Jones celebrates 100th birthday

By | February 7, 2019 8:03 am

Ocia Bell Ford Jones enjoys every day of her life and still lives by herself at age 100.

By Rachel Auberger

“It’s the best birthday I had [in] all my life,” is how Ocia Jones described her day as she celebrated her 100th birthday. “I had a party on Saturday with cake and lots of presents and about 75 people, and, today, my insurance company came and brought me more cake and sang to me.”

Born Ocia Bell Ford, on Feb. 5, 1919, in Baxter, Tennessee, Jones has had a great life. Raised by her grandparents after her mother died during childbirth, she said she grew up poor, but she always had plenty to eat, so she didn’t mind.

Some of her favorite childhood memories include helping her grandparents with the garden in their small yard and playing at the river with friends. She laughed as she reminisced about how she and her friends would collect water in buckets and throw it on each other.

At 21, she married the love of her life, Bailey Jones. Together they moved around to places like Ohio, Nashville, Alabama, and eventually Sparta.

“If we got the notion to go somewhere, we would just go,” Jones said about her early years as a wife. “We would just move to where we wanted to go.”

Jones said she always worked. The old shirt factory and the hospital were among jobs she had, but her favorite job was working at the nursing home. She enjoyed going and making the residents smile and feel important because someone was paying attention to them.

Jones herself has not moved to a nursing home and chooses to live on her own with the help of home health nurses. When asked if she was in good health, she said, “I feel good. For an old woman, I feel real good. I feel like I’m about 16.”

She said that her doctor tells her “you’re a tough lady, you’ll get over it” whenever she does have to make a visit to his office.

Jones has lived through a lot of wars and seen a lot of presidents preside over this country, of which she says Franklin Delano Roosevelt was her favorite, because “he was good to poor people.”

A lot of other things have changed in the last century as well. Jones said she can remember going to the river and running and playing on the steamboats that brought the groceries.

“I guess you don’t do that anymore,” she said.

Her favorite change though: television. Jones says she spends her days doing “mostly nothing” except singing, praying, and watching TV. She claims she doesn’t need all the other technology.

“I’m just old-timey,” she said. “That’s just the way I am.”

And she loves her family. The mother of seven – three boys and four girls – enjoyed playing with her children as they grew up but said there is nothing like grandchildren.

“Oh, I love little children,” Jones said when talking about her 15 grandchildren and now her 30 great-grandchildren. “They’re the closest thing to heaven that there is.”

When asked about her secret to her long and happy life, she replied, “I ain’t got no secret. People keep asking me that, but there’s no secret. Just do what you do.”

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