In our childhood, Ginny and I shared a bedroom with twin beds that served as spring boards, perfect for jumping and hiding places for our toys and other stuff when we got orders to "clean our room" from a very perturbed father. At night, after we were supposed to have lights out, we would whisper back and forth telling secrets or just engaging in some forbidden after dark chit chat. We had a large shelf that contained all of our dolls which were many since we inherited all of the dolls that belonged to our older sister, Charlotte. Our closet contained not only our clothes but also a vast assortment of school papers, toys that wouldn't fit under our beds and anything else we could cram in that small space.
|Marcia and Ginny with dolls 1956, Jackson, MS|
|Ginny and Marcia Easter 1961, Jackson, MS|
Not to say that we didn't have some wonderful times together and more laughter than you could ever imagine. In addition to the sturdy genes, Ginny also inherited a wonderful sense of humor and was quite intelligent, very much the way our father was both highly intelligent and very funny, too. At an early age, she showed a real flair for art and took lessons during elementary school. She was what some people call "crafty". While going through her things since her death, her daughter found no less than FIVE glue guns in Ginny's stash of craft supplies. She loved her glue guns and found new uses that even the inventor of the glue gun never thought of.
One year for Christmas we decided to make ornaments out of felt, pom pom balls and glitter. We festooned my home with all kinds of door knockers, signs of the season and a giant stocking that we stuffed with some of Brian's toys and put out on my front porch. When we had left over felt, glue, glitter and pom poms, Ginny decided we needed to use up these materials and so we cut short strips of felt and glued the pom poms on the felt, alternating the color of pom pom we used. As we sat there looking at our "creations", I casually asked her what we had made. She said (in all seriousness), "Why don't we call them our Christmas worms?" So we placed them on the branches of the Christmas tree and I still have them today and still call them my Christmas worms. It works for me now, just like it worked for her back in 1976 when we made them.
|Christmas Worms on my tree|
|Ginny with Catherine Spring 1992|
So her health continued to get worse, she had cardiac by-pass surgery and her diabetes still raged on doing damage to her heart and body. Intellectually, I knew she was not doing well, but my emotional side just didn't want to deal with the inevitable and didn't. In January 2003, shortly before her birthday, she was hospitalized and was very ill. I came to see her and visited her in ICU and had before me the truth of the matter. She was clearly in a dire situation. But the mind can convince you of things that aren't true. So it was with this situation. I still could not accept that she was not going to be a part of my life much longer. I don't think she admitted that either. We were blindly and doggedly going to play the game until we couldn't any more.
|Marcia and Ginny Christmas 1991, shortly before Catherine's birth|
The call from her husband to tell us what had happened came later that afternoon. When I heard what had happened, I literally fell to my knees and staggered to the kitchen counter for support. I don't ever recall having that kind of response to bad news in my life except for that time. Even when my father died many years earlier, I don't think I felt this way. Hearing that Ginny was dead, I literally felt like something had blown a hole in my heart and left a huge gaping wound. I was weak and thought I would faint. All the way to Jackson for the wake and funeral, I had a strange emptiness in me that is very hard to describe. But that is the best word I can use to explain how I felt. A big, black void and a feeling of complete numbness took over my body.
Maybe it was because I had also lost my older sister, Charlotte, two years before that and I was feeling the sinking, lonely feeling of being the only child of three that was still live. Maybe it was because of all those years we shared a room and later such closeness due to the fact that we lived next door to each other. I am not sure why I felt that big, black hole inside. All I know is that is what I felt at the time.
Today, nine years later, I can say that the hole is much smaller now and has shrunk to a much more manageable size. I have not carried the burden of her death around with me like a cape about my shoulders. I like to think that I have grown and learned from the experience and with time and patience the incredible lonely feelings and sadness have receded to their proper proportion. I know for sure that we said the things that needed to be said when we were both above the ground to hear them. Standing at the grave uttering "I love you" is not a good substitute for saying those words out loud, with conviction while you are both alive to hear and acknowledge the sentiment. I don't have to wonder if she knew that I loved her because she did.
So on this day of her birth, so many Januaries ago, I can't help but think of Ginny and the life we shared for so many years. I still laugh at some of the funny things she said--- when we were kids---as young adults and yes, even on her sick bed, just days before her death. I have some of her art work that we found in envelopes and boxes after she died. Her amazing daughter is a young woman of twenty now and has some of Ginny's best qualities to remind us of her. And yet, I do still miss her and sometimes my heart aches to spend just one more day with her. Right now is one of those times.
I will cry today and re-grieve the untimely and premature death of my dear little sister, Ginny. But I will also celebrate the times we spent together and be thankful and grateful for all of those good times that will, no doubt, carry me through the difficult times of remembering what might have been.
Thoughtful and happy trails to you~~~