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. Read more »