While others were enjoying a lingering Independence Day holiday on Sunday, I was thinking about Ginny. It would have been her 60th birthday. Ginny and Mike were among the first friends my wife and I made after we moved to Brainerd, Minnesota, where I was a newly-installed pastor serving my first church. Later, we moved back to Texas, to Haskell, and about a year after that, they followed so Michael could go to work at the Paint Creek WTU power station.
Ginny was pretty and vivacious, and a smile that could absolutely light up a room. She had an amazing soprano voice and could play the guitar, and she and my wife would sing together for hours, their voices naturally harmonizing. They knew the entire John Denver catalog of songs, and covered lots of other artists as well - my personal favorite was always, "The Sweetest Gift," as performed by Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.
And they frequently sang together in church.
She had lots of other talents, as well. Ginny loved kids - ALL kids! Ethnicity, income, color, whatever, didn't matter to her. For several years, she ran an in-home day care center, and helped raise a whole generation of kids in the Haskell area - our son Drew, included.
She loved Christmas, and enjoyed singing in community musicals. And she loved art - she taught art classes at the Paint Creek school, and left an indelible mark on dozens, if not hundreds, of students.
Over the years, our friendship grew, changed, matured. We had our kids, and she and Mike had theirs - first two daughters, then later, a son. She taught Sunday School at church, and also became the song leader, and I swear, I never grew tired of hearing her & Kathy sing together.
That all changed one year just before Christmas. Ginny had had a bad headache all that day, then that evening (at a Christmas party, of all things) she had a stroke - a bad one. She was just in her 40s. Ginny worked really hard, and managed to regain a lot of what she had lost. But then in 2005, she had another stroke, from which she could not recover. She passed away on December 16, 2005.
Why am I telling you all this? I don't know. For one thing, I guess, just to share Ginny's story: she was a remarkable woman, a dear friend, and I wish you could have known her. Beyond that, her story is a reminder that life is short, so cherish every moment, and make it count. Tell the people that you love how you feel. Smile. Sing. Laugh.
Ginny would tell you, that really IS "The Sweetest Gift."