Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Virginia (Ginny) Rose Gill Manly

This is a tribute to a marvelous woman. My aunt Ginny passed away in the early morning hours of Dec. 29th. She had fought a battle with aggressive cancer, and while her body lost the battle, her spirit won. In the months of her illness, she never lost her spirit or her good will.

Ginny was a very special lady. She is more than my aunt. She's in many ways my second mother. She was definitely a mother to my sister. You see, after our parents died, we both went to live with another aunt and uncle. They were wonderful people, but each of us, my sister and I, developed bonds with other relatives. I saw that my uncle David, my father's brother, was so much like my father. I boldly wrote to him and asked if I could live with him. My sister Alison had already fallen in love with Ginny, and she made it known that was who she wanted to live with. We split up to live in different cities, but we both made the right decision.

Later, when I was married, I came to the DFW area largely because Ginny was here. She had that kind of appeal. She was always a grandmother to my children, and we treated each other like mother and son. I'm glad for that.

For her memorial, four of us; Ginny's son Tom, my sister Alison, my cousin Tim, and I, wrote short memories of her. None of us trusted ourselves to read them, but we were able to write and let Rusty Peterman, the attending minister read them for us. I'm reproducing them below. The four different views say things I could not say on my own.

First, from Tom, Ginny's son:
Coming up with something to say about Mom is difficult. I could tell you stories about her taking me to the ER about a dozen times, or about being grounded for attempting stunts that would lead to an ER visit. How she would do ANYTHING to help someone, or how she could read your mind and say just the right thing to make you feel better.

Most of you know this already. You know her because she is an open book. A loving, fun, faithful book. She cares for everyone she meets and you know your important to her by the way she absorbs every word you say, every gesture you make.

She was a great Mom. I always knew where I stood with her. I could rely on her and trust her. She would support me even when she was unhappy with me.

And happy she was. Ever the smile and laugh, she would find humor in anything, even if you didn't yet find it funny. Even when she was hurting from the cancer, she would laugh at my bad puns and jokes. My humor definitely came from her. Though I consider it a blessing from her, some don't quite see it that way for some reason.

She cared for everyone she met. She made you feel important to her with the way she hung on every word you said. Little kids would seek her out because of her smile, laughter and attention. No one ever distrusted her.

In the last days, I've had a lot of time to spend with Jim. He shares a strong love with my Mom. Repeatedly, he said how kind and forgiving she was and how she was always supportive of him. My sympathies pour out to him as I know he is loosing so much.

I grew up going to Church, learning the Bible and singing. I always knew I lived in a faithful home. That foundation is still firmly under my feet. When I strayed, I always knew I could return home to the foundation she built with Gods guidance. She is a true believer, ever faithful, true follower of God. I know she is now with God, but I selfishly wish she could still be healthy and whole with us.

Next, from my sister Alison:
Most of you know that Ginny was my Aunt, the youngest sister of my Father. You also know that my parents were killed in a car accident when I was very young. When Ginny became my guardian, my life changed in many ways. I had to adjust to being in a new family, and in every way she made that adjustment easier for me. She told me many times that I was the daughter she always wished for. It was not long before I called her "Mother" as she was completely in my heart as my mother. Every year on December 5 we would celebrate the day we became mother and daughter. She would tell me "Happy Anniversary" and we would relate little stories to each other about how happy we were to have each other.

No one in the world has been or ever will be just like Mother. She always listened...always cared and even when she did not agree with what I was doing in my life, she was always there for me. She did not judge, but counseled. She was the most faithful person I have ever known, both in her spiritual life and in her faith in the people she loved.

When I was asked to give one word that described her, the very first word that came in to my mind was "Mother." She gave me so much, and I will selfishly miss her terribly. The last thing I told her was "Thank you for being my mother."

Now from her nephew, Tim:
I remember Ginny from my earliest days. She was a teenager when I was born, and she was frequently my babysitter. When I was grade school age, I thought she was the coolest aunt anybody could have. She was hilariously funny, and she drove cool cars - well, except for the red Mercury. That was definitely a mom-mobile.

When I was in college, Ginny and I discovered that we were really kindred spirits. She once told me, "I love your sense of humor. It's just like mine - warped!" It was about that time that the two of us began a long running contest to see who could give the other the meanest - and funniest - birthday cards. I'm not sure who won; it doesn't matter because we both enjoyed the game.

Ginny was the queen of the one-liners - unfortunately, they were often a day late. Once when she was working as a spotter for a bike race at the ranch, a rider broke down right in front of her and yelled, "Hey lady, I've got problems. Can I get a screwdriver?" She later told me, "Just as he got the bike restarted, it occurred to me to answer, 'No - but could I fix you a Bloody Mary' "

Most of all, what I remember Ginny for what happened the day I arrived home from Germany and the Army. She introduced me to a girl in a blue sweater vest. Five months later, I married her. Thanks, Ginny - Jan & I are forever indebted to you.

Finally, my words:
The other day when we talked to Rusty about Ginny’s memorial, he asked us to think of single word descriptions of Ginny. For me, the first word that came to was “laughter.” Ginny was always ready to laugh. For a cut-up and clown like me, that was a very welcome quality. She was quick to laugh at a joke, a story, or herself. I really have a hard time remembering Ginny when she wasn’t smiling. She was always glad to see me, and especially glad to see my children. My kids always called her Nana, at her insistence.

Alison always called her “mother,” for good reason. Truly, Ginny was a mother to me as well, although I never called her that. When Shan and I moved here in 1977, Ginny welcomed us into her home and into her heart. Truthfully, she was a big factor in our decision to move here. We immediately began to come to Richland Hills because she was here. She became a mother to both Shan and myself, and she was definitely a grandmother to our kids.

Ginny was also a kindred soul. Shan and I (and Brian, Duncan, and Rachel) have always been avid readers, or if you prefer, book addicts. Ginny was just as addicted as we were. Shan told me early in our marriage that she knew Ginny was a kindred spirit when she learned that Ginny also read the shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes in the bathroom. Ginny and Shan even had much the same taste in reading, and passed books back and forth so much at church that I felt like a Bookmobile.

Ginny had a sweet, sweet spirit. She put up with the kids (and me) surprising and scaring her at every opportunity, and even encouraged it. She loved to bring joy to children, and she brought joy to me through my entire life. I suspect at this moment she is laughing with Jesus. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Farewell, Ginny. We miss you, but we will see you again.

1 comment:

  1. And she sewed a dynamite Mavericks "Starter" jacket for me when we couldn't afford one. Great woman.