When Shaye Walker sees his presents under the Christmas tree, he thinks of his mom. When he was 3 years old, his mom, Ginger, was killed by a drunk driver. “Ginger was born on Christmas Eve in 1978,” says Nina, Ginger’s mother, who along with her husband, Gary, is raising their grandson. “Ginger was the best present we ever received.” The Walkers are a family of many traditions. On the birthday of each of their children, they tell them about the day they were born. Now on Ginger’s birthday, they tell Shaye about the day his mother was born.
“At the hospital, the nurse wrapped her in a Christmas stocking instead of a baby blanket. Some day we will give that stocking to Shaye,” Nina says. And Shaye plans to some day pass his mother’s stocking on to his children. The Walkers say that they’ve learned that holidays and other special occasions can never be the same but that remembering and honoring Ginger in unique ways has helped to enrich their time together.
“One year, we went to Hawaii for Christmas and, on her birthday, threw a lei into the ocean,” Gary says. “Another year, we rode a motorcycle to the top of a snow-capped mountain and watched the snow fall while we shared stories of her.”
Ginger was a nursing student at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif. Her memorial service was held on campus and it focused on the celebration of her life. And in honor of her, there is a Ginger Walker scholarship.
“Each year the university awards a scholarship, in her memory, to a student who is a single mother,” Gary explains. “And there is a bench with her named engraved on it at the university. Not only does this help others, but it helps Shaye to know that his mother loved him very much.”
“Shaye is our inspiration,” Nina says. “And every holiday and special occasion, we try to demonstrate the grace and dignity that was Ginger’s essence.”