Christmas 2017

Dear Friends and Relatives,

Perhaps our greatest blessing in 2017 was Erin's giving birth to our first great granddaughter—Caroline Marie Simons in Belton, Texas, on June 1. A couple weeks later Caroline's daddy Joshua had to return to South Korea, and we are eagerly awaiting his return in early 2018. We were able to see Erin and meet Roxanne, Josh's mother (from Minnesota and Oregon), at a baby shower in Johnston City, and then we met Caroline herself the first of August. Now we are eagerly awaiting a second visit for Christmas. Erin returned to teaching with the help of a superb caretaker—her mama Vickie. Vickie goes home on the weekend—wherever home is as she and Gerry have been on the move this year.

Sadly, in February we lost Keith, Gerald's youngest brother, from congestive heart disease. Having their only sister Ernestine and husband Don Gamble come from Wyoming was a comfort. We lost his brother Ken in 2008, so that makes us really appreciate his brother Garry. (Garry continues their father's practice of growing food for others, and we are glad because the sweet corn he gave us was so delicious!) My brother Jim, age 89, had some serious heart concerns this year, but he and Vivian remain in their home in Mattoon. Their son Robert stayed with them for several months to help; and when he had to join his wife who was also having health problems, their two local daughters and granddaughters are right there giving care. Their church helps and even brings the Lord's Supper to their home. My sister Rosemary, age 92, and husband Phil are doing well in Amarillo. Rosemary plays the organ for church services, and even goes to Tai Chi twice a week! Yes, they still serve Friday night supper to their large family.

Our lives continues to be saddened (heart broken) by Katherine's advanced multiple sclerosis, which keeps her largely bed fast in her home in Marion. Fortunately, her bedroom looks out over the city park and adds a little more interest to her life than just the television.placed high for her vision and the phone clamped to her bed. She is so intelligent and interested in life that it is painful for me to think of her limitations and life of pain. Her son Sam is now a junior at Baylor in Waco majoring in English and philosophy. He interned this summer in Austin teaching language arts to 8th graders, and he loved it. This fall he had a morning class teaching high school sophomores, and he liked that too. He studies hard and still lives in a house with a group of guys from his church, but he likes to travel as much as possible. He is home for Christmas.

The Eilers--our middle daughter Jeannie and husband Rick--still teach and coach at Freeport. In addition to heading the math department at the high school, Rick also coached his Pretzel track team to state first place last spring. Jeannie rides her bike whenever she can, and she helped create a women's conference for her church again last summer. She teaches over 500 K-5 kids in two different schools, which sounds impossible to me. It keeps her working much too hard, but I bet those lucky kids are getting a good exposure to expressing themselves through art. Leslie Thompson, their eldest, and her husband Mike just moved from their first house which they renovated in Nashville and into a beautiful home in Mt. Juliet. They are hosting the Eiler family's Christmas. Mike is on the Nashville police force; Leslie “went rogue” in January with her own business.(https://www.lesliethompson.com or just google her name.) Elijah is in his second year teaching visually impaired kids for the Chicago Public School system. He also taught one class of language arts for 8 weeks last spring, and I loved hearing about that. After an exciting senior year of high school, Cecelie went to Kolkata, India, last summer on a mission trip and helped care for babies and children there. She now attends Highland Community College and continues working part-time at a local thrift store. 

We pass the farm home of our youngest daughter Mary Ellen and husband Brian Taylor on our way to town, and it is good to have them so close. Brian works in an office at their home but goes to St. Louis when necessary. He also farms and had outstanding crop yields this year. Mary Ellen continues working for House2Home and also edits their monthly magazine. Both Trent and Brianna will graduate on the same day this spring! Trent heads up SIUC's cyber security team, which has done extremely well in national competitions. He also works part time on campus with something about the Internet that I do not understand and also for AMC theater in Marion. Last summer he interned at the AMC headquarters in Kansas City, and Brianna studied in Grenada, Spain, as part of her TESOL training at Murray University. This fall she had a class helping children learn English and she loved it, and she will have the same kids this spring as she does her student teaching,

Gerry and Vickie sold their home in College Station and moved for the summer into a cabin on acreage near the city but with land and lakes for three grandsons and bird dogs to enjoy. Then their daughter Tara and husband Bryan Archibald moved to Normal in September when Tara became assistant softball coach at Illinois State. Our three Archibald great grandsons—Aidan, Maddux, and Payton—are an enormous pleasure to us (and to athletic teams wherever they live) and we are happy they are closer to Woodsong. Bryan continues to work out of his home but now is closer to his company's headquarters--also closer to his family! Gerry spent the summer coaching the Scrap Yard Dawgs of Houston and won the National Professional Fast Pitch championship. Then he accepted associate softball coach at Auburn University in Alabama and was in the process of buying a house there when University of Louisiana at Lafayette came calling. With the kindness of Auburn's head coach Mickey Dean and many others, he was able to become head softball coach at ULL. It has been an exciting transition. Mary Ellen and Gerald made a quick trip down to the press conference announcing his appointment. Now Gerry and Vickie are looking for a house there. Geri Ann graduated from the University of Oregon in June and began work this fall at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Portland. She loves Oregon and her new job. She made it to Illinois for Erin's baby shower and another time for a friend's wedding, but those visits were too short. We are so excited she will be here for Christmas.

Gerald continues to amaze me—cleaning ditches, mowing an ever enlarging lawn, coping with a burned tractor when a bird built a nest inside it, refurbishing our porch furniture, putting up a 70' tower for better Internet reception, replacing 16-year-old faucets in our “new” house. He took time out for two cataract surgeries and has aches and pains like he is supposed to at age 87. Yet we enjoyed tomatoes, okra, blackberries, asparagus, strawberries, cantaloupe, and watermelon from his garden, which he plants, cares for, and harvests with no help from me. When I can't keep up with freezing the excess, he takes it to town to share with those in need. He continues to enjoy Union County breakfasts “with the boys,” and we both love it when his classmate phones about an informal reunion at Anna's Mexican restaurant. A summer highlight was enjoying the total eclipse from our deck with Bob and Sylvia Mountz of Arizona. Sylvia was one of the nine Fisher kids at the state forest next to Gerald's family farm in Union County. We also enjoyed a 25th reunion of our Baptist Student Union friends at Giant City Lodge in September, and we attended a Godwin family reunion at the park by the Mississippi River in Grand Tower as did all of Gerald's Wenger cousins.

I realized I had truly gotten old when Gerry's A&M team and Geri Ann's Oregon team, where she was a student coach, both made it to the World Series in Oklahoma City in June, and I accepted I would be better off watching games on television than trying to do all the walking required if we attended. This summer I completed some dental work and had many health tests mostly coming back good. So recently I finally had time to start physical therapy again to improve my balance and walking ability-- problems tests showed caused by arthritis and cartilege wear. I am doing better but still use a cane at night and when I leave the house. Hearing loss distresses me despite wearing aids. I celebrated my 84th birthday on Thanksgiving Day. I have continued to blog as I have for 12 years now, but instead of twice a week, it is more likely to be only every two or three weeks. Several years ago a group in California began a website called Red Room and invited writers and would-be writers to publish with them. I accepted as did President Obama. I posted my blog Woodsong Notes there and made many dear Internet friends from California, Maine, Ireland, Greece, London, and other places far from Woodsong. When Red Room closed, someone created a Facebook spot for Red Room alumni to keep in touch. Another writer and her son in England created Green Room, and many of us post there. Anne Born has a publishing company in New York and a fascinating life riding subways there and walking Camino de Santiago (The way of Saint James) in Spain. Last year she invited us to contribute to her book These Summer Months: Stories from the Late Orphan Project about coping with the deaths of parents. My article in that was “Grieving Clyde and Kate.” This year her second volume for this project These Winter Months closed with the poem “Gone” about my parents. Both are available on Amazon as is her newest book. In 2018, my goal is to finally get back and finish some family history writing that I had to give up a couple years ago. Consequently, I may have to stop blogging; but if so, you can find past entries at https:sueglasco.blogspot.com. Also a story about George Cozby and the Jonesboro Cemetery that I had written in 1954 was republished in the Union County Historical Society newsletter.

Here is my annual scripture gift. It is one you probably know by heart. Enjoy thinking about it: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

Love and Merry Christmas, Sue

P.S. I apologize for the length of this letter but figure people can pick out the names of those they are interested in. But since so many changes happened to our family and I may not have the energy to do Christmas cards next year, I thought you might want to know the current status of our family members. I am always envious of friend Wendell Garrison's holiday letter. He has more to report on than I do, and he does it so briefly and yet I feel “caught up” with his family. Ah well.....I have tried to imitate him, but I can't do it.