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Healing after tragedy

By SARAH BRADBURY

sarah@southwesttimes.com

Kyle Mullins, the 14-year-old boyfriend of the recently deceased Ginger Simpkins of Snowville, sat down with his mother, Elizabeth McNeil, to recall and share some of their memories and feelings on the Simpkins family as a whole. Ginger’s mother, Julie Simpkins, passed away on the same day as her daughter, after a co-infection of Strep A and Influenza B Friday, April 25.

Before Ginger and Julie passed, they had been spending time preparing their old family home for occupancy by Ginger’s boyfriend, Mullins, and his family. “She wanted him to have a ‘forever home,’” said McNeil, of Julie, the woman who Mullins described as a “second mother.” Mullins and McNeil were visibly overwhelmed by the gesture that was an answer to their prayers, as they were in need of permanent housing at the time.

Now, over two weeks after the passing of Julie and Ginger, Mullins and his family are preparing the home for their move-in. In a quiet country setting, Mullins’ “forever home” sits atop a hill overlooking breathtaking scenery. Mullins still communicates with Tim Simpkins, Ginger’s father and Julie’s husband. Tim acts as a mentor to Mullins, who said he is teaching him to farm. The home, which is in Mullins’ name, offers Mullins a prime location for a life of farming.

Mullins and McNeil said they have received an outpouring of support from most people, although there have been some who have shown negativity to them. The two participated in a candlelight vigil held in Ginger’s honor last Friday, May 2, which offered friends, family and community members a chance to grieve and share memories through music, pictures, prayer and other shared words. Mullins said that after finally having the privacy to grieve, he is trying to find peace with his new life without Ginger and her mom.

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