Feisty G….the letters on the vanity plate of her car fit her perfectly. Ginny…short for Virginia. Trust me, when she used the long version of her name, it was a signal to back-off and say nothing. Not that she would allow you to get a word in edgewise.
She never hesitated to let someone know what she thought of them, good, bad or indifferent. Hell, she let me have it through the 40-plus years that we were family and I cannot say that her remarks at any given time weren’t well-deserved, not that I ever passed-up an opportunity to let her have it in return.
A little family background here: my husband’s mother and sister married two brothers; the unions produced three boys who were more like brothers than cousins. Somehow, my late mother-in-law envisioned that same closeness between Ginny, my sister-in-law and myself when we came into the family, always hoping that we would become like three sisters. Sadly, that was never to be even though we did manage to share some happy moments together through the years.
Personality conflicts, misunderstandings and just plain stupidity drove a wedge into what should have been a close family relationship. Ginny tried to always be Switzerland in between two warring sides and I know how much it pained her to not see everyone get along. Often she would step out of the neutral zone and speak her mind, not that it did much to chip-away at the walls which so many years of familial indifference created.
She could be a capatosta, to an extreme, when she wanted her own way. I recall a stand-off where Ginny went to her husband’s job and sat down, refusing to move until he agreed to let her have a new washing machine. No exaggeration here folks. Just ask my husband. Really.
No one had a bigger heart and was loved more than she was by everyone especially her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Ginny was the Pied Piper of relatives when it came to kids. If a parent said no, Ginny quickly overruled that action with lavish permissiveness, creating an unbreakable bond between herself and that child of the moment. She was a cousin by marriage yet a most precious Aunt to my children and later to my grandchildren.
Yes, the words which I’m laboring to put down are in the past tense. At 6:30 this very night, our collective hearts started breaking with the ringing of phones. Right now, I’m struggling to recall special memories and I feel someone looking over my shoulder, whispering, you’re such a bitch!
I know she’s there and I’m angry at her for leaving all of us, for not walking, no running, away from what ended up destroying her. I want to scream out…Damn you, Ginny! Damn you for allowing cigarettes to become more important than those of us who loved you so, who wanted you to live for many years to come. You left this huge void, this empty space in our lives that will never be filled. You are one more person in my life who left without saying good-bye. Damn you.
And, I hear her yelling back at me, in her raspy voice, scolding me for breaking a promise I made a few months ago when I last saw her.. You will be the one to take care of me, I know that; you will be there when I need you, she said and… I quickly agreed. Somehow, foolishly, I thought she would be here forever, refusing to think she was so very ill. I failed her.
Now, I sit here and wish for that step back in time, a chance to be crushed by one more of her best hugs, a chance to say…I love you, we all love you and…I’m sorry! I sense that she knows all this for I can see her smile through my tears as if she’s saying…it’s okay. At least that’s what I’d like to think as I watch her join all those who have been waiting.
I say good-bye but not before yelling out…Hey Gin, Shirley Temple just came through the Pearly Gates. Order Chinese, invite her to sit down, and get her autograph. Be nice!
She turns and gives me that million dollar grin. One last time.