It was approximately 9:30 am, 1/27/2018, my phone rang, it was Soca Jones. Before I answered, I thought to myself, morning is usually Soca’s night, what is he up to now? I answered the phone, “Mr. Gobels, how things going?” He asked. I smiled, thinking, wait for the sale pitch. “I good Soca, what’s going on,” I asked, shortening the build up of his sales pitch. I guessed he sensed my no-nonsense mood. “Ok. I just saw the new Executive of Diaspora Committee, and you are not on it.” He stated. “No, Soca I resigned from Diaspora Committee.” I answered. “Ok cool. This is why I called you. Bossman listen I want you to join Vincyday committee.” Then he made his famous Soca man sales pitch, of why I should join Vincyday committee.
I didn’t commit at the time, I told him I would think about it. Truth be told, I wasn’t going to join Vincyday committee, I needed time to process Maxwell’s death. A few days later he called, informing me that we (Vincyday) had a meeting. Without thinking, I said I would be there, he said ok and hung up the phone. I tried calling him back but he didn’t answer his phone. I shook my head and smiled, that darn Soca tricked me into joining Vincyday committee. As I entered the door of my first Vincyday meeting, Junior was sitting at the head of the table, he slowly raised his head with that unique Soca Jones cunning smile, “Welcome Mr. Gobels,” he said, trying hard not to burst out laughing.
I smiled, looked at him, thinking this freaking boy always pulling one on me. I took my seat next to him and rolled up my sleeves. Soca smiled and said “we have real work to do here bossman. ” I nodded my head in agreement, “but I would expect you to match my work ethic and I would hold you accountable at all times.” I said with a stern face. I held him to our agreed commitment during our time in Vincyday committee.
For those of us who knew Soca well, we all have our Soca Jones stories, moments, laughter, jokes, etc, but lost in Junior’s mosaic life, is the heart and compassion of patriotic Vincentian. It was Soca who stormed the mic and challenged Vincentian djs patriotism. “Why are we playing Trinidadian music more than Vincentian music in a Vincy party? Boss we have some of the best Soca artists in the world, but leave it up to you Vincy djs the world wouldn’t know that.”
Ever the hyped-man he would sing along to old-school Vincy soca while educating the audience of the year the tune was released, often to the annoyance of the crowd. “Yo too darn mic struck,” someone shouted. Soca just smiled and continued singing. It was Soca Jones that informed and demanded help for the Inness child who needed medical help. His greatest legacy is Vincyday USA. It was Soca’s dogged determination that led to the establishment of Vincyday USA. There were other who worked along side him in establishing Vincyday USA.
He found a partner in Counsel General SelmonWalters and the rest is history.
At approximately 9:40am on 3/15/2020 I got a call from my good friend Tammy. “Gobels, you have to go and see Soca. He is sick.” She informed me. “I know he has diabetes, he told me.” I replied. “No Gobels, he is in the hospital, with cancer, stage 4.” Her voice trailed off. I could hear her sobbing. Immediately, after hanging up the phone I called Poski. “Get dressed in 20 minutes we have to make a run.” “Give me 30 minutes,” he replied. “Cool” I agreed. My t-shirt felt wet, I touched my face, the tears quickly progressed from droplets to a stream.
I had no time to investigate causality. I must see Soca, this is the perfect opportunity for that dogged Soca determination to be displayed.
As Poski and I navigated our way to the hospital, we joked about Soca. We parked adjacent to the hospital entrance. We walked up to the information desk. Asked for Junior Jones. No one here by that name the receptionist told us. “Fine, try Ulric Jones,” I told the receptionist. He checked his database, “no one here by that name” he replied. Poski looked at me and lauged.
I said to Poski, “Knowing Soca, he might be in here under the alias Mary Williams.” Poski laughed, “boy, I wouldn’t be surprised.” We laughed, only Soca can make us forget time and place. I called Tiba, “we at the hospital there is no Junior, Ulric, Mary Williams, Jones, etc, here.” I joked. Tiba laughed, “Its Brentford Jones,” he said. “What the hell! Brentford?” I exclaimed “Yes Brentford is his name,” Tiba said, with a chuckle. I turned to the receptionist to relay the name Tiba had told me. “7th floor, room 13.” He said.
As we exited the elevator, I saw Soca’s sister Sharon pacing back and forth in the hallway. I greeted her with hug. I could not longer ignore the reality and seriousness of this moment.
Poski and I entered the room, Sharon accompanied us, I drew back the curtain.
The bed was empty, Tresha was sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed, Job was standing next to her. “He is in the bathroom,” Sharon said. There was a vacant chair next to Tresha, I sat and looked at the empty bed. I felt like I was at a Broadway show, I sat with mixed emotions. I thought Soca was going to put on the greatest magic show.
He entered the room, fixed himself on the bed, he turned to me and with that Soca smile, he said, “Mr.Gobels what’s going on bossman?” Before I could answer, he turned to Poski, “Poski Burke what’s going on?” “I dey,” Poski answered. Then he turned his attention back to me, “the talk on the street is bad, so I am hoping you tell me it’s just rumors, so how we looking?” I asked. Forever the showman, he fixed his sheet, drank from his cup, adjusted his pillow, checked his phone and surveyed his audience, then replied, “it ain’t looking good bossman.” Like the gifted orator that he was, he explained his prognosis. As he talked about his condition, my mind drifted to my friend Maxwell and his fight with this similar form of cancer. The contrast between Soca and Maxwell was reflective of their personalities. In Maxwell’s eyes I saw submission and acceptance of his mortality but in Soca’s eyes I saw defiance. Believable defiance, Soca is going to defy death. Death would have to wait. In 20 years time, Soca will be in a basement or around a domino table, somewhere, selling good snake-oil remedies to cure cancer. I would be one of his witnesses, testifying about his great escape from death.
I was hoping Soca would defy death, but one could only dream so much, even defiance is subject to time and causality. Mortality is finite, our legacy would be subject to the scrutiny of time and history. He whose legacy has survived the scrutiny of time would become an immortal. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Brentford Junior Ulric Jones wanted us to be the best Vincentian we could be. His charity started at home, he wore his Vincentian Patriotism all the time. Vincyday USA is his legacy, a time when we celebrate everything Vincy. I hope his patriotism is contagious to all who knew him. Sleep on my friend, you did great. From Glenroy (Gobels) Phillips.