childless couple, Calvin and Elsie Van Leuven, and taken to their dairy farm in Emmet, ID.
Ten years later her parents were blessed with a biological son, George. Kay was delighted with this new baby brother and loved caring for him.
About this same time she read the book, Cheaper by the Dozen, and decided that when she grew up, she also wanted a dozen children, as perfect as the six boys and six girls in the book.
As a matter of fact, when she grew up, Kay attended BYU, where in her junior year she met Robert Ashton Jones, a Blanding boy, on a blind date. He fell in love with the petite. vivacious brunette from Idaho and shared her dream of a large family. They soon married and over the next 17 years they welcomed as many babies into their home as Heavenly Father would send them.
In the end, Kay didn’t get her hoped for dozen, though in a way it could be said she got four and a half dozen: four sons and six daughters.
And after she got her own brood, she discovered that despite her best efforts, her family would not be as perfect as the family in Cheaper by the Dozen. Or, as her second daughter put it, “She’s had trials and struggles as a mom, from losing Lydia (her ninth child) at six months old, to having some of us do things we had been taught not to do and did anyway.”
However, no matter how discouraged Kay may have felt at times, she never gave up on any of her children. When their choices broke her heart, she only loved them all the more.
And, more importantly, perhaps, she never gave up on herself; she continually did her best. often under trying circumstances.
An accomplished pianist, from the beginning Kay filled her home with music. She often gathered her children around the piano to sing songs. She set the example for service by playing for funerals and parties and family gatherings. She supplemented the family income by teaching piano lessons.
She also planted a large garden every summer, to help feed her large family, and she cultivated flowers to “nourish their souls.” The children helped pull weeds, work the rich soil and, after the harvest, can the fruit and vegetables.
Bob and Kay’s home--built new for them--was modest in size. Their builder, Scott Hurst, remarked that it had cost less per square foot than any other home he had ever built. Per square foot, it undoubtedly got utilized more than any other home in town, also. A social worker by profession, Bob and Kay opened their home to a large number of foster children through the years. Some came just until a more permanent home could be found; others stayed for months.
One time, they received three foster children just days before Christmas. Kay always made her children a new set of pajamas for Christmas; this year she quickly sewed three more pair for their unexpected guests.
Another Christmas, the Jones children came up the stairs to see whether Santa Claus had come yet and found their path blocked by wall-to-wall missionaries; six elders were stretched out in sleeping bags on the front room floor.
Kay’s home was always open to her children’s friends, many of whom called her Mom. She chided them for ringing the doorbell, instructing them to just walk in. The Jones family seldom ever had a family event that didn’t include a few extra guests. Kay epitomized the saying, “Treat your company like family and your family like company.”
One of her greatest gifts was instilling a love for reading in her children, giving them an appreciation for all genres of literature, including the scriptures. She also taught them compassion as she cared for her husband, who suffered ill health and died relatively young from the effects of diabetes.
Though their family didn’t have much in the way of worldly possessions, Kay taught her children that a smile or hug, or just being there for a grieving friend is priceless.
As she served a church mission as an older sister in Brazil, before she learned Portuguese, she touched many lives by speaking the universal language of a smile and service. She has always been very caring and seems drawn to people who need a friend.
In this same spirit of giving, Kay has always been a faithful writer, sending letters and cards to family, friends, missionaries, and others. She learned to use a computer as soon as they came out and over the years has designed and produced greeting cards and fliers, and printed invitations for people.
She knows Photoshop and makes digital scrapbooks and writes family histories. One of her most recent projects was retyping a mimeographed copy of Albert R. Lyman’s 50 Year History of Blanding and making it available, at cost.
Bob and Kay’s ten children, in order, are Robin, Heather, Alma, Leah, Richard, Aaron, Gary, Ellen, Lydia, and Lynette. (Lydia died in an automobile accident before Lynette was born.) Kay currently has 28 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.
Unfortunately, the way Kay Jones feels about Mother’s Day isn’t uncommon among women. This is probably because of something Patricia Holland once pointed out, “Those who try hardest will be most aware of falling short.”
Whatever Kay perceives her own shortcomings to be, she has a loving and forgiving heart and she has devoted her life to her children--and their children, and their children. They have always been her first priority and that, in itself, is reason enough to name her Mother of the Year.