June 29, 2021

HOW GLENN SAVED MY LIFE

This is one of the few photos I have of me with my brother Glenn.  It was made the summer I was 10 and he was 30 in the front yard of our house on the hill. By this time he had come home from the Pacific, married Katie and was considering his future career. He’d been drafted before college was possible. Although he really wanted to be a doctor, he’d felt too old to go to college and medical school.  By the year after this photo, he would compromise by enrolling at the John A. Gupton School of Mortuary Science in Nashville.  

He was really crazy about me when I was born, and during the four years he was away in the Army, I loved getting his letters and gifts.  When he came home, we had to get reacquainted.  After he settled into the log house where he’d grown up, I enjoyed going to visit.  He liked to cook fancy meals for me and would let me help him in the kitchen. I liked to peruse his books and magazines, too.

Since his father had died so young, Glenn said Mother and his Grandmother Ensminger were overprotective.  They always worried that he would get hurt.  He advocated for me to have a more “normal” childhood. My parents had that same overprotective mindset.

A few years later, he took a job at a funeral home in Clinton, Kentucky, and he and Katie moved there. They had been married about five years, and she had just gotten pregnant.  Their daughter Emily was born in August, 1952.  The following August, my father died.

As I began thinking about my college plans, I was eager to leave Athens. I longed to live in a city and Nashville was at the top of my list.  I was class valedictorian and was offered a good scholarship to Vanderbilt.  It seemed like my dream was coming true!

By that time, Glenn and family had moved to Gallatin, Tennessee.  Katie was terribly homesick for Athens. And Mother was beginning to think she couldn’t bear for me to go away to college. Glenn decided to act.  He took a job at an Athens funeral home and they moved back to Athens.  He told me that I was not to worry—he would take care of Mother.  She had asked me to stay home one more year and go to the local college, Tennessee Wesleyan.  She promised I could go away to school after that. I agreed—and Glenn said he would see that I did get to go away.

Still with my heart set on Nashville, I applied to Lipscomb.  It was a bit unnerving to enter there as a sophomore, but I was excited.  Glenn said he was going to take me to move in the dorm and he did.  Eventually Mother was happy for me and enjoyed visiting me in Nashville and hosting my friends in Athens. However, if Glenn had not supported me as he did, I might never have left Athens.  

I was heartbroken when he died after surgery for a cerebral hemorrhage just a few months after I graduated from Lipscomb.  He was not quite 40 years old.  I hope he knew how much I loved him and appreciated his looking out for his little sister so well.

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