When I was a little boy my mother contracted tuberculosis and back in those days folks with tuberculosis were quarantined and moved to places like Waverly Hills. This is what happened to my mother and my journey through the foster care system began. I stayed many places and went to many different schools. My father's sisters, Aunt Mary and Aunt Lee took me in for a while and looking back I know they did the best they could, after all they had families of their own, but most of the time I was in regular foster homes. I could tell some horror stories about some of these places but I'm not. You see I learned a lot from the bad places, but I learned more from the two good places I stayed and I will never forget the 2 women, Mary Swan and Margaret Gilpin that took me in and loved me not because they had to, but because they wanted to and their love was unconditional. In these two ladies I had and advocate.
I'll never forget waking up on Christmas morning as a child and everyone in the home I was staying in had Christmas presents under the tree, but me. I felt so alone and unwanted, but what I didn't know was that Margaret Gilpin had found out what had happened to me and she was out on Christmas morning opening up stores that were closed to find me gifts, with her very limited means. Back in those days the stores were neighborhood stores and she knew the store owners. Somehow my sweet Margaret, left her own children, Marty, Margie and Janet for a while on Christmas day, and went shopping for the least of these and managed to get this little boy Christmas gifts. When Margaret arrived at the place I was staying with my gifts I was moved, not because of the gifts but because I knew without a doubt that someone cared and what Margaret did on that Christmas day has been with me all of my life.
Shortly after the Christmas day event Margaret Gilpin took me into her home along with her son Marty and her two daughters Janet and Margie. It was then that I got to know the real Margaret Gilpin. Lord knows I wasn't the best little boy in the world and between me and Marty we got into everything, but Margaret, my sweet Margaret, would always find away to correct us and love us at the same time.
Margaret Gilpin and Mary Swan will never be on CNN or the front page of Time magazine as heroes, but they will always be heroes to me, and what these two ladies did for me didn't stop with me because I've done my best to pass it down to my children and they to theirs.
I know I'll never be able to reach the benchmark set by Margaret or Mary, but I know they've made me a better person for trying and I will continue to try and reach their high standards until I take my last breath.
Tonight as I write, Margaret Gilpin is near death and Hospice is being called in and it won't be long when my sweet Margaret is no longer with us and this is what I have to say to her. My sweet Margaret you've made this world a better place and I thank God that he allowed our paths to cross. Margaret, my sweet Margaret, I love you.
The video below is slide of Margaret Gilpin's life. I put it together and took it to the nursing home where she was staying prior to her taking this turn for the worse. This video has different music, due to copyright issues. Margaret, Marty, Janet, Margie and I watched it and laughed and cried together.