To Lynetta

(Lynetta Putnam Jones was the mother of Jim Jones. She died in Jonestown in December 1977, one of eight community residents to die before the tragedy of November 1978.)

Photo Courtesy of California Historical Society

I’m not directly blaming you for what Jim did in the end, but I also think you didn’t give him the best start in life. You put your demons in him somehow, with your combination of praise and neglect. It is no wonder he got messed up and began to seek attention elsewhere, which lead to obsessive extremes. You convinced him that he would be a great man, then later – when he had achieved something with the Temple – you said it’s no achievement to be followed by sheep.

He could have abandoned you like you abandoned him. I sometimes wish he had. I don’t think you could love him the way he wanted to be loved, but that isn’t necessarily your fault.

I consider Mrs Kennedy to be his real mother.

After reading comments about Jim’s demeanour when you were around, it makes me feel that he feared you. Others seemed to feel that way too.

Jim didn’t really badmouth you like he did his father, but his comments about your emotional and verbal abuse were revealing.

As late as Jonestown you were laughing at him, specifically at his drug addiction and the fact he was beyond help. I can’t understand that.

When you died, I think he felt freedom deep down.

In a dream about you, I felt your presence as dark and uncomfortable, the total opposite of Jim’s presence whenever he appears in my dreams. You still had a sarcastic sneer towards him. I hoped you would be more understanding now you have passed on. I think you are in many ways, but not necessarily with Jim. I can only imagine your vibes towards him when you were alive.

Since writing this, I had another dream about you which surprised me. In this one, you appeared younger and you were sitting at a table with Jim’s father. He was also younger. You didn’t see me as you sat back in your chair smoking a cigarette, talking casually, neutral.

I hope you found your own peace out there, but that doesn’t mean you will ever experience your son again, and I think the both of you are satisfied with that.

(Jolene McDonald is an admin of the Facebook group Jim Jones Cult Leader created in February 2018, and the creator of a blog – the Jim Jones Information Blog – to share some of the informative posts from the group. 

Jolene’s other stories in this edition of the jonestown report are Homage to Myrtle Kennedy, and Me and Mr. Jones. Her collected works on this site are here. She may be reached at