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TITLE: Keeping up with the Jones's
By Kenny Blade

Keeping Up With the Jones’s

“All God’s children got they Jones, son.”

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the expression. I was scuffling with my older brother just beyond the front porch in the flower garden. The two of us were knotted together tighter than a piece hemp rope as we recklessly spun our way toward our Uncle Sal’s ’69 Buick. Just as we were about to crash head-long into the side of my Uncle’s pride and joy, his calloused fingers deftly enveloped our necks. One moment we were rolling across a beautiful bed of Aunt Tally’s Begonia’s and the next instant we found ourselves suspended mid-air in what felt like the mother of all death grips.

Uncle Sal stared silently at us for what seemed an eternity. He really didn’t have to say anything. As I peered past the torn, dirty sleeve of my brother’s best Sunday shirt, the sight of my Aunt Tally’s garden made my stomach churn. I knew he wasn’t going to kill us. Too merciful. My Uncle’s girth gave him instant access to a leather belt that I am positive could have been used to repel down the side of Mt. Everest. We would never be fortunate enough to escape with a slap on the backside. No sir, my brother and I were well beyond a simple spanking. The punishment for destroying my Aunt’s flowers surely fell somewhere between cutting the front lawn with a butter knife after dark and shoveling horse manure out of the barn with a soup spoon.

Then, with no warning, my uncle opened his hands. We crashed to the ground like two half empty potato sacks. We braced ourselves for the coming lecture that surely preceded our punishment. Thing is, the lecture never came. In a voice that registered barely above a whisper, Uncle Sal spoke. “Boys, I’m think it’s time we had a talk.” With that, he rested against the Buick. With a deep sigh, he raked his fingers through his beard, and continued. “ I want to know what got you two so riled up. It seems like all you ever do anymore is fight! Don’t get me wrong guys, I’m all for a little wrestling. It’s part of bein’ a boy. Problem is, when you go to makin’ your Aunt cry, I gotta put my foot down. Now tell me, what was it?”

My brother leapt to his feet like a frog that landed on a hot rock! “He stole my slingshot!” “I didn’t neither, you lying sack of gopher spit!”. With that, we forgot all about the trouble we were in and before you could blink, we were rolling across the ground again. “STOP THIS FOOLISHNESS!”. barreled my Uncle with a voice that I’m sure cracked every egg in the henhouse! My brother and I froze like the dog’s waterbowl in the dead of winter. “ I can’t help it Uncle Sal”, I screeched. “ He makes me so mad I can’t control myself!” “Makes you mad, does he?”, my uncle said with a grin. “Yes, sir. Sometimes I think I’m gonna bust if I don’t whack him upside the head!” My brother spit on his fist as though that brought some type of magical punching power to it and barked, “ I make you mad? The only one’s gonna get whacked upside the head is you, little brother!” Uncle Sal stepped between us, so as to squelch any further skirmishes and placed his arm around both our shoulders. “Boys, I’ll tell you something your Grandaddy told me. He used to say, “All God’s children got they Jones.” My brother and I gazed at Uncle Sal with a look that made it clear we had no idea what he was talking about. He continued, “What your granddaddy meant boys was everybody struggles with something. For me, it’s always been patience. Your Aunt’ll tell you I have never been one for sitting around waiting. Seems to me like you two boys have a little jones of your own. Why, you two get mad at the drop of a hat! I can’t imagine half killing each other over a dumb old slingshot.” “It shoots real far”, my brother mumbled under his breath. “I’m sure it does, son, but that still isn’t a reason to beat your brother senseless. Your Aunt told me once that the Good book says a man isn’t supposed to let the sun go down on his anger. I expect that’s pretty good advice.” Maybe so, I thought, but I’d have been willing just about then to move to Alaska. They say there that it’s daylight for six months in a row! Uncle Sal brushed the dirt off my shoulder and gave us both a pat on the back. “ You boys run in, and apologize to your Aunt. I expect you’ll be doing chores most of tomorrow. Be prepared for some high quality fussing, but I expect she’ll get over things soon enough.” As we walked slowly to the front porch steps, my brother reached out and placed his slingshot in the palm of my hand. “ After she’s done with our punishment, you can play with it awhile. I don’t expect it’ll hurt nothing.” I gripped it tight and reached back to shove the slingshot into my pocket.

We were very fortunate to have Uncle Sal and Aunt Tilly in our lives. The two of them were the only “church-going” people my brother and I knew growing up. They never missed taking us on Sunday to the First Church, and over the years we were the recipients of more than a few impromptu “sermons” out of Aunt Tilly’s Good book. I’ve thought about that day in the front yard a thousand times. I ‘d like to be able to say that I got control of it that day, but anger has been my “jones” from time to time no matter how much I try to keep it in check. Still, I’ve reached a point where more times than not, the sun doesn’t go down on my anger. The most satisfying thing of all is that thanks to the two of them, I don’t have to face the struggle alone. They introduced me to Christ. Now I know I can let HIM keep up with the Jones’s.
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