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Meggan B. Wolfensberger

June 04, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Meggan Wolfensberger pulled out all the stops to make sure her last Christmas in 2010 with her children was special. Pictured, from left, are Alyssa Stouffer; Lilly Gullace, sitting in Meggan's lap; and Ashton Stouffer.
Submitted Photo

Today would have been Meggan Wolfensberger's 27th birthday, a birthday she shared with her only son and middle child, Ashton Stouffer, who is 4 today.

Instead of celebrating with cake, candles and balloons, Debbie Wolfensberger sits in her Virginia Avenue home, wondering how it came to be that her home is filled with many of her daughter's belongings.

Meggan died May 17, less than a year after being diagnosed with cervical cancer in August 2010. Her doctor had given her two years to live.

Cleaning out Meggan's rented Greencastle, Pa., house by the end of May was difficult.

"It's like wiping her memory off the face of the earth. It's very hard. It's too soon," Debbie said as she struggled to hold back tears.

Meggan was born at Washington County Hospital, with her name spelled with one "g" on her birth certificate. At some point, she started spelling her name with two g's and it stuck, Debbie said.

She grew up in the West End of Hagerstown and Williamsport, graduating from Williamsport High School in 2002. She had an older brother, Devon Wolfensberger, and a half brother, Derrick Wolfensberger, both of Hagerstown.

Her mother's longtime fiancé, Mark "Grizz" Kline, has been with the family since Meggan was 4 months old.

"She always turned to Grizz for everything," Debbie said.

Grizz said Meggan called him whenever she had something to be fixed.

After high school, Meggan worked as a waitress and at First Data and Citicorp, and took classes at Kaplan University. Her last job was in customer service at United Health Group in Frederick, Md.

Meggan's daughter, Alyssa Stouffer, was born in 2003. Meggan married Alyssa's father, David Stouffer, in June 2006, walked down the aisle by both Grizz and her father, David Wolfensberger of Hagerstown.

Son Ashton was born in 2007. The marriage ended after about two years.

Meggan's youngest, Lilly Gullace, turned 2 three days before her mother died.  

The children are being raised by their fathers.

Debbie said Alyssa is having the hardest time of the children adjusting to Meggan's death.

"They loved their mommy," Debbie said.

Meggan wanted to become a nurse, the result of helping her children through medical issues.

Alyssa was accidentally burned by hot water when she was just a year old. Meggan was running bath water for herself when Alyssa got into the tub and was burned by the hot water, Debbie said.

The toddler was flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and recovered well, with just a small scar to show for the ordeal.

Ashton was 6 months old when he was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital for more than a month. He had surgery to insert two plates in his head after his soft spot grew shut, Debbie said.

"I think that's why she wanted to get into nursing," Grizz said.

Debbie said Meggan was good about going to the doctor for regular checkups and annual pap smears, a test to sample cervical cells to check for abnormalities.

When Meggan started having a problem, though, she headed to her doctor and was referred to a specialist in Harrisburg, Pa., who diagnosed her with cervical cancer.

An aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy began, which made Meggan sick. The excruciating pain she had wasn't a good sign.

Toward the end, Meggan could communicate only by writing things down on a board. She used the board to indicate to whom she wanted certain possessions to go to, as well as to express concern for her mother, knowing that her death would be difficult for Debbie.

"She'd yell at me all the time not to cry," Debbie said.

Meggan's last two weeks she lived with Debbie and Grizz, but barely ate anything. She died three days after Lilly's second birthday.

Debbie remembers her daughter as a shopaholic who liked expensive things, enjoyed being the center of attention and a daredevil who liked to snowboard and drive her burgundy Scion fast.

"She drove like a bat out of hell," Debbie said.

Meggan liked to shop online and that was how she purchased her children's presents for their last Christmas together.

"She was a really good mom. She spoiled those kids to death. She knew it was going to be her last one, so she made it really special," Debbie said.

"She was generous to a fault with her friends," Grizz said.

Debbie and Grizz recall spending summer vacations and weekends camping with Devon and Meggan at Saunderosa Park in Mercersburg, Pa. The children also camped with their father at Green Ridge State Forest,  Debbie said.

"She'd never get out of that lake," Grizz said.

Growing up, Devon said he and his sister fought a lot, but her illness changed that.

"The cancer brought us closer together. Once that happened, we put our arguments behind us," said Devon, who added that his sister didn't like pain.

He taught her to shoot pool and remembers treading water for ages, waiting for her to take her turn jumping off the cliffs at Pecktonville.

Grizz and Meggan shared a love of cooking and he said she would ask for tips, but didn't want to share her own "secret" recipes. Meggan had the chance to see Paula Deen and Rachael Ray in person.

"I'll miss her beautiful smile. I'll tell you that — she was a beautiful, beautiful girl," Debbie said.

Debbie credits her family, including niece Amy Lowery, for helping her get through Meggan's illness and death.

"If it wouldn't have been for her, for Grizz and my family, I don't think I could have gotten through it," Debbie said.

"I tell you, I'm just physically, emotionally and mentally drained," said Grizz, who added they were on their feet for four hours greeting people at Meggan's viewing.

Despite her grief, Debbie is looking ahead.

"I hope Ashton has a baby on their birthday one day," she said.

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