Family – A Matter of Record

Over the last far too many years friends have known how my family has has fallen apart, mostly for reasons I will never understand despite begging for answers. With the current virus situation and me being at great risk as a senior, seventy-one years old, a diabetic and a smoker, I could go at any time, so I thought it best to do a post about my family, mess that it is. I’ve maintained this personal website for some fifteen years but I have no clue if anyone in my family ever reads anything or cares. As stupid a`s it may be I’d like to think that if something happens to me then someone in my family will want to know about me. When my granddaughter, Mackenzie, first contacted me years ago she was most upset that her parents hadn’t told her about me. She said that the decision to contact me was hers, not theirs. That being said shortly after we were planning to meet when she came to a friend’s wedding in Puerto Villarta she suddenly joined the family members who had cut me off and never spoke to me again.

So, let me start with my birth family. My Dad was Donald Lloyd Jones, nicknamed Jimmy to everyone except his own family, originally from Innisfail, Alberta. My mother was Alice Joyce Jones, known as Joy, maiden name Hardy from Toronto, Ontario. My Dad’s family all lived out West so I knew very little about them. I did meet my grandfather one time, but I don’t even remember his name. My grandmother on my Dad’s side died of diabetes at a very young age, something like fifty-six. My grandmother on my mother’s side was Jenny Hardy and she lived with us for several years on the farm in Streetsville. She died at eighty-six. My mother’s sister, Ann, live in Georgetown, Ontario so she spent a fair bit of time with both my birth family and later with my own. Sad to say I don’t remember when we lost her but it was shortly after she was planning to come out West to visit my mother. After I moved out west to be with my mother I did meet some of my Dad’s five brothers. My Uncle Earl lived in Kelowna so we saw him a fair amount. I also met his brother Roy who spent the winters with my folks in Yuma but maybe saw him once in Westbank. He died in Yuma and my father got his Honda Accord and the fifth wheel they lived in which Roy owned. My mother had two brothers, Uncle Cliff and Uncle Frank. Uncle Cliff was a real card and always fun to be with. He played the piano and always put on a show. His daughter, Joan, is the only member of my family who still talks to me. Every Christmas the family met at Uncle Frank and Aunt Daisy’s place in Toronto. That would have been when I was in my early teens. Christmas was also the time that I learned all the cousins I had, most of which I barely knew. Frank and Daisy had three kids, Bobby, Donna and I forget the older boy’s name. Probably like many families there were all kinds of kids who weren’t actually blood related.

I had one sister, Wendy Jean, and one brother, Kevin James. My sister was seven years younger than me and my brother was younger than her, although I can’t remember how much younger. I’ve covered what happened with both of them in another detailed post so I won’t repeat it all here. Let’s just say that I have nothing to do with either one of them for very good reason. My sister was married to Ron Kupser and they had two kids, Krystal and Ryan. Krystal was a real sweetheart and we always got along. The last time I had any contact with her was after her mother killed my mother and I couldn’t even go to her memorial because I wanted to kill my sister for what she had done. Krystal hasn’t made any attempt to contact me so I guess she’s never forgiven me. Ryan was a real piece of work and drove his parents nuts. He had a party at their house when they were away and destroyed their kitchen. He ran up a five thousand dollar phone bill talking to some girl in Japan. I’m pretty sure that he spent some time in jail as well. He did stop by when I was renovated the place in Westbank. It was not great because he spent the time telling me that his mother thought that my caring for my mother for a year and a half was nothing. She soon learned exactly how tough it was when she pulled her out of the long term care place it had taken me eight months to get her in. She couldn’t handle it.

So on to my family. I met who was to become my wife, Janice. Her father was Ray, a gentle and nice man who unfortunately suffered a heart attack and died at only fifty years old. We always got along. Her mother was Marion who was a pretty quiet soul herself. Janice had two brothers, Gord and Douglas. Gord married someone whose name I’ve forgotten and they had a daughter. Doug married Karen and they had two kids, I believe, one a son named Raymond in honor of his grandfather and a daughter, Candice. Gord had a daughter whose name I believe was Michelle. Gord had a massive brain aneurysm at something like forty-six years old and died. Doug apparently had major drug problems later in life and died. Ray and Marion looked after both our kids when they were babies up until they went to preschool. My fondest memory of my father-in-law was after our daughter, Heather, had had her surgery to repair her cleft lip at Sick Kid’s Hospital in Toronto, and she fell at their place. He called me in an obvious panic and when I got there he had Heather in his arms. As soon as she saw me she broke out in a big smile which basically meant that her face separated. Off we went back down to Sick Kid’s for yet another operation. My mother-in-law was basically involved in my ultimate decision to leave my marriage. First she had offered to pay for my son, Chris, to go on a European hockey tournament trip that he had been invited to join. After he had lied to me and not gone to school in Toronto for three weeks I told him the trip was off. I still remember being on the phone on the lower level of our then townhouse arguing with my ex and my mother-in-law about him not going. I had to put my foot down and he didn’t go. Then to my considerable shock my ex said she and her mother were going to a hospital in Toronto to have an abortion. She hadn’t even told me she was pregnant, let alone asked me about whether to have the child or not. I was furious and knew that my marriage was over. To this day, especially with the things I am going to tell you, I have always wondered if this was the kid who would be close to me.

My son, Christopher Michael, was born March 27th, 1970 on a very stormy night. From the start, at about age five, he showed real hockey talent. For the next ten years he played on rep teams all seasons. He also played in a summer league for several years. At a tournament in Thornhill I was approached by a scout who first told me that it was illegal for him to talk to Chris because he was too young to be drafted. He did say that based on what he had seen he was going to offer Chris a five year scholarship at MIT, something back then was probably worth about fifty grand. When Chris was ready to play Junior B we took him t the tryouts for the Streetsville Derbys where there were more than three hundred kids trying out. Having watched my son for ten years I knew that he played best when they had to come from behind. I spoke to the coach, gave him my assurances that Chris would not sign with anyone else, but said not to sign Chris until the last night of tryouts. Despite agreeing to that Chris came out of the dressing room that first night, thrilled that he had been signed. I knew it was the beginning of the end. Not two weeks later he told me he wanted to quit paying hockey. He had lost his drive. Many years later he asked me why I “let” him quit hockey? He obviously gave up the scholarship and was making minimum wage at a local warehouse, for which he blamed me. I said I couldn’t put the skates on. He had to maintain a seventy-five percent average to qualify for York University which for him would have been a stretch. He was never an A student. Without that burning desire to excel playing hockey he would never have made the NHL, something he was more than qualified to do. I reminded him the thousands of dollars we had spent travelling around the country for ten years for his hockey and that he was supposed to repay us when he signed his NHL contract. For whatever reason we fell apart for many years until he contacted me in London, Ontario saying he was going to be working in London and wanted to meet. That turned into a total disaster and we only spent forty-five minutes together at a Tim’s. Shortly after when he had agreed for me to meet his three daughters, my grandkids, there was nothing for three months. I called him but someone else answered his phone saying they had bought it off him. Then he blocked me on Facebook and we haven’t talked since.

My daughter, Heather Tyrell, was the golden child. She made me so proud. She had no interest in hockey but she did play soccer and she was quite good at it. Compared to hockey I was not really much of a soccer fan but I did enjoy watching her play. I have so many fond memories of her. We had the best father daughter relationship. Unlike her brother I had never had a moment of trouble disciplining her, other than when she spent the night at her friend’s place and got drunk. She ended up in hospital with alcohol poisoning and learned her lesson. We drove home in silence and when she aske if I was going to say anything to her I asked if I needed to? She said no. I did slap her face once when she called her mother a bitch but that was as far as discipline went with her. When she and Chris came out west for three weeks if was the best time of our lives. Sadly, when they were ready to leave she broke my heart by telling me to stay out west. She said she had never seen me happier. She knew my marriage was over. She would come and visit me again. It broke my heart that my twelve year old daughter wanted to be apart from me. I cried for three hours. When my mother was diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma and given six months to live and I moved out west to be with her it was the hardest moment of my life when I left Heather. Back then I did believe that she would come out to visit me though. Had I known that she would never talk to me again for what has now been twenty-seven years, I don’t know if I would have moved. To this day I don’t know why she cut me off. Over these many years many friends, often girlfriends, tried to get her to talk to me again, but they all failed. It breaks my heart every single day.

Although technically not “family” I do have another blood related son. Andrew. His mother, Pat, and I got involved when I was in the house band at the old Club Bluenote in Toronto. Over the years I’ve tried to reconnect with him but he has chosen not to be involved with me.

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