By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – For Al and Ingamae (Inky) Jones, life together is precious and sweet, their playful bantering and obvious affection a testimony to the blessing they find in one another. The pair, 86 and 84 respectively, met at the Southborough Senior Center, 9 Cordaville Rd., in the fall of 2001. Inky, a retired gym teacher, was an active member of the Senior Center, taking fitness classes, tai chi, line dancing and even belly dancing. When she heard that a singing group would be started at the center, she immediately signed up. Al, who continues to participate in the Tuesday cribbage group, had heard about the Southborough Senior Singers as well and promptly joined. While the Southborough Senior Singers made beautiful music together so, too, did Al and Inky.
Al and Inky went on their first date Jan. 27, 2002. By the end of February, they decided that they would marry. On August 25, 2002, Al and Inky became man and wife; it was his third trip down the aisle and her second. From the outside looking in, many would agree that they both saved the best for last.
Both Al and Inky came to the marriage with very different life stories, but shared the common thread of faith, which knit them together. Another commonality was that of service. While Al served the country overseas, Inky served her community here at home.
Al grew up on a 12-acre farm in Foxborough, learning to milk cows and tend a vegetable garden. He recalls learning that “if you put a tub full of sand in the basement and fill it with potatoes, beets or carrots which were dug up from the garden in the fall, the vegetables will stay fresh all winter.”
On his 17th birthday, Al signed up for the Marines, quitting school to serve. He was a Marine in WWII for 3-1/2 years, released when the war was over. When he returned to the states, he retained a job working on the farm at Foxborough State Hospital. After working there for two years, Al was hired as a guard at the maximum security correctional facility Walpole State Prison, which later changed its name to Massachusetts Correctional Institution (MCI) Cedar Junction at Walpole. He worked Block 10, doubly secure for the most dangerous inmates. In the notorious Block 10, it was not uncommon for inmates to make demands on the guards and cause a ruckus. After working eight years at Walpole, he was transferred to Framingham in 1979. There, Al was promoted to the position of captain. He remained in the position until he retired five years later.
Inky and her first husband, Richard Grimm, raised five children (four sons and a daughter) on Latisquama Road in Southborough. It was there, too, that she cared for 16 young boys who would arrive to stay the night and end up remaining for weeks, months or years. Her “strays,” as she calls them, were boys who needed a refuge from alcoholic parents or perhaps had had a run in with the police and were not welcome home. An orphan himself, Inky's late husband made sure that his home would always be open to anyone who needed help – a notion Inky embraced.
For all who lived under Inky's (Ma Grimm as the “strays” called her) roof, respect was paramount. The children, whether biological or not, had to respect everyone in the house. That was the Golden Rule in their home.
“Whether or not they liked them had nothing to do with it, they had to show respect,” she said.
Inky said that she would not “hide” the boys who came to stay with her. She would only let them stay if their parents knew where they were.
While faith was an important part of Inky's life, she did not insist that the children attend church. Rather, Inky tried to teach the children faith through what she allowed and disallowed in the house – no drugs or alcohol were permitted. It was her belief that actions speak louder than words.
“I could say something over and over again, but if my actions are opposite of that,” she said, “what have I taught them?”
When her husband was laid off from his job, Inky stopped taking in strays and went to work full time. Richard passed away in 1999.
Both Al and Inky credit the Southborough Senior Center for keeping them involved in the community. Through the many programs offered there, they have met many friends and learned that, as Inky said, “you get out of life what you put into it.”
Al and Inky have found joy in each other's company as well as shared hobbies such as bird watching and singing (particularly old music from the mid 1900's). Most importantly, though, they say the key to happiness in their marriage lies in the common faith that they share. For a couple who found love and companionship late in life, the desire to give back has not waned. Their home has been a safe haven for various young men from their church, Greater Grace Christian Fellowship in Marlborough, who have found their home to be one of refuge.
Inky and Al believe that the key to happiness later in life is to “keep an open mind, stay involved in people's lives, and follow the Bible.”
To find out more about the Southborough Senior Center, visit http://www.southboroughseniors.com/