CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Libby McGinn enjoyed a carefree childhood in a bustling lumber town in Alabama. She went to nursing school, fulfilling a dream she nurtured for as long as she could remember.
As a Navy nurse, she met her husband, a patient. In later years, she nursed him as Alzheimer's disease ravaged his brain.
She settled in Charleston to be near her daughter. At 94, the bulk of her life is behind her. But don't count her out. She lives independently and does volunteer work for hospice, Manna Meals and her church.
Her mind betrays no hint of her age. Whatever more time God grants her, she intends to make the most of every precious minute.
"I grew up in Alabama -- Elrod, a short distance from Tuscaloosa. I graduated from Tuckaloosa County High School. I had one brother. My father was in charge of the planing mill for the lumber company. Lumber was big business back then, and there were a lot of upscale people.
"We had a lot of freedom to run and play, and there were a lot of children in that lumber town. We didn't have a lot of toys, but we enjoyed hiking and going into the woods. There was no danger of anything then. I spent my summers in south Alabama with my cousins in Evergreen.
"I graduated from high school in '37 and went right into nursing training. I always wanted to be a nurse. I think it's because my mother wanted to be a nurse but wasn't able to. She had to go to work.
"I went to nursing school in Birmingham at St. Vincent's Hospital. Nursing was like aide's work today. We did the whole bit of care, baths, all the personal needs of the patient.
"We had a nurses' dorm, two to a room. It was a three-year program. The Sisters of Charity were in charge of the hospital. They wore those habits with big cones on their heads. They had rosaries and keys hanging down from their habits. When we heard those keys, we knew we had to get straight.
"Sister Alphonso was the supervisor, and her favorite expression was, 'Tell me who you go with, and I will tell you who you are.' She was very strict about that.
"If you were not neat and clean, you were sent back to quarters to improve your looks. That didn't happen very often because our instructors always told us exactly how we should dress.
"When I nursed, we wore white uniforms and white caps. I still have the cap, but it has yellowed somewhat. Back then, you could identify a nurse by her uniform. Now, in those two-piece scrub suits, you aren't sure who they are.
"I was perfectly happy in nursing school. We had a wonderful instructress, a civilian. We were taught like licensed practical nurses are today. Bedpans were a big part of our work. They didn't put catheters in right away like they do today.
"The first patient I had after training, I had to give her a bath. She was a big heavyset lady who'd had a stroke. That was quite a challenge.
"When I was a senior, we had a bus accident, and there were a lot of people coming in to the emergency room, and I was put in charge of the delivery area while the nurses were taking care of the accident victims. As students, they let us spread our wings.
"Polio was rampant then. We had a 16-year-old boy in an iron lung, and I took care of him the whole time he was in the hospital. He later died. He developed a brain tumor. I can see that boy right now. He had such a good attitude.