April 26, 2013 driving around Carmel shopping at Garage Sales with my friend Lorraine. I don’t text & drive & I even try to ignore phone calls. Today it was just going crazy. When we got back into the car, I decided to check my phone. I had numerous messages telling me that George Jones had passed away. I barely finished reading the first message before the tears were filling my eyes. George Jones has been a legendary icon in the Shelley family since before I was born. I actually do remember being little & I remember hearing his music. I remember watching our family members get together and sing his songs. My Uncle Bob is the first person I think of when I think of George Jones. Growing up, we heard George Jones & AC/DC. I know what an odd combination but, it is the truth.
Whenever, I hear a song that the Possum sings, I am filled with any and every emotion you can possibly describe. It reminds me of so many things. I think of the old days, black & white, people sitting on their rocking chairs on the front porch & just enjoying life at an easy & peaceful pace. I think of my own Uncle George. He was a huge BLUEGRASS man & I don’t know how but, Mr. Jones was even able to reach that level for me. I don’t have a lot of memories of my Grandma & Grandpa Shelley but, I sure remember their love for George Jones as well. Grandpa & his medicine (his wine). As I was kindly reminded by my loving Aunt Tonya. To be exact it was “Wild Irish Rose Wine” & George has a song about it. Grandma with her stories of how her and Grandpa use to fight. Our family of what I remember growing up had a massive indescribable bond. When we were growing up, I remember us all living in the same neighborhood. Our first cousins felt more like our brothers & sisters. We always watched after one another & had the others back. We were a force to be reckoned with. If you messed with one of us, you got all of us. At our family gatherings, if alcohol was involved you could guarantee there would be a fight with one of our Aunt/Uncle. We as kids thought this was normal & how all families were. Growing up, we were simple minded, music loving, strong, under educated people with a drive to defend & protect our own. Those traits have changed but, the drive to defend & protect will never leave me.
I grew up with lots of hurt & anger as a child. The people who were suppose to love/guide/protect me were the ones who hurt me. I relied on music a lot of the time to keep my company & keep me sane. When I was grounded (back then we were really grounded). I remember putting in a cassette tape, taking a pen & a tablet. As the song played, I wrote the lyrics out. That is when I realized not only did music dig deep into my soul & touch something that no one else could. But, I realized just how much of a healthy release it was for me to write. I didn’t even have to write from my heart. Just the feeling I got when my hand touched the pen while the ink gracefully flowed from the casing onto the paper. I felt like there was no wrong in the world. While writing the lyrics, I found myself drifting & dreaming of what life would be like when I grew up. I thought about what I wanted out of life. The only desire I ever had was to become a mother. I had already found the person I loved & was willing to share my everything with him, and that would be creating life. I remember writing lyrics to all sorts of music. Air Supply, Journey, just nameless people & groups but, AC/DC & George Jones were the ones that meant something to the Shelley Family.
May 1, 2013 It is with honor that I decided to attend George Jones viewing services in Nashville TN. I was lucky enough to have my cousin Jamie Shelley & my Aunt Tonya Shelley Heaton along with her husband, Mike Heaton attend. We traveled to Nashville. Stayed at the Fiddlers Inn & were able to enjoy some of the downtown Nashville Wednesday evening when we arrived. Mike had worked a 12 hour night shift, left with no sleep. So, they called it early that PM. Jamie & I however; found ourselves looking for local entertainment. We walked around the parking area and located Music City. This was a small country local bar. We had an awesome time where we met many talented people whom actually have played with Lee Ann Womack, Merle Haggard, & LeAnn Rimes. They were just down to earth people doing what they enjoy. We finally called it a night, only 2 be awakened 2 hours later by Aunt Tonya cell phone. She had planned on getting their early. I disagreed with her, lying in bed moaning as I am not a morning person. She said there would be people in line already. I told her that they probably couldn’t even get in until 9 am when the doors opened. Luckily, I got up and we all took off skipping breakfast. We arrived at about 6:30am to find a line already. We ended up being about 545 of those already waiting in line. So, she was right & I was wrong.
We patiently waited in line watching others. We saw many celebrities walking by. Police came through advising us what to do when the doors open & advised us once again no camera or video was allowed & to take your cameras back to the vehicle. If you were caught with them out you would be escorted off the premises. We entered the Grand Ole Opry and found our seats. Seeing that the bottom section was reserved for family & friends. The stage was magnificently lit with flower arrangements on easels including butterflies of flowers from Dolly Parton. Below the stage was his casket covered in flowers. As his family & friends entered it was silent. The performers came on and told stories, singing songs & sharing with all of us. I felt myself that Brad Paisley spoke the best telling people of young age to learn about George Jones & know his music. I felt that Travis Tritt had the best performance aside from Alan Jackson of course singing “He stopped loving her today”. I knew it would be something to remember but, I had no idea that I would see that many performers under one roof celebrating the life of George Jones. I am so thankful to his family & to the music industry for allowing us as fans to be a part of it. As I write this, I can say that even Patty Loveless expressed her heart felt sympathy as the Shelley family did….he was a member of our family, or so we felt. He was a country song, he lived it, wrote it, sang it, survived it, & shared it. I have included my fb URL with the photos for you to view if you would like.
In my eyes, NO ONE will ever fill his shoes.
Below is MY favorite duet with George Jones & Lorrie Morgan