Larry LaRue: Grab some crazy socks and help remember Alicia Jones

Alicia Jones worked as many as three jobs at a time as a single mother of four, yet nothing she owned was exempt from being given away.

“As a child, I remember Mom taking food out of our freezer and giving it to people who didn’t have any,” daughter La-Iecia Bradley said. “If we were playing with our friends and it was time to eat, she invited our friends to eat with us.”

One of her three sons, Timothy Mack Jr., said it wasn’t just food his mother gave.

“It wasn’t just monetarily, it was her time she gave, and I think that’s why she got so much love at her funeral,” Mack said. “There were more than 500 people there. So many people she had touched.”

This weekend, Alicia’s family and friends will gather at the Baker Middle School track in Tacoma for what her sister, La-Sandra Jones-Owens, is calling “Operation Toasty Toes” – the first annual Light the Night memorial.

“My sister loved buying crazy novelty socks – the crazier the better – and she’d give them to my daughter, her daughter, her friends,” Jones-Owens said. “We’re asking people to find the craziest, most colorful socks in her memory, wear a pair and bring others to give to children in the community.”

Why hold the event at the track?

“In 2008, there were a lot of four-course meals eaten at our house,” Mack Jr. said, laughing. “Mom started walking to and from work, she slowly changed her lifestyle and got healthy and walked the track at Baker.”

Alicia Jones did not walk alone.

“My sister started a walking group two summers ago with women in her church,” Jones-Owens said. “They’d do light exercises and walk that track. She started with five people, and just before her death there were 35 people walking with her.”

Born in Tacoma, Alicia died a year ago Wednesday (Sept. 10) at age 46, five days after suffering a stroke in her home. Sons Anthony Jones and Mack Jr. were with her and got help immediately, but she suffered more strokes in the hospital.

Basketball was part of her sons’ lives, and she rarely missed a game.

“I got one pair of basketball shoes each year and had to wear them to school, too,” Mack said. “My brother Avery was the baby of the family, but he was a little more coordinated. I think he may have gotten more shoes.”

That would be Avery Bradley, whose star turn at Bellarmine Preparatory School eventually led him to the NBA, where he remains a Boston Celtic beginning the fifth year of his career.

“That boy came out of the womb playing basketball,” joked Jones-Owens. “Alicia worked hard to keep him in shoes and uniforms. Whatever any of her children aspired to, she pressed to help them get the opportunity to pursue it.”

She could also deliver life lessons.

“Mom taught taught me a lot about life – she was a doer, and so are all of us,” Mack Jr. said. “She always told us she wasn’t bailing anyone out of jail, and she never had to.

“She used to say, ‘Fight with your mind, not your fists – it’s easier to go back and apologize.’”

Some lessons weren’t just for her children.

“I’m 46 now, the age Alicia was when she died. It makes me more aware how precious life is,” Jones-Owens said. “I don’t have time to live someone else’s life – that’s what her death taught me.”

On Saturday, the informal celebration of Alicia’s life will include her pastor, Mark Miller, from Maranatha Family Worship Center, and memories from anyone who wants to share them.

Her younger brother, Luther Anderson, wept openly talking about his sister Tuesday.

“Her motto was ‘Too blessed to be stressed,’” Anderson said. “She’d sit you down, talk about the good things in your life. If things seemed bad, she’d say, ‘You can always come over here and be with family.’

“Alicia was always late for everything, and my dad used to tell her she was going to be late for her own funeral. The funny thing is, her funeral started two hours late. As a family, we just couldn’t get it all together that day.

“By the time we did get to the church, people were smiling, telling stories and laughing.”