[lit-ideas] Mercedes Paul

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 06 Jul 2009 19:52:08 -0700

Today, my mother, had she lived, would have been 109. She was born in the same year as Gilbert Ryle, but outlived him. (They never met.)

She was born in Moscow, Idaho, and was named Ethel Mercedes Jones. She disliked the name Ethel, and soon dispensed with it, becoming thereafter Mercedes Jones, and later Mercedes Jones Paul. She taught high school English, and journalism, for many years, and it was mostly from her that I learned to care about words and what can be done with them. For a long time after she died, in August 1984, I found myself reaching for the telephone to call her whenever I got stuck on an arcane (or just an ordinary) point of grammar.

She read aloud to me every night, even after I could easily have read what was being read to me on my own. Often, she read to both me and my older cousin, Bill. She would collapse with laughter whenever she got to the part of Winnie-the-Pooh, in which Pooh gets his head stuck in the honey jar.

Bill died last month, in Hailey, Idaho. I am now the oldest Jones cousin.

Robert Paul

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