This is Your Life

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, July 4, 2024

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My mother, Jobie Ponder, has lived at Huntcliff Summit, an independent living facility in Atlanta for the past 12 years.  This week she was featured in a monthly program at Huntcliff called “This is Your Life”.  It is loosely based on the television series of the same name that was shown on NBC from 1952 until 1961.

In the version held last week, my mom was seated in front of a packed audience and was interviewed by Ronie Mintz.  Ronie’s father was a long time resident of Huntcliff and while he was alive he hosted a current events program.   For a number of years Ronie has volunteered her time to interview and prepare the guests.  What a great service in honor of her father.

All of Jobie’s children and their spouses were sitting on the front row.  She was a bit nervous as the show was about to begin, but after the second question I leaned over to my wife and said “She’s got this”.   She never missed a beat.

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Responding to questions from the moderator, Jobie told of her childhood in Cottonwood, Alabama.  She was a tomboy and thrived in the rural, small town.  She recalled her pony, named “Peaches”.

We all got to hear how she met my dad, and of their honeymoon on the way back to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he was initially stationed during the Korean War.   Of particular interest to us kids was hearing about Dad having maneuvers that for some reason were cancelled after they were already in the field.   Returning to their apartment, Dad found Mother passed out due to the unvented gas heater in the army apartments.   Had those maneuvers not been cancelled and my mother not rescued by my dad, then I would not be writing this article today.

Jobie told of traveling by bus to San Francisco to meet my dad when he was about to be deployed to Korea.  He received his orders the day after she arrived, but they always treasured those two days together.

Jobie shared about the peanut company that my parent’s owned, their life raising kids and later traveling the world.  She enjoyed their time on their trawler, the “Why Knot”, especially when they were cruising from island to island in the Caribbean.  Her eyes lit up as she recalled various milestones during the 48 years they were married before he passed away.

Never one to slow down if she could help it, she moved back to Bay Point and built a house big enough to house all her children and grandchildren should they all visit at the same time.  She continued playing golf, tennis and enjoyed a robust social life.

A dozen years ago, Jobie made her way to Huntcliff.  She cultivated and nourished a new set of friends, took pictures of each resident and gathered them into books making it easier for newcomers to learn who was who.   With my sister’s help, she wore elaborate costumes each Halloween.

Huntcliff Summit has been a blessing for my mother.  She has enjoyed many friendships and, in more ways than one, they have become very much a part of her family.

This episode of “This Is Your Life” was very special to me, my siblings and all our spouses.  Not many people get to sit in an audience and hear their 92 year old mother talk about her life from early childhood.   Some of the stories have been shared for generations.  However, a few we heard for the first time.  Amazing!

  At the end of the program, the applause was warm and genuine.  As I applauded along with the crowd, I briefly wished my children and grandchildren had been there to hear the stories.  Then I realized my wife, Mary Lou, had recorded the entire program.

Jobie Ponder’s life, as seen through her own eyes, is there for all to see.  A treasure now and for generations to come.