In an earlier day and age, Ashley Elisabeth[cq] Ferguson wouldn’t be with us today. She would never have celebrated her second birthday, as she did with her large extended family on Saturday.
The little fireball would not be counting to 10, or saying her ABCs, like she does now. Sometimes she needs a bit of prompting with the latter.
The daughter of Lisa and Billy Ferguson, Ashley was born three months premature in 2010. She weighed 1 pound 2 ounces. She was so tiny, her grandmother Jackie Ferguson told me, that you could easily cradle Ashley in one hand.
“Her first diaper was the size of a saltine cracker,” Jackie Ferguson said. “I hung it on our Christmas tree.”
The teeny little girl was in the hospital for three months and there were times when she struggled greatly. A chief concern was the development of her lungs. She was on a respirator for two different stretches.
Many tears were shed and many prayers were prayed that she would make it. And she did. Jackie Ferguson is so thankful.
Hers was among scores of letters and emails I received in a little Thanksgiving Day experiment we started a few years ago that’s called “For what are you thankful?”
You can attach just about every adjective you can think of to the stories that emerge: heart-warming, tender, tragic, funny, and hair-raising are but a few.
What ties them together, though, is the underlying emotion of thankfulness. Today’s the right day to consider that.
Jackie Ferguson is also thankful for many other reasons. She was 19, with two little boy toddlers when her first husband abandoned their family. The suddenly single mom took a job waitressing. Her parents lent a hand with childcare and when the boys were older, the welfare system did, too.
In her early 20s she was waiting tables at Lendy’s on Church Avenue downtown when she met Gary Ferguson, a Roanoke Gas company worker. He and his colleagues used to stop in for coffee before they headed out into the field.
They married when she was 25, and Gary, who had a daughter from a previous marriage, adopted her two sons.
“He’s a wonderful husband and father,” Jackie Ferguson told me. Both her sons grew up and had careers in the military.
Today Gary and Jackie Ferguson live on 12 O’Clock Knob in southwest Roanoke County. And because Gary was one of 16 children, the family gatherings can get real big.
That was the case Saturday, when many of the Ferguson clan came together to celebrate Ashley’s birthday in a spirit of great thankfulness.
Read on for the reasons others are feeling the same way today. Happy Thanksgiving.
READ THE REST OF THIS COLUMN HERE.
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And, here are some of the “Thanksfuls” that arrived too late for the print edition:
New kidney gave him new lease on life
Recently you asked readers to let you know what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving season.
I was diagnosed with kidney disease many years ago. Three years ago I was told I would soon need a transplant, go on dialysis or die. Over a year ago my disease got to the point that I did go on dialysis so I could continue to function somewhat normally.
During this time I received a tremendous amount of support from my wife Marcia. My children Eric and Tracy and so many friends, neighbors and medical staff. I think I was on the prayer list of almost every church in the area. My niece Crystal Lawson set up a Caring Bridge web site for me.
In addition to that support, there were those willing to part with one of their kidneys so I could have a better life. My wife, son and daughter were all tested to see if they were a match. My sister, her children and several friends also volunteered to be tested.
My daughter Tracy, after a year long process turned out to be practically a perfect match. My surgeon Dr. Brayman at UVA said it doesn’t get any better than that. On July 26th my daughter and I went to UVA and I got a new lease on life.
My brother, Ty Willetts traveled from Palmdale CA. to spend two weeks helping me in and out of bed and any thing else I needed. He made sure the doctor’s orders were followed.Dan,
No more nine hour daily sessions with a dialysis machine that really doesn’t make you feel much better, but it does keep you alive. “Thankful” barely describes how I feel about what has transpired in my life this past few years.
My daughter is indeed a very special and incredible person. I tried to talk her out of this but she was determined to give me that great gift!
She’s thankful for many things
I am thankful for meeting the love of my life at Cattle Annie’s 8 years ago . . . he makes me laugh, he loves me no matter if I’m dressed up or in my Carhardt bibs going hunting with him, I love when I come home and we just talk without the TV on and we really listen to each other, I love that he is a “Feline and K9 Daddy” to my cats and dogs and I know I count on him in good and bad.
I am thankful for my Mom but not only is she my Mom, she is my BFF! She has always been there for me. Being a single Mom has not always been easy for her but I know she wouldn’t trade it for no amount of money in the world. I have wonderful memories of growing up, field trips she went on with me, letting me have cats and hamsters growing up, fixing me and my friends homemade French fries and taking us on Weenie roasts.
I am thankful for my Granny . . . she is a Breast and Ovarian Cancer Survivor. She is an inspiration to me! When the doctor told her she had Ovarian Cancer, she said it’s ok, as long as it’s not my kids or grandkids, I’m ok. I have wonderful memories of swinging on my swing set at her house, singing Up and Away in my Beautiful Balloon, her homemade sugar cookies at Valentine’s day, and me riding my Knight Rider 3 wheel in her basement.
I am thankful for my “4 legged kids” . . . especially my dog Nikki which was stole 2 years ago and by a miracle was found and returned to me.
I am thankful for my job…especially for my co-workers. We are like family! A lot of people are out of work and have been so I am thankful that I have a job to get up and go to every week.
I am thankful for my safety every day as I travel Interstate 81!
I am thankful for my health . . . very blessed!
I am thankful for my house . . .it may not be much to some people but its home to us!
I am thankful for the food that I have to eat each and every night!
But most of all . . . I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my freedom of speech to sit and write, What I am Thankful for!
Tara L. Hensley
. . .That the Republicans lost the election
I’m thankful for the citizens of Northern Va. who saved our state from the embarrassment of electing George Allen to the Senate and giving our electoral votes to Mitt Romney.