We called her “Mawmaw” (with an accent on both syllables) after the grandkids came along (“Mamaw” was an alternate pronunciation, emphasizing the first syllable), but she was always “Mom” to my wife, and “Mary” to her husband, Marty. Born in Globe, KY on May 18, 1928, she was raised as a young girl in a log cabin along with brothers and sisters (who eventually numbered 9) until moving to Portsmouth, OH sometime around age 9.
Her family was very poor; her father became blind early in his marriage and so her mother became the bread winner (what little bread there was) doing chores for other families until some of her children were old enough to be farmed out to be live-in housekeepers themselves in order to support the family. Interestingly enough, most all of those kids did quite well financially in life, no doubt spurred on by the poverty they experienced early on. Mawmaw certainly identified with Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” – in fact, she loved it, because it described her early life perfectly.
Her mother was a Christian unafraid of sharing her faith, passing out tracts and talking with folks whenever she had the opportunity. In fact, one of the reasons I married the woman I did was because of the legacy left by her mother, Florence, passed on to Mary, then on to my wife. I thought I was getting a prize. But I had no idea how great a prize until years later. [I chose well].
Mary Grace Thompson became a Glynn when she married Marty Glynn in Flatwoods, KY in 1949. She had two daughters, Marta and Monica. She was skilled in arithmetic and spelling, and knew how to work hard. In fact, there were few tasks she was afraid to try be they “men’s work” or not; she was fearless. She became an asset at the State Unemployment Office in Portsmouth, OH for many years.
But to know her . . . you must know SHE WAS FAST! I’m talking about moving like lightning. Once with a friend at a restaurant she returned to the table with a long train of toilet paper hanging from her clothing; she had gotten up from the toilet and pulled her panties up so fast the paper didn’t have time to fall to its intended place. On another occasion a friend came to visit their house, removed his jacket and sat down. But when he got up to leave his jacket was nowhere in sight. After investigation it was revealed that while he was there she scanned the house for clothes to wash, and his jacket was scooped up as part of the load.
She was funny, without trying to be. Her husband was the comedian, and she was often the Ed McMahon to his Johnny Carson. But some of the zany situations she would get into seem almost orchestrated (but they weren’t): (1) waiting for her husband to pick her up after work, but thinking the person she saw in the car at the curb was his brother, so she just waved at him; (2) scooping everything on the top of our dresser into her purse once when she was visiting us (this included my wallet), thereby causing me to cancel all my credit cards one Sunday morning and miss my job at the church since I assumed I must have lost it at a truck stop on a trip I had just returned from the night before.
The stories are endless.
She suffered a brain aneurysm in her late forties, breast cancer years later, then Guillian-Barre syndrome, and finally dementia began to take its toll over the last few years. She passed from this life into the next, peacefully, on the night of July 8, 2021.
She loved to sing alto at church, and was as faithful a member as her mother had been. She taught her girls Bible stories at home, and raised them to love God, honor their husbands, and care well for their children. They are both faithful followers today, and have trained up their children to be as well. The legacy continues.
There was always a pot of coffee brewing at her house, and what we always called a “tete-a-tete” (though we pronounced it tater tay) every night around the kitchen table with chips and drinks and lots of story telling. Everyone was always welcome. I dare say, a stranger off the street would have been welcomed in, too.
She was forever a romantic (her favorite was movie “Gone With the Wind”), but she understood the harsh realities of life, too, and rose to the occasion in her marriage (which was sometimes tumultuous, especially early on), her child rearing, and her job. Her generosity was great, giving financially as well as baking for and serving others in need. She never forgot the poverty she had come from, and vowed to shield her girls from that kind of life. Although, as she reminisced in the year 2000, she was “happy” in those early years of her life, too.
There is no way to appropriately summarize a life well lived. It’s probably not measured in the amount of tears you see cried when one passes, nor the work they might have done (books written, buildings constructed, rooms cleaned, etc.). But listen to the stories. Ah yes, the stories. And look at the people affected by that life. That is certainly a measurement that comes close to accuracy.
And that being the measure . . . Mary Grace Thompson Glynn’s life was indeed . . . rich.
Now the shackles of disease and frailty no longer hamper her; she can speak again, dance again, and entertain the angels along with her brothers and sisters who have departed.