Sue Martin Glasco

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Sue Glasco was born in the southern part of Illinois in 1933 during the Great Depression in a region called “The Land Between the Rivers.” (Ohio River on the east and Mississippi on the west.) Her sister Rosemary was eight and her brother Jim was five. The family lived in a big two-story rental house at the top of a short street sloping gently down to the elementary school where her father was both principal and eighth grade teacher. Later they rented a house even closer to the school where her first memories surface. By the time Sue started first grade, her parents had bought a house across the street from the school. School lasted for only eight months, and there were no summer salaries for teachers. So Sue’s family leased their home for the summer and moved to her father’s home place in a nearby county. Her parents made that annual move an adventure in country living, and Sue grew up appreciating farm life. An exception was the summer after first grade, when the family moved to Colorado so her father could study at the University of Colorado. He brought her books from the university library. At the farm, books were ordered from the state library system and were delivered by the mail carrier. When she was eight, World War II began. A teacher at a one-room rural school was drafted. Sue’s mother was asked to take his place. In some communities at that time, it was considered unseemly for a married woman to teach. Now it was a patriotic duty to teach. (There were married women and married women with children at her dad’s school, however.) Sue’s mother picked up students with their 1937 Ford car, supervised the student who built the fire in the stove, kept the building clean, and taught all eight grades. Sue loved visiting her mother’s school when her school was closed, but she hated being alone in the house until her mother and siblings returned each afternoon. News of the war and its heart ache filled their lives. The school yard was heaped with enormous hills of collected junk metal and old rubber tires as community scrap drives took place. Students competed in paper drives and brought in tightly-wound balls of tin foil from gum and other wrappers. Kids thought they were helping win the war when they helped with the drives and when they bought savings stamps and participated in savings bond drives. After the war, the rural school consolidated with the town school, and Sue’s mother also taught across the street. Few teachers had their degrees, and her parents were always taking night classes—sometimes locally and sometimes driving with a car load of teachers to what is now Southern Illinois University Carbondale. After she started high school, Sue’s parents stopped moving to the farm, but she still enjoyed going with her dad on Saturday when she could. Her sister went off to Carbondale to school after working locally for a year after high school. Her brother joined the army after high school and returned to SIU on the GI Bill. Most local students went to college at Carbondale, where one could work oneself through school. This was where Sue’s grandfather, parents, aunts and uncles had gone, and she took it for granted that she would follow the same path and did. She worked, majored in journalism and had almost a second major in speech. Right before Christmas when Sue was a senior, Gerald Glasco had finished his stint in the Air Force and came back to campus to finish his degree in agriculture. They had met once, and Gerald had spent time with a mutual friend in Hawaii, so he phoned Sue to share greetings from her. They began dating over the holiday break, and by April, they announced their engagement. Sue kept her plans to participate in an interdenominational project at Judson Student House in Greenwich Village, which required participants to find a job, work during the day, and then join in evening Bible study and listening to lecturers from around the city. Weekend activities explored the church in urban life. Sue secured summer employment as a secretary in an office at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and saw upper NY daily. She did not get to any ball parks, but she enjoyed the cheap seats in theaters on and off Broadway. After the summer, Sue went to coach debate and to teach an integrated English-speech class to sophomores at a new high school in a Chicago suburb. She returned home for a June wedding. Gerald and she rented a house (no plumbing) in the country for $10 a month They were eager to start a family, and Katherine was born the following April while Gerald finished his senior year at SIU and they lived on his GI Bill. Wanting to farm someday, Gerald accepted a fellowship at the University of Illinois to complete his masters in ag economics. A farm in the Mississippi bottoms opened up for them to rent but with a three-month gap between finishing his degree and its availability. They felt a miracle provided Gerald a teaching job for that fall term at Western Illinois University. Their only son Gerry was born in Macomb before they began their lives as farmers. They went in debt for a tractor, and Gerald raised pigs without a farrowing house. Their tenant house was cold in winter, and they had to work hard, but they enjoyed farm life. Shortly before their three-year lease expired, their daughter Jean Claire (Jeannie) was born. Soon they moved up to Columbiana Ranch in the middle of the state, where Gerald became livestock manager.Then he and his brother Keith had an opportunity to buy a hog farm back in Southern Illinois the next year; they took the plunge into farm ownership. Keith’s family lived at the hog farm, and they moved into a wonderful old house (cold, no plumbing till they remodeled and put it in) on a rented farm, which would provide crop land. Mary Ellen was born the following June. Keith was able to buy a farm back in their home county and moved his family there, and Gerald and Sue moved over to the hog farm, where they lived for the next 36 years until they built their retirement home on a small lake Gerald had built. Despite a serious childhood illness, Katherine became a singer, a teacher and a children’s librarian in Nashville, TN. Eventually she came back home to teach and to be near her nieces and nephews. She married David Cedar shortly after her unexplained bouts of illness had finally led to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. (Probably the MS had started when she was 14.) She continued to teach music and reading until the stairs became too difficult and she had to retire. Much to their delight right before her 40th birthday, their son Sam was born. Now Sam has one more year of high school before he goes to college. MS has progressed and robbed her of the ability to walk or use her hands. She and Sam live in nearby Marion. Gerry married his high school sweetheart, which was the smartest thing he ever did. Vickie worked full time and held the family together while he developed a successful hunting/outfitting business in Mexico in the winter months and coached travel softball for their three daughters in the summer. Tara grew up to play for SIUC and became a teacher, married Bryan Archibald, and soon had three adorable sons. Erin played for Notre Dame, Texas A&M, USSSA Pride, and then one summer in Europe . She now teaches middle school math and coaches in Texas. Six years ago Gerry closed the business and became assistant softball coach at the University of Georgia. Three years ago he became associate head coach, and Lu Harris-Champer brought Tara in as assistant coach. Tara was able to do this because their family and Gerry and Vickie rented a large house together, and Vickie became a caregiver for the three little boys while Tara coached. Bryan had an office in the house, where he disappeared each morning to the computer, to continue his job at an architecture firm in the Chicago area. Geri Ann finished high school at Oconee, won the 2012 Gatorade High School National Player of the Year in softball, and has just completed two years playing for UGA while studying special education. This summer Gerry is coaching USSSA Pride and has just become associate head coach at Texas A&M. Jeannie grew up with a kitten or sketch pad or both in her hands a large part of the time. She married Rick Eiler, who heads the math department at Freeport High School, and Jeannie now teaches art in a grade school. They raised three talented children. Leslie married Mike Thompson, works for a music publishing company, and continues singing and acting in Nashville, TN. Mike is a personal trainer and has little Leslie doing amazing strength feats, so obviously he is good at what he does. He also plays a fine guitar. Elijah has just finished an internship in a Chicago neighborhood and will be in Indianapolis fall semester and student teaching in Chicago his last semester at Illinois State University. Cecelie, the youngest grandchild, will be a high school sophomore and continues her older siblings’ footsteps in music, speech, and theater. Mary Ellen majored in agriculture communication, and ended up as editor of Tennessee Magazine in Nashville. When she married Brian Taylor, they soon moved to Grinnell, Iowa, where Brian worked for DeKalb Seed. While there, Trent was born and then their daughter Brianna. Several moves after that gave them lots of experience in adjusting to new communities, and last spring they moved to a farm they bought near us. Brian continues to work full time with seeds for Monsanto. He goes up to Saint Louis when needed and works out of a home office otherwise. (Both he and grandson-in-law Bryan say they get more accomplished in a private home office than when co-workers are nearby.) Somehow Brian also farms Gerald and Sue's farm and other rented land. In addition to homemaking and helping Brian, Mary Ellen has just resumed her career as a realtor that she started when they lived in a Saint Louis suburb and which she continued in Springfield, Illinois. Obviously they work too hard. Trent, brilliant family computer and gaming geek, transferred down to John A. Logan College when they moved here. Always at the top of everything she does, beautiful blond Brianna is home working at the local Dairy Queen this summer and will soon be going back for her sophomore year in the honors program at Murray State in Kentucky. Sue’s life has been primarily that of a mother and farm wife. She had what she calls a haphazard education career as a substitute in K-12, part-time teaching at Marion and Johnston City High Schools and in area community colleges. Finally she spent over six years working in family literacy in Franklin County for Rend Lake College, the last two of which were full time. She always wrote some when time allowed. Although she made little money free lancing or part-time teaching, she enjoyed the interaction with students and the stimulation of writing. Sue and Gerald’s original family of two has now grown twenty-four, and that is not counting everyone’s dogs. That is a lot of people to keep track of and an ongoing excuse for Sue not getting all her writing projects done. It also gives her plenty to blog about, and blogging provides her a venue without having to waste stamps and return envelops on manuscripts as she did in her younger days. Back then she wanted to make money, but now she just writes for the pleasure of it.

Laughter and Stories Keep Us From Crying

Winter has brought many good memories and wonderful stories while we gather together and and listen to one another talk of life and happy times.

What can be better than being at table with friends enjoying chili together on a cold winter day? A pretty table with bread made by the host is icing on the cake, but the true cake is enjoying each other while we make new friends and hear life stories. (The lemon cake served for dessert was very good, but still not as good as the stories, Laughter and stories cannot be surpassed. ) How will we ever forget that the long-married couple across from us first met when they were just eleven and nine?

He was visiting her church and playing the piano. He looked around and saw her and thought she was the cutest thing possible even though he had come with another girl who was considered his “girl friend.” Sealing the deal, the little girl he thought so cute winked at him!! She seems quite proper today; but even in the church house, she knew the proper response to his admiration at that early age! They married a few years later, and have led a productive life rearing two fine sons and sharing their many talents wherever they have lived. Since their childhood homes were miles apart , I do not know how they continued that love at first sight. If we are fortunate, maybe we will someday learn how that was achieved. There was another great story about his car break down when he tried to visit her as a young teen. Obviously, this successful couple both knew who they wanted, and the world is a better world because they did!

Last week besides his own doctor appointments, Gerald made several trips to Cape Girardeau to visit his brother Keith. His heart disease had become seriously worse. Then at the end of last week, sadly Keith was sent home with Hospice help.

Actually he amd Barbara have wonderful help already there on their rural hilltop. (They have wonderful help because Keith and Barb have always been quick to provide help to everyone they know.) Both his daughter-in-law Glenda and his granddaughter Lauren are outstanding experienced RNs and live almost within shouting distance of Keith and Barbara's, and they are very attentive and devoted. Their granddaughter Amanda also lives at the foot of the hill with her parents DuWayne and Vickie, so they also have a trained beautitian for manicures and pedicures along with many other services that the nurses and granddaughter Andrea are happy to provide for the grandparents they love. Their granddaughter Tracy has years of experience in the dental field and was able to give Gerald some advice while she was down from Saint Louis to see Keith and Barb. Sons Tim and DuWayne, grandson-in-law Eric, and grandson Greg are all close enough to visit and help and be involved taking care of cattle, dogs, poultry, or anything else Keith would want done. Grandson Mark, though not living adjacently is within a few miles of Keith and Barbara's farm as is our brother Garry. Add on to that Keith's cousins nearby and all the friends he and Barb have collected and you have a community of help available.

Tim and DuWayne encouraged Gerald to come down when he can because they feel like the brothers--only Gerald and Garry now since we lost brother Kenny to leukemia-- make Keith laugh more. (Our kids always loved to have the brothers together to hear all the laughter that was produced as they talked of childhood exploits and neighborhood characters.)

As soon as Ernestine and Don heard how seriously ill Keith was, they started here from Wyoming. Ernestine was the only girl in that family. They were able to bring along their daughter Leah and granddaughter Emmerson called Emmie since Leah is home schooling Emmie this year. Despite living so far away, Emmie has made close ties with the Illinois relatives because she loves the farms and especially all the horses and dogs and kittens and chickens and ducks that she finds on the Union County farms. The Gamble clan arrived late Sunday night to Garry's place exhausted but eager to visit Keith and Barbara. Gerald was eager to see them, of course, but decided to stay away on Monday, so Ernestine could visit that day without competition while Keith was most strong. Those two were the youngest siblings.

Yesterday, however, we could stay away no longer. After a quick visit with Katherine, we took her hugs down to Keith and Barb. I was able to repeat to Keith the loving memories that Katherine had of him. “He always hugged me and whispered in my ear, and I had no doubt he loved me,” she said.

Tim had stayed with him again the previous night since DuWayne is scheduled for future nights. Family were pleased that Keith had slept better than usual the night before. The established routine for Keith was to get up and dress and have breakfast before going to his recliner. The TV screen is adjusted for his chair where he continues his habit of watching his favorite cowboy movies which Barb said he probably has memorized by now. Visitors come sit near him and tell him what they need to tell him, and he responds with typical love and laughter. When he tires, he lapses into sleep and that is good. Lauren, who was on duty yesterday, was quick to anticipate his every need. After lunch he goes into his bedroom to sleep if he wants to, and people visit him there. Once I glanced in to see Lauren lying on the adjoining bed laughing with him and the visitor.

Before Ernestine and Don, Leah and Emmie arrived, Barbara had told us how much fun seven-year- old Emmie had with our warm weather allowing her to play in the yard the day before. (Snow was deep when they left Wyoming.) She took good care of all the kittens, and with permission and encouragement from Barb had created what she called a “kitty buffet” with piles of food for each cat. The zenith of her visit though was to see a chicken fly up into a pan of straw there in the yard and then leave it cackling gleefully! Emmie was amazed to find a warm egg left there, and so was Barbara as she said they were not laying right now. Barb asked her if she would like her to cook that egg for her, and Emmie was delighted to eat the egg she had gathered.

When their family arrived, Leah reported Emmie woke up talking about that egg and said if she found one today,  it was going to be for her Uncle Keith. Soon Emmie was carrying out cat food for the kitties again and snuggling with each one by one. Next Vickie Sue arrived from their home up near Carbondale on Rocky Comfort Road, and she had a Valentine gift for Emmie and colorful decorated cupcakes for all.

Just as Gerald had explained of his previous visits, their adjoining dining room had a table full of food that loved ones had carried in. (DuWayne was not above sending Gerry way down in Texas the mouth-watering photos of his Aunt Opal's famous egg custard pies that she and Bryce took down to them.) All the people coming and going were fed freely if they were hungry, and people usually were when they looked at the food. Garry had brought in buns and pork from Jonesboro's famous Dixie Barbecue along with pies. We had just finished eating, and here came our cousin-in-law Morris with this huge huge pan covered with foil explaining he wanted to get it there while it was still hot from the oven. People started exclaiming that not only did it smell good, but this home-made tea ring was a work of art. Lauren was quick to hand out servings to everyone, but I had to go look to see how beautiful that tea ring was. Barbara explained that Morris and cousin Judy are known as these generous cooks who regularly show up with tea rings and home-made pies for the sick and their families. Morris always donates a similar large tea ring to the local fall festival, which raises money for the school, and people will bid it up to fifty dollars or more.

After lunch, Emmie was quick to go back outside in the warm weather. One by one, each kitten was carried in and visited with us. Since there were three dogs n the room (Keith's beloved Hash, Lauren and Eric's little Murphy,and Don and Ernestine's Finley), there were a few snappy interactions if the kitten escaped Emmie's arms. That provided a bit of excitement, but the best part was the kittens inspired Barb to start telling Emmie about all her pet animals down through the years. Barb pulled her wheel chair toward Emmie, who was soon enthralled.

I remembered sitting in their living room long ago and suddenly seeing a terrapin come crawling slowly out from under the couch. I assumed that like most farmer's wives, Barb had baby pigs and calves inside to warm up. But I had forgotten about the pet ground hog. Barb said Keith had found a tiny pink animal no bigger than your hand out in the yard and brought it in. They had no idea what kind of an animal it was, but Barb got out the baby bottles and the formula she used for baby pigs and started caring for the tiny thing. It turned out to be a ground hog and remained a loving pet for a long time until it was full size. It finally bit her after she had been asked to take it to school for the kids to see, and perhaps that excitement over stimulated it. There was also a story about a raccoon although it must have been a short story because I cannot remember how that one showed up, but the photograph of it high up the wall sitting atop their horse collar lamp was adorable.

But the best story was of the pet skunk Barbara had briefly as a little girl. The family saw it on the highway, and Barb's dad stopped and retrieved it and handed it to Barbara. She loved it, of course, and the only time it ever sprayed was once when a dog threatened it and once when it hurt its foot on a loose wire. She kept it until her mother found Barb had it inside her bedroom and decided it was time for the skunk to go elsewhere. Perhaps the sweetest part of Barb's stories was getting to watch wide-eyed Emmie hearing them. A tiny little thing, Emmie has huge blue eyes in a little elfin face and almost a perpetual smile. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious.

It was getting late in the afternoon; and though we were reluctant to go, we needed to. But then Keith and Gerald's cousin Irma and husband Jim arrived from Jonesboro, and we wanted to visit with them when they were not in the bedroom visiting with Keith. At Gerald's suggestion, I had put on my coat and gone into the yard where he and Irma were visiting, when Gerald realized his cousin Joyce, who was driving over from Cape Girardeau, was almost there. So while Irma and Barbara directed her on the country roads to find the farm, we were back inside for yet another family visit.

I loved being in that familiar living room again. Let me tell you about it. While they were adding this room to the house the Holly Sitter family had left behind, a swallow had found one of the overhead beams they were using on the ceiling. They enjoyed watching her build her nest of mud attached to the beam and raise her babies there. Barb would not allow them to clean the beam after the bird family left. The nest has remained these many years with a tiny cloth bird sticking its nose out of the top. The outside wall is all rock with a fireplace in the middle, and three mounted deer heads from long-ago hunts. The room-length mantle is filled with framed photographs of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, horses, and other beloved animals. A pleasing collection of baskets hangs down from the mantle.

Beside the carpeted room with lots of seating is a long tiled walk from the front door to the kitchen and dining room, and that wall is filled with more photographs and memory-filled art work made by the grandchildren. Perfectly clean now, I know that tile walkway has had much traffic from muddy farm boots and the muddy barefoot feet of a host of happy children.

Oh, I must mention the two large gray hornet's nests—one on each side of the beam separating the living room and dining room. I have never seen a hornet's nest in anyone else's living room, but I love the looks of them in this room. Oh, now I do remember part of the raccoon story. Her nephew Kerry had giving Barb one of the hornet's nests, and that raccoon climbed up there and started to destroy it. He quickly became persona non grata, and that was the reason for his departure.

Today brother Garry phoned that Keith was much weaker this morning, so Gerald and Mary Ellen went down after lunch. Vicki Sue was there and had posted on Facebook she was sad, so I am dreading today's report when they return. I hope Garry and Gerald were able to make Keith laugh again today. Regardless, their hearts will be warmed this cold day by the love in that house on the hill, but at the same time their hearts will also be broken as they watch their brother's health deteriorate.

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January Happenings at Woodsong

A nurse at one of Gerald's routine appointments asked him if he had had anything good happen to him. He was quick to tell her that we had just learned on Sunday that we are going to have our first great granddaughter expected at the end of May.

Although Erin and Josh were eagerly waiting to find out what the latest ultrasound showed, their only expressed desire was that the baby be healthy. Since Josh was on base, Erin scheduled her mother for a visit to go with her to the doctor for this important check-up. We immediately got that the good news that all was well, but that it would be announced on Sunday whether this infant was to be a boy or girl.

It was awfully late in the day when that video finally came on our Facebook accounts. Before it did, there were some worried texts and phone calls. Anticipation in Illinois was high. Finally the video announcement came showing Erin and her mother standing in front of Erin's travel softball team and opening a large box to release balloons, And they were PINK with a few red ones mixed in. Those who know Erin will not doubt that her child will probably be properly represented by a few reds mixed in the the pinks.

We were thrilled—just as we would have been if blue balloons had come out of that box. With three great grandsons already in our lives, we know how wonderful baby boys are. And we could imagine how much fun a little boy cousin would have with those three. But it is also easy to imagine how they will enjoy taking care of a little girl. (Many years ago, Erin and her big sister Tara relished taking care of baby Leslie. Those were our first three grandchildren, and the two older ones made Leslie a little princess. Forgive the digression please, but one pleasure of being old is that everything brings up memories.)

Being able to know the baby's sex is a relatively new possibility despite old wives' tales trying to convince us about how we carried our babies—low or high. Now that young parents can find out scientifically, they often want to announce to the world whether it will be a boy or girl. Others choose to not know ahead of time or not to share it if they do. Knowing does help to decorate the nursery or what kind of shower gifts to buy. (Way way back in time, all infant clothing was usable by either sex, which is why there are some adorable long-ago photographs of little boys in sweet dresses.) Gerald's next big project is finding Caroline Marie her first paid of overalls. He has already checked out the infant aisles at Rural King.

I am not sure why I have not blogged in January very much. I have not been that over busy. Christmas decorations were put away a couple weeks ago. I think the only one still out is a favorite small table cloth I use every year that talented Joyce Beasley made me long ago. Candle wax spilled on it, and so it is in the garage where I am gradually picking off the wax down to the cloth, and then I have to figure out what the next step should be.

Listening to the news has taken more time than usual. I think it is very important that we all be very watchful right now since our democracy may be at stake. It has always been important to be watchful, of course, but we have not previously had Russia trying to influence our election in addition to destroying Aleppo while threatening Europe. Nor have we had politicians' spoke persons defending “alternative facts.” Accurate information is always difficult to come by because the whole truth is often cumbersome and almost impossible to discover. But defending untruths is not only disgusting but about as unpatriotic as one can get. I cannot get over the reporter who falsely reported that President Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King. I am sure that reporter feels terrible about his admitted mistake, but my sympathy would not keep me from firing him if I were his editor. He has caused so much trouble by his sloppiness and laziness in not checking out what he was writing even if he did not mean to write an untruth. Others are deliberately spreading falsehoods. So though I would like to watch less television now that the election is over, I feel a responsibility to pay attention. That is one reason I have not blogged.

Despite often falling asleep when I sit to read, I have read considerably this month since an excellent aide has reduced the time I've needed to help care for our daughter Katherine. I did go in this evening to feed supper, give night pills and help her get comfortable and pick her choice from the guide of TV shows for night watching. I have read quite a bit of the book I asked Gerald to give me for Christmas and have continued reading a couple others I already had started.

This afternoon I finished the third volume of Lawrance Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. Thompson died before completing this third volume. Consequently, R. H. Winnick, a student and then assistant of Thompson, worked with him and finished Robert Frost: The Later Years, 1938-1963. I still need to finish an Appendix containing Thompson's personal notes about this well-loved and troubled sensitive poet who lived a long life despite many health and other problems. As I read about his final days, I felt tearful. And then I turned on the TV to learn Mary Tyler Moore had died. Who could not admire her beauty, her talent, her courage, and all she did to make us laugh? Thank you Mary Tyler Moore for all you did to advance the cause of women and to fight against diabetes. While we recognize the extreme importance of government, we must never forget the importance of the arts.


 

 

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Good to hear your exciting news, Sue. What a dynasty you have founded! :-) I've never read a biography of Robert Frost, but am a... Read More
Monday, 30 January 2017 16:49
Monika Schott
Lovely news for your family, Sue. I always enjoy your blogs but understand being preoccupied with so much going on. Stay well. ... Read More
Thursday, 02 February 2017 22:09
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Twelve Days of Christmas--or More

Our Christmas was different, but it was a good one. Our first pre-Christmas guests were Gerry and Vickie and Geri Ann, who had already had their family celebration at College Station. We had a good breakfast with Glasco kin at Cracker Barrell the morning after they arrived around midnight. There was a second Glasco breakfast there a week later when was Jamie Escue was home from Louisiana, but I was at Katherine's the evening before and didn't get to go to that breakfast. Gerry and Geri Ann were giving two softball clinics in this area while here, and Gerald even went along to the second one and was impressed. As well as to be with the Johnson and Glasco family celebrations, Vickie was here to help her mother who was recovering from surgery.

Gerry did not stay as long as the other two.Vickie took Gerry up the Friday before Christmas to catch a 4:30 a.m. plane to south Texas for hunting and bird dog work, which Gerry loves so much that it is more fun than work. We fed him favorite foods that we had stuck in the freezer to save for him since he could not be here for the Thanksgiving feast. On Christmas day, he was texting Vickie trying to get pity for missing the family dinners and claiming to eat from a bag of chips, but I refused to feel even a mite of pity. His hunting work continued through the New Year celebration when Vickie and their three grandsons joined him for the weekend, and he really enjoyed himself then.

Jeannie and Rick with Cecelie came through Woodsong for a brief overnight visit on their way down to Nashville to spend Christmas with Leslie and Mike. With Geri Ann here from Oregon and Sam here from Baylor, and the Taylor kids off school, they made the most of Cecelie's visit. They also made plans then for a second cousins' celebration the day after Christmas when Cecelie would be back through and Elijah also would be driving up after his Nashville visit. In fact, Vickie agreed to stay an extra day just so the six youngest of the cousins could have yet another night together, and Sam's special friend Anna joined them since they consider her one of the cousins. (When I say night together, I am not exaggerating. They started early and left Woodsong for dinner in Carbondale and a movie and I think a bowling alley visit and ended up at Woodsong where the hardiest of them stayed up till 4 a.m. I was told. Since that was about the time Vickie and Geri Ann were gathering up their suitcases and three dogs to drive to College Station, I am not sure Geri Ann ever went to bed.) That same night Jeannie and Rick and I saw the same movie, Fences, in Marion. That was a late night out on the town for me, but I think we were probably home soon after l0, and Jeannie and I did not talk too late since they were also driving home the next day.

Christmas Day itself was a small affair for us, but quite lovely for me since once again Mary Ellen had us over to their farm for dinner. Vickie and Geri Ann enjoyed the Johnson celebration on Saturday, and her mother was up to that gathering.  On Sunday, they attended church at Stonefort with her brothers' families and were very happy to hear Louie and Terry sign together. The Taylors and us worshipped in Marion together and enjoyed beautiful music, the sermon, and seeing friends. While the Taylors went on to the farm and check the ham and last minute meal preparations, we were able to go by Katherine's and give her pills before lunch. Later Mary Ellen and I took her in Christmas dinner, and Mary Ellen fed her, and we all enjoyed the Christmas tree Sam had put up in her bedroom  the night before for the special dinner he prepared and the evening they had together. Geri Ann and Brianna came adding to the afternoon  festivities, and our visit probably wore her out before we finally departed.

Mary Ellen's house was decorated inside and out this year; and when we drove by, we had already been enjoying Brian's white star on the barn—the same star the Rix family put up there for years. As we stepped into their large kitchen and were greeted by Fifi, our eyes were delighted with her lovely colorful table with its many candles and places waiting for the nine of us. Our noses were delighted with the wonderful smells, and soon our mouths were rewarded with all the good food they had waiting for us. Sam arrived from going to church with Anna and Vickie and Geri Ann were there.  Like Gerry, Fifi wanted us to feel sorry for her not having the yummy food; but remembering her vet's warning after she got sick on human food, I did not give her a mite of pity either. After we had indulged in the dessert table with its colorful fruit, pies, Brianna's angel food cake and the chocolate covered peanut butter drops she had also made, we all gathered by the tree in the living room to exchange gifts and stories. (I love the stories about the pinball machine decorating one back corner of their living room.) We were all having so much fun and laughter that Trent almost forgot that he was supposed to be at work by 2, but he wasn't very late.  Sam was able to go on and help his little niece celebrate her first birthday at his brother Davie and Krissy"s house.

The day after Christmas I enjoyed visiting with family still at the farm, but I was saddened to attend the funeral of a writer friend.  Jari Jackson had asked for a "journalist funeral."  The funeral director and her pastor were not sure what that meant, but Mayor Bob Butler, Jon Musgrave, and  Pastor Bob Dickerson did an excellent job of creating one for a long time journalist who wrote for big city papers and then retired in her hometown and continued writing pro bono promoting good things here.

Gerald and I celebrated New Year's Eve by driving into Marion and having our evening meal at the new I-HOP, which we had not yet visited. Waitresses with bright clothing and bright smiles greeted us warmly as we entered, the food was delicious, and everything was so new and clean. We were surprised at how large it was, which will be great next summer for the baseball crowds.

Altogether it was a very nice Christmas season despite our no longer all being together on one day and despite the horror of multiple sclerosis. Our one tree is still up and quite beautiful to me. I usually leave a tree up until New Year's Day because that is what we did at our house when I was a child in Jonesboro. Once or twice, however, when the weather was so bad the kids had school cancelled, I left a tree up till Old Christmas that I learned about from Jesse Stuart, a day some English immigrants continued down in Kentucky and which some Amish still do.  Tomorrow is Old Christmas or Epiphany and our tree will be there to help us celebrate. The truth is I am leaving it up till I get around to it, maybe during the weekend or maybe afterward. Taking off all the ornaments and putting them away in their proper box and then pulling the tree apart takes up a large part of a day, and the family room will be a jumble until the job is finally finished. So my twelve days of Christmas may stretch out to fourteen or so.  

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Perfectly Prepared for Christmas

The tree is up and decorated in our downstairs walk-out family room. Left-over pies from Thanksgiving were thawed for Gerry, who could not be here that holiday. Final Christmas cards are in the mail, the ones I did not have an address for. In the old days, one could look in the phone book for local addresses, and that is what I did unsuccessfully in this day of cell phones. It finally dawned on me that I could look up addresses on the Internet, so I did. I even got the bags of plastic bags to the Salvation Army store since they appreciate them especially during this busy buying season.

I made a quick decision last Friday not to put up the living room tree this year. I planned to, but suddenly the thought of not having to unearth it and all its decorations sounded good to me. Then, best of all, the thought of not having to take it back down and store everything again sounded even better. So in a weak moment, I made the decision; and for the first time in 15 years, there is no tree in the living room in this house. Yes, I miss it a bit, and I am resolving to be better organized next year. On the other hand, maybe this is a fine new tradition.

Reading the latest issue of Springhouse, my favorite regional magazine, I had changing emotions when I read my friend Dixie Terry's usual column. First I was mad at myself. Then I decided I was angry at Dixie for making me mad at myself. Then I corrected that thought knowing I was just jealous. Then I found myself amazed and admiring her extreme competence even though I have always considered her a very talented person who seems to do more than any one person could.

She had me going all right until I came to her punch line after she had described the beautiful decorations, the completed baking, and all the Christmas preparations she had accomplished early in December. While I was still shaking my head and telling myself that I could surely do a little better if I started earlier next year, her next phrase stopped my whirling brain: “IN MY DREAMS,” she said. Ah well. That was better. I am sure her house is more decorated than mine and that she really has done all kinds of food making, none of which I have done. Nevertheless, the perfect preparation she described was only in her dreams! Now she could still be my friend!! It was that perfection we all only dream about that had made her untouchable and unreal. Thanks for the laugh, Dixie—something you have often made me do when you have written about your busy life.

Another fascinating Springhouse article was about Mark Motsinger, whose father Virgil received the Crab Orchard High School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 after an outstanding coaching career at Southeaster Illinois College. Mark's grandparents were the late “Copper” and Irene Motsinger in our village. Mark is now teaching history in the high school at Carrier Mills, but back in 2000 after a successful 16-year career coaching the Lady Falcons, he was one of several people laid off at SIC, and he spent the next year teaching in a Christian school in Senegal. On weekends he helped out in a nearby village, where he actually bought land and helped establish a church. He experienced much we don't see in Crab Orchard. If you don't already subscribe, you might want to pick up a copy at some area businesss who handle the magazine, or just subscribe for $35 to Springhouse, 8250 Level Hill Road, Junction, IL 62954. If you ask for the current issue with Mark's story, I bet Brian DeNeal would send it to you.

I am also reading the new local book my brother Jim and his wife Vivian sent me: The Law and Judge Lynch: 200 years of murder in Johnson County, Illinois by Ed and Diane Annable. They had received a copy before I knew about the book because Diane is is Vivian's niece. An interesting good pick-up-and-put-down book, it is quite revealing of past times and attitudes. I have read a couple other books recently in addition to finishing the second volume of Lawrance Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. (I had recently re-read the first volume, and now I am on the third.) So I have had time to read even if I did not feel I had time to put up a second Christmas tree. But then, of course, I can read sitting down. (It feels good to have some time to read lately, except I am likely to fall asleep in my chair.)

Gerald and I also took time to go see the annual musical at the Marion Civic Center last weekend. I so enjoyed the beautiful music, the many quickly alternating attractive sets, and the brightly colored costumes as well as finding out what Tiny Tim did after he became an adult. What a great gift to our community from the First Baptist Church! We appreciated the Saturday matinee, so we could still get home early. It was pouring so hard when we got out that we changed our plans to eat in town. We did not even want to go through a drive-in with wind blowing rain inside the car. As it turned out, we had three grandkids drop by who have all finished final exams and were hanging out together. So we let everyone choose from our supply of frozen sandwiches that we keep on hand, and with the help of the microwave, everyone had a bite to eat.

Our Oregon grandchild, Geri Ann, arrived with her parents Gerry and Vickie from Texas just after midnight Tuesday night. Because of their late arrival, the Glasco breakfast gang very graciously committed to an 8 a.m. breakfast time at the local Cracker Barrel. That was late enough and close enough even I was willing to get up and make it! A dozen of us lingered for way over an hour talking, laughing, and taking photos. Three of us old generation (Gerald, me, and Keith), six of the second generation, two of the third generation, and tiny Gentry (wearing spurs no less) made it a four-generation event. That night the Taylors joined us for a supper of store-bought frozen lasagna and salad—one of the easiest meals I know of.

Since Gerry and Geri Ann are involved in two softball clinics and Vickie is helping with her mother who is recovering from surgery, we are not going to see as much as we'd like of them, but it is nice to have them in and out. Vickie is also busy taking care of her new puppy Gage, who is in Gerald's shop along with Chloey and Chance. She makes sure they are let out to scamper about every few hours. (The Archibalds couldn't come so they are taking care of Nelly.)

Our one tree is twinkling brightly right now while Gerald watches a basketball game. It is not piled with gifts beneath as in the past. I not only went very lightly buying gifts this year, but they were wrapped and mostly sent home with family members either at Thanksgiving or since then. Shopping is a more difficult chore than I want to experience, and I don't like mailing packages either. I have found time recently to do my long-neglected leg exercises that I never should have stopped, and I think I am already walking a bit better. If I keep that up, maybe I will be able to be better organized next Christmas! In the meantime, I am blogging to you and wearing the very bright sequined sweat shirt that Mary Ellen made me many years ago when she was a young single editor down in Tennessee. I always get lots of notice and compliments when I wear it in public. I am looking and feeling festive and am relaxed since I don't have to achieve Dixie and my dreams of perfect preparations.

 

 

 

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
So glad you're able to relax and enjoy Christmas. Worth remembering that the first one was well planned, but turned out pretty muc... Read More
Saturday, 24 December 2016 13:19
Sue Martin Glasco
Thanks, Rosy, and Merry Christmas to you and yours! Your gift of Green Room is much appreciated all year around!
Saturday, 24 December 2016 21:29
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