Every child is a miracle, but to parents who struggled to have a child and finally did, Mother’s Day is a reminder to take nothing for granted. Wilson Lones, son of Ebeth and Jason Lones, reminds his parents of that blessing every day.
His ninth birthday was a few weeks ago, so he knows a thing or two, and his confidence in his mother’s abilities is particularly strong. On a fishing trip with family friend Cliff Clark, Wilson caught a weakfish. When asked if he’d like it fileted so he could take it home he replied, “Naw, my mom watches a lot of Food Network.
We’ll have fish and chips tonight.”
Ebeth recalled her surprise when Tish Clark and Wilson came up the driveway with the fish in a bag. Ebeth asked Tish if she’d mind storing it in her freezer until she figured out what to do with it.
“It’s still there, Mommy,” said Wilson recently.
Ebeth was born Elizabeth Wilson and grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia in a large family. Her grandfather and father were both coal miners.
Jason grew up in Canton, Ohio, and remembers one of his first jobs in a large regional bakery tending cream sticks in an industrial fryer. “The device was supposed to flip them over, and it was accurate about 90 percent of the time. My job was to carry a dowel and flip the ones the device missed. Both my parents had worked in the same factory.”
Jason and Ebeth met at Ohio Valley College in 1994. It was Ebeth who first spotted Jason, playing basketball with a bunch of guys in the gym. She soon learned he was somebody else’s boyfriend. But with only about 300 students on campus, Ebeth and Jason became best friends. Later they transferred to Harding, a Christian college in Searcy, Arkansas, where they met two young women from Shelter Island, Paige Clark and Keturah Green.
In 1995 a close friend of Ebeth’s at Harding was abducted and murdered by strangers. Ebeth, Paige and Keturah searched for her before the crime was discovered. Their harrowing experience formed a bond that has remained strong for 23 years.
The tragedy was also a catalyst for Jason and Ebeth’s friendship, which deepened into a new kind of love. “For both of us life has come quick and heavy at times from different experiences,” Jason said.
“We were all reeling from that situation and didn’t think we could stay at Harding,” said Ebeth. “We didn’t feel safe.”
Jason, Ebeth, and Paige left Harding for Canton, where they worked at various jobs until Paige suggested they all go to Shelter Island for the summer, where there would be plenty of work.
Jason worked for South Ferry as a summer hire and Ebeth at a deli on the South Fork. Jason and Ebeth went back to Ohio Valley College in the fall and returned to the Island for a second summer in 1997, during which they married.
“We came back and finished the summer,” Jason said. “Shelter Island was our first married home.”
The couple spent the next six years in Ohio where Jason worked as a paramedic and Ebeth finally completed her BA in English at Kent State. “I had my diploma framed,” she said. “I had friends tell me, ‘We know people who have been in school as long as you have. They’re called doctors.’”
In 2004, they moved to Denver where Jason got a degree in biology from Metro State and began working in data management for medical research. Ebeth worked as a clinical writer.
Ever since they married, they hoped for a child but had fertility issues. When Wilson was born in 2009, Ebeth described it as “the culmination of years of prayer and perseverance and patience and love.”
Jason and Ebeth became leaders in their church in Colorado. Jason was deacon of missions, leading groups of adults on one-week trips at least once a year.
The missions were often to Honduras, where the group set up field clinics to give medical care and medication, as well as clothing and school supplies to people in underserved communities. Once Wilson was born he began to join Jason and Ebeth on the trips.
With their church they ran a hospitality house in a previously empty parsonage, temporary housing for the family of a patient getting long-term care at one of the Denver hospitals.“It was such a blessing in our lives,” Ebeth said. “We lived on the top floor and made a space on the bottom floor where they could stay for free. We would organize meals, get groceries or cook for them. We befriended all of them.”
In 2014 they decided they would like to make a commitment to become missionaries and work in Honduras for a three-to-five-year period. They embarked on a fundraising campaign, and counting on support from their church, worked for two years to raise the necessary financial support. “We thought it was working out, but the home church went in another direction,” said Ebeth. “We handled it with grace and love, but we needed a fresh start.”
Jason had been approached about a job in data management at Duke University Medical School, and had a sister living in North Carolina, so after 12 years in Colorado, the Lones relocated to Apex, North Carolina in 2016.
The two summers Jason and Ebeth spent working for “summer money” on the Island were followed by four trips back, including visits for Paige and Nick Morehead’s wedding in 2007 and their baby shower. After the summers Jason and Ebeth had spent on the Island, these trips “felt like we were coming home,” said Jason.
Nick and Paige invited them to visit last spring and began in earnest to persuade the Lones to move to the Island. “They talked about what it was like to raise a family here, to be in a class with 14 other kids, to have the advantage of public school,” Jason said. “In North Carolina, Wilson’s grade had multiple classes and every class had 30 kids in it. Being around them gave me the guts to ask Duke to let me work from here. It’s still a little expensive, and we have to be mindful of that.”
Jason also works part-time on South Ferry and Ebeth works part-time at the Shelter Island Historical Society, does freelance copy editing and runs their home.
This Mother’s Day, their first on the Island, Ebeth, Wilson and Jason plan to head to church in the morning and then brunch at the Ram’s Head, joining their friends in a Mother’s Day tradition. And a warning to the Ram’s Head kitchen – Wilson may try to order fish and chips.
What do you always have with you?
Ebeth: Lip balm
Wilson: My blanket
Favorite place on Shelter Island?
E: Crescent Beach
W: Whales Tale, especially the hole where your ball drops into a tube.
Jason: South Ferry after closing time.
When was the last time you were elated?
E: We recently got good news about our friend’s health.
What exasperates you?
W: When someone calls out the answer in class and I know it.
W+A: ‘Series of Unfortunate Events,’ by Lemony Snicket
E: Maria’s guacamole
Favorite person, living or dead, who is not a member of the family?
E: Martin Luther King
W: Tate Foard, my friend
J: Cliff Clark
Most respected elected official?
W: George Washington, because after he served, he went back to his family.