Monday, 19 August 2013

Lessons from a Hero

Many of you will recognize the name of John Glenn.  He is now 90 years old.   For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth.

What few know is that this three-sport varsity athlete, Marine fighter pilot, test-pilot ace, and future astronaut was an exemplary husband.  As CNN reporter Bob Greene revealed recently things were not always easy in the Glenn household.  John married

Annie Castor over 70 years ago.  Annie was bright, caring, talented, and generous of spirit. But she could talk only with the most excruciating difficulty. It haunted her.

Her stuttering was so severe that it was categorized as an "85%" disability -- 85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out. When she tried to recite a poem in elementary school, she was laughed at. She was not able to speak on the telephone. She could not have a regular conversation with a friend.  She faced constant ridicule. In department stores, she would wander unfamiliar aisles trying to find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to ask the salesclerks for help. In taxis, she would have to write requests to the driver, because she couldn't speak the destination out loud. In restaurants, she would point to the items on the menu.

Through it all, John Glenn loved her.
John & Annie
At age 52 Annie found a doctor in Virginia who cured her.  The miracle she and John had always waited for at last, as miracles will do, arrived. At age 53, she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts. On the first day John heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to offer a prayer of gratitude.
This is a heartwarming story of a covenant marriage.  They understood what their vows meant when they acknowledged that they would stand by one another “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.”

How often do we grumble when our partner fails to meet our expectations?  How often do we allow little annoyances to color the view of our marriage? 

In 1954 Irving Berlin wrote a song entitled “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”  It suggested that “when we are weary and we can’t sleep we should count our blessings instead of sheep and that we’d fall asleep counting our blessings.”  Corny?  Perhaps,  but how much happier would we be if we focused on the good and how we have been blessed.

In an era when real heroes are scarce – thank you John and Annie Glenn.


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