Meet Philip Jones III, otherwise known as Fox. Oh wait…
It started with this man.
Well, “I” started with this man, Philip G. Jones—or with the help of my mom, he started me.
My father was named after my grandmother…Phyllis Muriel Porteous Jones. I can rarely mention her without boasting that she was one of the first few women members when Mensa began in London, England. Sounds cool though doesn’t it?
The fact of her ethereal ancestral intelligence helps soothe me when I’m feeling challenged by life’s questions. We all want to think we are smart, beautiful, clever, funny….When we’re not so sure, it helps to have notable relatives to defer to, in a vague hope that the theory of a wandering random gene is reasonable grounds to assume some smarts by association. I’m holding that thought.
My dad Phil Jones (the II) was proof enough of such logic. All Phyllis’s sons inherited her creative intellect and joie de vivre. My father was a witty, funny, charming, gregarious creative thinker who endeared himself to most every person that ever met him. He died this past August, just before his 80th birthday.
My son Phil Jones (the III) carries on that notion as living proof. He was a gifted kid who has grown into a talented, creative, ebullient, challenging, imperfect, spectacular young man, known to his friends as Fox. My dad would burst when he spoke of his only grandson…he was particularly impressed by his namesakes gift of language and technology. He’d raise a glass to him today if he could, no doubt with a sage and wise few words on the side.
I can say all this because I am his mother, and he turned 30 years of age today. I don’t have to be as careful of embarrassing him as when he was boy. As I grow older too, I’m entitled to (or perhaps just expect) somewhat more tolerance. It’s one of the benefits.
On March 8, 1982 at 3:22pm, after 16 hours of labour, I delivered a 9 pound, 2 ounce baby boy into the world in Kingston, Ontario. He had a lush, thick mane of auburn hair, smiling cheeks and sparkling eyes, and he changed my life.
So really…it’s my Birth Day.
I took over a week to name him…my lips testing various designations that were unsuited to a lifetime of calling, let alone hearing. Nothing fit. The moment I did suddenly know was perfect and clear and obvious…it was there all along. My parents had come to visit and meet their only grandchild. As I lay rapt in his newness I heard my mother open the farmhouse kitchen door, and call out to my Dad who was pitching hay to my lovely fat heifers. When I heard her British accented “Oh Phiiillliiip…” sail out across the barnyard, it sounded so solid and reverent and long lived, I looked down and knew the third wee Phil Jones was in my arms.
His hair was the sound of autumn leaves…so his middle name became Russell…though I didn’t muster the whimsy then to spell out the actual R-u-s-t-l-e. As it happened, the handle meant “red-haired and fox-like”. Little did I know that as a teen on his westward backpacking adventure, he’d by escorted by various foxes in his travels. There were so many sightings when he was amongst the group, that his friends took to calling him Fox.
I love him with all my heart.
And to love is to promise. Whether a friend, a partner, a parent or a child…the best relationships are actually a shift toward realized individual potential. Initial meetings with a new person simply offer a peek into what could be—we flash a picture of the best of who we are, and then as we move toward love, we commit to fulfilling that glimpsed potential. A mother and newborn are making that same promise: I am the elder, I will teach you the wonder of being a person.
I gauge—as parents do—my aspirations, my beliefs and my actions, against his experiences, still checking in with the reflection every so often to see if I am being the life example I had hoped to be as a new young mother. Still. It doesn’t go away with time.
I have fallen short in many areas, and exceeded my aim in others. If nothing else…my son will know by now that his mother is quite human. For three decades he has been the focus of my life purpose…interwoven with every interest I ever held and every direction I ever took, he is my measure.
I will continue to love him with all my heart for the next three decades too…I’ll be strong, struggle, blossom, be joyous, fall down and get up, and so will he. I’ll be his wings forever, and sprout Grandwings when it’s time.
Then when I’m 83, I will still say Happy Birth Day to myself, and an even bigger Happy Birthday to my baby…