Edna Cline McCluskey

Edna McCluskey

Edna Cline McCluskey, Born April 12, 1925, died Friday May 29, 2020 at Atria Nursing Home in Friendswood, Texas.

Edna was born in Marion, Illinois in a two bedroom Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail order home to Maude Helen Smiley and Elmer Cline. She had two little brothers Lyle and Larry Dale. Larry Dale died as an infant and Lyle died February 10th 2018.  Grandma never knew he passed away.  The Sears, Roebuck and Co. home in Marion was lost during the depression but was later repurchased by the family. My mother, Sherrie was also born there. Grandma lived in this home for many years after having divorced her second husband, Gene, more on him later. My parents and my brother sold the home in 2018. 

Edna met her first husband John Allen McCluskey at a high school football game in Marion, Illinois. Maude and Elmer must have liked John because before Edna finished High School they put her on a train to Miami to marry him.  My sister found among Grandma’s things love letters from John to Edna that made her and her daughters cry.  I haven’t read them yet, but I am sure when I do I will blubber.  I know Grandma loved her John as much as I love mine.  (My husband’s name is John and so is my brother and brother in law. We think John’s are a good lot!) One of the last conversations I had with my Grandma before she lost her memory and recognition of me as her granddaughter was about the day she lost her John. She told me of going to the hospital and being ushered away from him by hospital staff for some reason. It wasn’t clear to me what the distraction was. She said she felt he was calling to her from across the room and she didn’t go to him. She regretted those missed moments.

Edna finished her High School education while the family, including our mother, Sherrie Diane, was living in Wiesbaden, Germany. They were stationed there during my mom’s teen years. John was in the Airforce. He passed away at 42 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Mom(Sherrie) says Grandma also attended John A. Logan Community College and Southern Illinois University. Edna lived in Illinois, Florida, Germany, Kansas and California. She worked at Harris Company Department store during the Holidays when she lived in San Bernardino California and was a receptionist and secretary at Southern Illinois Power Cooperative until she retired.

Grandma’s second (and third) husband was named Eugene “Gene” Hilliard. Grandma worked with and was friends with Gene’s first wife who died of cancer. Gene and Edna were both lonely and after a time dated and married. Their relationship had its challenges, but I know she loved him long after their second divorce. I’ll explain how I know this but I am warning you ahead of time the set-up is lengthy.  Grandma visited usually twice per year, during Christmas and during July 4th week because she buried her John on his birthday, July 4th 1965.  During summer visits, she would endure family road-trips with rambunctious grandchildren, dogs, cats and sleeping in tents just to be with us. I remember she was on the camp out when my brother John caught his first fish! During Christmas visits, we stayed around home. When we lived in Texas we would pick her up from Hobby airport. She would fly in on Ozark airlines before it merged with TWA and then American Airlines.  The whole family would go to meet her at the gate.  I have no idea why my parents did this because we behaved terribly while we waited for her plane.  Once my bother got a quarter stuck up his nose while we waited.  I guess maybe grandma liked to see us all waiting for her when she stepped of the plane.  I miss that about air travel. As we all got older and my sister, Theresa moved into her own home we built a tradition around stopping by Theresa’s house for nachos and Gin & Tonics before we headed to mom and dad’s place. After dinner, we would all put on our brand-new Dillard’s nightgowns. Grandma always brought presents. Mom, Grandma and my sisters and I would go off to one of the bedrooms, pile on one of the beds and play the Ouija board because when you played with grandma the planchette actually moved.  It never moved any other time I played with that thing.  We did this for years, until my dad discarded the game. He told us it was evil and in hindsight I do agree with my dad that one should never play around with summoning any spirit that isn’t the Holy Spirit. When it was Grandma’s turn to ask the Ouija board a question, though they were long divorced, she always asked it, “does Gene really and truly love me.” Like clockwork that planchette would slowly slide to “Yes.”

Our Grandma was a dignified proper matriarch in a family full of, well, less dignified naturalized Texan “skinflints.” I don’t know what a skinflint is, but using context clues it describes a charming young grandson named after one’s late husband who deliberately says provocative things to elicit a reaction from his grandma. I witnessed some of these deliberate provocations and one in particular comes to mind, but I am going to have to leave you, dear reader, in the dark.  My grandma would blush from Heaven if I wrote it and most of my family probably knows the story already.  Out of curiosity while writing this biography, I looked up the word skinflint and I have determined that my grandma also never knew what it meant.

Edna loved pink. Pink dresses, pajamas, nail polish and lipstick. When you received a gift from grandma, you always knew it would come in a shade of pink and was most probably a nightgown.  When it came to lip-color, she was partial to a shade best described as Pepto-Bismol pink. I am sure Revlon had another name for it, but it escapes my memory now. If you were her son-in-law or grandson, you received a quality men’s dress shirt from Dillard’s, but it was not pink.

Grandma Edna always wore pantyhose and a girdle even if she was picnicking in Garner State Park on a hot Texas summer day.  Grandma warned all of us about the pitfalls of excessive alcohol consumption. On this same trip to Garner state park she repeatedly finished off my brother’s lone star beer to “save him from drinking it”. You may think I jest, but I assure you she was serious as a heart attack. 

When I was a teenager, Edna often gave me career advice. She would say, “Wouldn’t you like to be a teacher or a nurse?” She was more successful with my sisters’ Rachel and Theresa, both are nurses. I have recently learned that choosing this vocation earns one the endearment “my sweet angel.”  Still, I think she was okay with my chosen profession because she paid my tuition many semesters at University of Texas College of Engineering. Grandma also thought young ladies should wear dresses and put on our face, especially if a gentleman was coming to visit. I frustrated her in this regard as well.

Like many people who lived through the depression, Edna, knew how to stretch her money.  She was the antithesis of the instant gratification generation. By way of example, if you bought grandma something new like a purse or a piece of clothing for Christmas you could be pretty certain that by the next Christmas she still would not have used it or worn it.  This wasn’t because she did not like it. On the contrary, she would treasure it and would let you know she was saving it for just the right occasion. Despite being frugal, Edna was no skinflint! She was a modest woman with a modest income, but she was generous. On our birthday, we always received a prompt birthday card with a crisp Andrew Jackson. Not only did my grandma support my engineering education but she also provided tuition to my brother. Grandma would send my parents a check every year to subsidize Santa and another in the fall to provide new school clothes. She was also known to give a ne’re-do-well neighbor twenty bucks upon request.    

Grandma loved Marion. When it became clear that Grandma could not manage her affairs alone anymore, my parents picked her up for an extended “visit.” She is finally returning.  Her home was one of the last things she forgot. Even when she would ask us “Are you my ken?” she would still tell us where she was from and that she was going back soon. She was a handful for my parents as anyone who has cared for a loved one with dementia knows. Dad told me how she would try to escape in the middle of the night with a “rucksack” which was essentially a shirt knotted into a satchel filled with random belongings.  She really wanted to go home to Marion. Thankfully my dad, George, was on guard duty so Grandma never became an Amber alert. She liked to watch Bill O’Reilly. She would tell me “I kinda like him” while pointing at the Fox news Anchor.  This worked out well because that was pretty much all that my Dad watched. 

Grandma liked to accompany my mom or sister to the grocery market. If you let her she would pick up a box of tissues and a head of lettuce every day. Grandma always wanted a salad with dinner and she had tissues in her brassiere strap for as long as I can remember.  On one occasion, she was insistent that my sister, Rachel, take her to Kroger for sweet potato pie. Rachel didn’t want to go and said quite sincerely “we don’t have sweet potato pie in Texas.” Grandma was vindicated when my sister relented and Kroger did in fact have sweet potato pie. It was also in these years when Grandma became known as the family tweezer thief. I once retrieved my favorite pair from the pocket of her bathrobe. When I told my mother, she said “yeah, you have to hide them.”

Edna understood the value of prayer. She prayed for us often and would call me when I was away at college to let me know when I could watch Bill Graham just in case I had not yet been saved. She wanted to have her bases covered. I am grateful to have been under her intercessory prayer protection. We all are. My brother, John says he is probably here today because of her prayers. There is a Jennifer Nettles song with lyrics which say “Every sinner has a future, every saint has a past.”  I would add to this thought every saved sinner has a Grandma Edna who prayed fervently for them. I can remember many conversations about tribulation in our family when mom would say, “I will call your Grandma for prayer” like she had the hotline to God.  I haven’t any doubt that Grandma’s prayers were always heard because God’s will no matter how the situation played out always made our family and faith stronger.  

Our sweet Edna is survived by her daughter Sherrie Diane Sculley, her grandchildren Theresa Anne Conyer, John Kevin Sculley, Jennifer Leigh Via and Rachel Kathleen Jones. Edna also leaves behind twelve great grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren. 

The Family will received guests from 2-3:00pm on Friday July 24, 2020 with 3:00 pm Memorial Services to follow at Carnes Funeral Home  - Texas City.