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Cribbage, anyone?

William Packard, who lived with his mother's rejection in life, won his last game of cards

William Packard, who lived with his mother's rejection in life, won his last game of cards

July 08, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about William D. Packard, who died July 1 at the age of 82. His obituary appeared in the July 3 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

According to his only daughter, William D. Packard's life was a mixture of angst and reconciliation.

"When daddy was born, his mother didn't want him," Ginger Brindley said. "He lived with that all of his life until her 100th birthday, when they reconciled."

That occasion was marked by an article in a Maine newspaper in 1989, accompanied by a picture showing William kissing Ruby Packard's cheek - and her looking like she was enjoying it.

Ginger wasn't faulting her grandmother, merely stating what she said was a fact of life.

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"Dad didn't get long pants because his mother wanted to buy silverware," Ginger said as an example of Ruby's hard feelings for her second son.

Ginger said that because of her father's feelings of rejection, he grew up never really grasping the male-female relationships in his life.

William, who died July 1 at his daughter's Hagerstown home, served in World War II. He was 82 and was survived by three sisters and a brother.

A single mother for many years, Ruby's first son, Fred, was killed in World War II.

"I had been a single parent for eight years in Massachusetts when I met my (current) husband and we moved to Hagerstown in 1984," Ginger said. Ginger took the past year off to care for her father.

Ginger said her mother and father were married for 25 years before they divorced. He remarried, then divorced again. When Ginger's mother died in 1994, there was another reconciliation in her father's life.

"My dad was on one side of her bed and my stepfather was on the other," Ginger said tearfully. "He'd always hoped they'd get back together."

Throughout her childhood, Ginger said, she and her father were inseparable.

"He took care of me ... we went everywhere together," she said.

Her parents' divorce came when she was 16, a particularly difficult time for such an upheaval in her life. But they stayed close, until Ginger remarried in 1984.

"My dad didn't come to my wedding," Ginger said. But over the past 23 years, father and daughter rebuilt their relationship.

"I took the first step," Ginger said.

Six years ago, a New England doctor told William that he no longer could live alone. He came to Hagerstown and moved into Ginger's youngest son Will's room for six months while the Brindleys' home was remodeled to accommodate her father.

In those six years, William came to appreciate the reconciliation with his family. At the dinner table, everyone would say what they were thankful for, and William always said he was thankful for family.

"We wanted him here," Ginger said. "Dad was transformed in those last six years."

Part of that was a direct result of his relationship with the Rev. John Miller, who helped William reconcile with his faith. And in turn, William taught John how to play cribbage.

Four years ago, William tried to encourage local cribbage players, expert and novice, to form a cribbage league in Washington County, but that didn't pan out.

In an interview four years ago, William said he loved the speed of cribbage. He was a member of the American Cribbage Congress and a life master cribbage player.

A British game invented in 1635, players are armed with a regular deck of 52 playing cards, a cribbage board and a set of pegs that are moved along a dual track of holes in a wooden board to keep score.

"My husband, Carl, took dad to Baltimore every Wednesday night so he could play cribbage," Ginger said.

That relationship became very strong over the years, considering its shaky start back in 1984. William also was close to his four grandchildren - Aimee Kastelein, Greg Stillman Jr., June and Will Brindley.

"Dad learned unconditional love here - we built that bridge," Ginger said.

As it turned out, June had the last cribbage game with her grandfather just a few days before his death. And he won.

"At the memorial service, June said she gave dad a lot of grace in that last game," Ginger said.

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