Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ginger Sue Ward Glasco

How do you write about someone you loved who has passed on to a better place?  Although Ginger was my younger sister-in-law, she was already in place in the family when I started dating Gerald.  She and Garry were married when they were young, and they recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with her in a hospital bed in their living room.
Because she was so young, she was still full of life and ready for fun times—swimming in the creek, going to town for a barbecue, or just telling me wonderful stories of her childhood riding her bike with her girl friend up and down the Ozark highway hills in Missouri. I never travel those steep hills without thinking of her and feeling fear for her bravery riding there.
With us both being neophyte farm wives, we were learning how  to cook, to carry meals to the field, to can, and to sew.  (Gerald  still had his senior year to finish after getting out of the Air Force, but we lived in a small rental house on a rural road  between his parents’ and Garry and Ginger’s homes. That first summer after our wedding, Gerald was working on the farm there in the Mississippi bottoms, and the first meal I ever cooked, I transported  to the field where he was working. I thought that picnic beside the road was great fun, and it was a complete meal—not sandwiches.) 
Ginger and I were together a lot that summer and the next because there were home-made ice cream gatherings and family meals at Gerald’s parents.  Ginger would usually take Mom Glasco on her Saturday shopping trip, so besides frequent Sunday dinners, Mom would make us all welcome for impromptu cold cuts and goodies that evening.  I learned to enjoy good cheeses that she bought for Dad Glasco.   We enjoyed Garry and Ginger’s adorable little blond toddler Vicki Sue and Gerald’s little sister Ernestine, who I believe was nine that summer.
By that time, severe arthritis was bothering Mom Glasco. Yet despite that. she kept a full productive schedule and was there to help us and share their abundant  supply of garden produce. (I always wished our government would have sent Dad Glasco to a third world country to teach them how he grew more than adequate food. He freely gave food to many people besides his own family.)  There was a huge bin of potatoes for everyone in a large cellar below the backyard smoke house.   Ginger and I got free canning jars by cleaning out the unused cans of food in that cellar. Mom had conscientiously canned available vegetables that sometimes was more than families could eat and it had aged out a few year before.  I would feel bad thinking of all her work with the arthritic hands, but Ginger and I had fun working together and were grateful for the free jars.  
None of us had indoor plumbing that first summer. (Later when Gerald helped Garry put in their first bathroom by using part of the kitchen space in that farm house, they put up an angled wall that I thought incredibly attractive.) Ginger had once lived in a Cairo mansion with three bathrooms during her father’s heyday with grocery stores and other businesses. She most often lived in Poplar Bluff with her mother’s extended family nearby, and she and her sister and brother always remained close to them and each other.   One Sunday afternoon she told me of the places in the nation where she lived temporarily with various step mothers and siblings, which she would  then lose after she had grown fond of them.  I was depressed for a week just hearing about it, but she was strong and resilient loving everyone’s good points and forgiving weaknesses.  Her experiences made her very caring towards all children, and her strong sense of justice was highly developed.
She was Intelligent and curious and liked to interview people to become better acquainted. With my journalism studies behind me. I teased Ginger that she should have been a reporter  
In those pre-sonogram days, she had theories about how one could tell ahead of time whether a baby was a boy or girl.   But I don’t think that she and Garry had anticipated their twin sons who arrived six weeks before I had Katherine.  The twins were  a cause of great joy and celebration in the family.  Because little Vicki Sue had measles when the twins reached the five pound mark to come home from the hospital, Mom Glasco took care of Vicki while I went down to help out during the day with the twins.   So Ginger taught me how to care for newborns.  I have always been grateful that I took care of Kerry, and  because he was slightly smaller, that Ginger took care of baby Gary.  We did not know then how short a time she would be able to do that.
Six weeks later Katherine was born, and then six weeks after that the seemingly healthy twins were at Sunday School and worship with their parents.  They had barely gotten home when they realized baby Gary was in distress, and they rushed him to the local hospital, who examined him and sent them home.  Soon they knew the hospital had made a terrible mistake and they rushed him back. For some unexplained  reason,  employees had put away a piece of equipment that was needed without repairing it.  Although I do not think it would have made any difference, it certainly did not make our family feel any better.  Baby Gary died that day, and the terrible pain of grief  was woven into the fabric of our lives. (Years later at approximately the same age, baby Brandon—Vicki Sue’s first baby—also died, and we had the worst Christmas of our lives.)  So I rejoice that Ginger is now able to see those baby boys again.  I have no idea whether people who die young finish growing up in heaven or if they remain forever young, but I know we are promised it will all be good.  I also like to think that Ginger feels how much she is loved here on earth and  knows how much good she did  while here.
Her grandchildren, who called her Mimmie, are all grown up now and soon the great grandchildren will be. But I remember the first time she and Garry babysat with Shelley, their first grandchild.  Our door bell rang and there all alone on our step was this beautiful baby in her car seat while her grandparents hid around the corner to view our excitement and admiration.  But they were quick to reclaim her after they enjoyed our surprise.
Although Ginger had health problems, she never let it stop her from living fully.  As a child, she had been in a car wreck and hearing loss resulted. Later when she went to the famous hearing doctor in Memphis, she found out that a tiny piece of her inside ear had flown out.  Her story ended up in a medical journal when the doctor wrote about it. 
It will soon be 13 years since Ginger’s devastating stroke that took away her short term memory. Shortly before that, she had brought me a lovely music box for a house warming gift, and I smilingly scolded her since we had said no gifts.  But I loved it, and when she had the stroke just a couple weeks later, I cherished it   Earlier she had given me a music box on our anniversary, and I will play these and remember the good times.
We said goodbye to Ginger way back on July 20 when family gathered at the hospital in Cape. She looked so terrible with that mask hurting her face that I did not like to look at her there in intensive care.. We were expecting the worst when the doctor’s advice was followed and the mask removed.  Instead she breathed on her own and went home to the farm in a couple of days, where with the help of Hospice and the continued devoted help of her loving neighbor Alice, who had helped Garry  care for her all these years since the 2001 stroke.  Kerry and Vicki worked together so well taking turns staying nights in the living room with their mother so that Garry could get a good night’s sleep.
The hospital bed is gone now, and the granddaughters have cleaned the stored couch until it looks new. Ginger would like the way her living room looks again.  Friends have flooded Garry’s kitchen with food for all the friends and loved ones who continue to gather there to console him.   The visitation with its crowds is over.  Yesterday’s funeral would have pleased her with a granddaughter who somehow got there from school in Los Angeles to share her reminisces of what Mimmie had meant to her.  The handsome grandson in his dress Marine uniform who managed to come from Washington, DC, and all the local  grandchildren and great grandchildren would have made her so proud.  She would have rejoiced  at Mindy and Joe’s news that they just found out that Princeton will be having the baby brother or sister he has begged for.  And she would have loved seeing her beautiful sister Lillian, who had recently lost both her husband and their brother, looking so strong surrounded by her loving sons.  She would have loved seeing all the nieces and nephews and hearing from the ones who couldn’t come.    
Ginger loved the holidays and sometimes gifted us with crafted ornaments, which I will hang on our tree again this year but with tears in my eyes. 


Jodi said...

So sorry for your family's loss. Ginger sounds like a wonderful, much loved person.

Sue Glasco said...

Thank you, Jodi.