My usual mode in this space is to find the ugly, the crazy, the leftie-pinko nutcase idea and argue against it. Cops need a punch in the face. We should burn D.C. and impale all 600 or so members of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court as a start, then genocide our way through the civil servants . . . blah, blah, blah.
If you come this way looking for that today, go away. This isn’t that. Not today. My Mom passed quietly on June 5th, 2006 in the afternoon. She was 83. There are times when I don’t want to stay in my usual mode and try to find comedy in all the ways my family is/was dysfunctional. I mean, I’m her son. How did that happen? No, this post, this moment, is time to look back and praise a good Christian woman who went home to Christ yesterday.
I found out about her passing while at work. At that moment I had an angry client who claimed I’d given her a dirty, used laptop that wasn’t properly prepared for her. Which, was almost true. None of the laptops we issue are new. All of them have had at least a few hours in the hands of a factory certified technician preparing it for the client. A fresh out of the box laptop would be unusuable. But, in computer-whack-a-mole as in cab driving I don’t deal with the 99% of the community that is fine. I make a living on the 1% that isn’t fine. This space is dedicated to the 1% who are not fine. And as we had a chance to help the angry client it turned out that another part of our team hadn’t created the necessary accounts for her so she could use her computer. Which . . . I could do but don’t have permission to do so I didn’t/don’t.
But, this isn’t about my wonderful, wild life in Desktop/Deskside Support. It’s about Ginny Webb, 83, wife of Robert Byron Webb, kin of the Peirsalls dating back before the American Revolution, Social Worker, mother of four, fierce champion of the downtrodden and good Christian woman.
Virginia Lee Webb, 83, passed away quietly on Sunday June 5, 2016 in the loving care of my father. It was a day like every other in his house for the last few years. She was waked, given breakfast, time watching TV until lunch, fed lunch, put back in bed at her request, then left to sleep until dinner. When my Dad went to wake her for dinner she had passed.
My Mom was every bit the mid-century WASP, upper-middle class woman. She bested the Jones. Her house (when we kids didn’t do the chaos kids do) was better than her neighborhood competition. 18 speed blender? Ours had 21 speeds. Karastan wall-to-wall carpet. 3 custom American Cherry cabinets that still prominently fill one wall of my Dad’s living room built by a cabinet maker and friend of the family. Our house was a contract and an architect’s rendering at the start. When it came to the marathon of status signaling stuff, my Mom had it going on.But, and I think this is something I loved about her. She had that aw-shucks Mid-Atlantic neurosis. What she had she’d say wasn’t nothing. She’d point to the Janes across the street who mixed their cocktails in Waterford barware. Or to the Florida room Mrs. Metz had Mr. Metz build on his vacation time. Or across the street, the Czech neighbors, who had the better Tupperware set. Never mind that she could pay off the house by selling the family silverware.
We didn’t feel rich. We felt normal. Yeah, we had the usual dysfunction that comes with upper-middle class success. I was a huge fan of John Bradshaw for a time. I did my share of time in therapy. But you could never accuse my Dad of being out of anything. It’s not as true as in once was. It used to be that I could eat for a month on what he thought was enough groceries for a week. But we could do that and we did.
Ginnie Webb’s career as a social worker starts in Washington Township. Then she got a job with the county as a field case worker. I can remember riding with her to client’s houses in the ’60’s when you could lose your check if you had a man living with you or you weren’t doing the needful.
An aside. This site is about story and the way we narrate our lives and how that is influential on and descriptive of ourselves. So, facts here suffer. This post is no different. I remember visuals, images of her. I don’t remember narrative that well. So, these words are impressions, metaphors, allegories that talk about my memories of her. If you know different, good on you. Post what you know in the comments..
Ginny Webb is a Piersall, with roots in Southern New Jersey that go back before the American Revolution. She graduated with a degree in Social Work and was a licensed social worker for Washington Township, Gloucester County and later, the State of New Jersey. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers. There are many of her clients who were glad she was on their side, many who can count her as one of the team who helped them get back on their feet. When choosing sides between her superiors and the client, she chose the client, losing many of these fights but never willing to give up the good fight for those she felt needed a champion. She hated the way welfare and public housing treated those it was intended to help. Where she could, she tried to get her clients off welfare and into housing they leased/owned.
Ginny Webb loved craft for as long as I can remember. She sewed many of our clothes growing up, something that used to bug the crap out of me. She was good, though. There was rug hooking, embroidery, stitching, cooking, and later, some rather beautiful pottery that is at once melancholic and touching. My youngest sister still treasures the collection of unfired pots she left behind.
We came to know she had dementia some years ago when she got in a few car accidents and it became clear that she could no longer drive. Her short term memory failed her and the disease attacked her ability to moderate her emotions. Dementia and complications from diabetes slowly stole her motor control so that my last picture of her is with her in a wheel-chair, backlit by a favorite lamp of hers.
Most of us are part of the choir, the unheard blend of voices that combine into a beautiful song. We never get our 15 minutes, never walk a red carpet, never get caught answering a question with a headline worthy answer. We live, leave a story behind, and are fondly remembered and eventually forgotten. My Mom was Ginny Webb, and though Charlie Rose never called, is a star in my heart. I am privileged to have her as a Mom. I’ll miss her.