After Onward Christian Soldiers…

hymns_62Recently some friends and I got to talking about hymns we sang as children — in particularly, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”  Despite finding ourselves in a much different place spiritually than our early church days, we all agreed many traditional church songs hold special memories.

Stacey spent her childhood virtually without supervision. “We were feral,” she said. ” We were the wild children on our street.” When her parents divorced, her mother worked and left Stacey and her siblings to fend for themselves.  A number of years ago, Stacey went home and visited with some of her former neighbors. “I learned many on the street were deeply concerned for our safety.”

As a child, Stacey found her “home” in church. For one thing, her Baptist church offered snacks and often what she ate at church was all had to eat for the day. Stacey grew to love the sense of community she felt at church — a place where people cared for her and nurtured her. When she was old enough, Stacey joined the choir and sang her heart out. The words of the hymns she sang on Sunday mornings lodged deep in her brain. She particularly remembers facing the congregation and singing the lyrics to “Onward Christian Soldier” with great pride. She felt part of something, connected to others, fully supported and cared for.

Stacey and I could not have more different backgrounds.

My parents, Watson and Mary, were too strict, too strong and much-too-present for me to go wild. They structured my days, beginning to end. We rose to Dad’s wake up call and shared breakfast around the small round oak table in the kitchen. We gathered for Bible reading (each person reading two verses each until one or two chapters were completed) and prayers in the music room every day before school. As a minister and a teacher, I could not get away from his presence.

The summer of my 10th year, I was sitting in church one hot Wednesday evening and thinking how much I wanted to be wild. I longed to be anywhere but where I was — sitting on a hard wooden pew, staring out the open window onto the lawn of the house next to the church. The setting sun streamed through the trees and created lovely shadows on the grass. I heard the neighbor kids playing in the nearby park.  I felt real life — the giggling, running about, shouting and playing hard life — resided outside my small church.

Just about the only thing I liked inside church were the hymns. I listened to Mama play with passion the requested songs. I sang along from memory. We Thorntons had very little need of the hymnal because we knew the lyrics by heart. The words flowed with ease and they connected me on some deep level with the men and women in the pews around me.

My personal belief had not yet become an issue with me.  All I knew was that singing “Rescue the Perishing,” “Count Your Many Blessings,” “Onward Christian Soldiers” and many other songs that represented the faith of my parents helped lift my spirits, soothe my anger and spoke to my soul on some level.

imagesI left home for college when I was 17.  There, a boyfriend introduced me to Johnny Got His Gun and Malcom X. I began to question blind patriotism and American Christianity. As more and more male students dropped out, were drafted or signed up for the Vietnam war, I grew more and more uncomfortable seeing the American flag and the Christian flag together on the same podium — especially in church.

Stacey moved away from traditional organized Christianity, as well. Despite going to seminary and earning an M.Div.,  she does not preach nor does she attend  an organized church.  She’s found her place and peace in Wisdom theology and contemplative prayer. Stacey structures her life around meditation. She and her partner open their home to people in need of quiet and rest. They offer retreats, courses and counseling to those in search of inner healing.

Stacey’s a far cry from that feral child who roamed the streets. And me? The girl raised in church who went  in search of living wild and outside? I’m quieter now.  Stacey and I are both discovering more and more about living faith that nurtures hope and love.

I struggle to live like Jesus did. At time I wish I were more like Stacey with her peaceful aura and kind spirit.

Onward-Christian-Soldiers-Edited-900However  I know she, too, has her personal struggles. We both continue to take steps towards peace, not war, to pursue love not engage in battles.

I feel we’re part of a growing corp of enlisted people of faith who are marching onward, just not to war. 

 

Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before

Onward then, ye people
Join our happy throng
Blend with ours your voices
In our triumph song

Christ the royal master
Leads against the foe
Forward into battle
See His banners go

Crowns and Thrones may perish
Kingdoms rise and wane
But the cross of Jesus
Constant will remain

 

 

My View in Cuenca

A beautiful morning here at 8,300 ft in the Andes. Brilliant blue skies dotted with pure white marshmallow clouds provide a backdrop to my landlady’s towering and quite laden avocado tree. Large hummingbirds flit between their feeder to the right and the moira bush to the left. And I see no evidence of any shortage of bees here in Cuenca.

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Our back patio butts up to Josefina’s lovely orchard

Their existence may be in danger in the US, but down here, they seem healthy, happy and loaded with bzzzz.

Margarita, my friend and weekly cleaning lady, arrived just a little bit ago.  She came in bearing a small bag of rolls, fresh from the panaderia.  She gave me two.  David received just one.  “Shhhhh, don’t tell,” she communicates, flashing a huge grin as she heads to the kitchen to get her coffee.

A bright yellow/orange tablecloth hangs on the line outside my window.  Not handmade, but still beautiful, the fringed cloth has multi-width stripes of vibrant purples, greens, blues and reds. The weaving is a traditional Ecuadorean design.  I had wanted to cut the cloth up to use for curtains, but Margarita would have none of that. “No, no, no,” she insisted some weeks ago.  She speaks no English, but she looked like she wanted to say, “It’s a tablecloth, dammit!”

One thing I’ve gathered in my limited time here is that most everything and everyone has its place. People have roles. Things have a purpose. And one shouldn’t try to mix them up.

Getting curtains made for our home, for example.

My former landlady, Susana, has taken me to several fabric stores to select curtain material.  At one shop, I found a fabric and design I loved and wanted to purchase it for the living room.  But they wouldn’t sell it to me because it is not intended for curtain material. It is for muebles. Furniture. Now, I’m a person that uses what I like for decorating. Corrugated cardboard and brass tacks served as wainscoting in my dining room in Arkansas. Brown craft paper has papered many a wall of mine with amazing effects. I had painted concrete floors before it was cool.

So, when I saw this material, I knew it would work. But I couldn’t buy it because Susana and the sales clerk knew I wanted it for cortinas and this was NOT cortina material.

Our windows remain curtainless.

The same for my bright colorful tablecloth. It is fated to serve one purpose and one purpose only–covering our mesa.  Do I dare tell Margarita I’m thinking of buying two more tablecloths to sew together for a bedspread?

This single purpose idea isn’t totally consistent, however.  The other side of the coin is to make do.  Just make things “good enough”, as my friend Jody says.

When we first moved into our current home we had a few plants in the front of the house that proved impossible for our dog to ignore.  Within a week or so, the succulents had been unearthed and left for dead. Josefina (our new landlady and next door neighbor) noticed the bald spot in the garden and offered me something to cover up the blight to prevent more digging from our sweet Punky.

Good idea, I thought. “Thanks”, I said.

imagesJosefina brought over a wooden toilet seat lid, with fake-brass fittings. She speaks no English but her look implied, “That should do it.”  I plopped it into place in plain view of our front door and every guest who visits and there the toilet lid sat for a few weeks until new potted plants could be arranged. It remains out there somewhere. I think I hid it behind my towering rose bush.

Now, I imagine in this city of anywhere from 400,000 to 600,000 (who really knows) there are people who wouldn’t dream of using  toilet seat covers in their front lawn to protect their gardens.  There are the rich who live in enclaves behind tall pristine walls and iron gates. Their shrub and tree-lined streets absorb the incessant barks of neurotic dogs confined to tiny spaces, block the smells of belching diesel buses as well as the tone down the bombardment of car alarms. These people live in a more perfect world. No bald spots in their lawns. They have full-time gardeners who tend to the gardens and mini-paradises that surround the family estates.  Not a potty lid to be found.

Friend Jody and I talked not too long ago about the “good enough” attitude that seems perfectly acceptable in our new city.  We got to laughing at the ways we see it around us every day.  For me, a visit to my hair salon brought me face to face with “that’ll do.” I went to the bathroom and was met with one of those beauty shots that appear in every salon in the world.  A stunning woman, a kick-ass hair style and a body that won’t quit.  The pièce de résistance was that my stylist had hung the poster up with what looked like duct tape.  Good enough, indeed.

I experience less pretense here. People are people. It’s hard to put on airs when a toilet lid sits in your front yard. Or a poster promising unlimited beauty is held in place by bulky grey tape.

51967999_Alt01And one more thing.  Next to almost every commode in this city stands a covered wastebasket. A silent reminder that everyone has crap in their lives and we just have to deal with it.

Toss, not flush.  It’s a great equalizer as far as I’m concerned.

Z: It’s All about Mary/ #a-to-z challenge/ Zee End

We’ve reached zee end of my April posts on Mary Scott Gash Thornton.

For those who have read the daily blogs, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Your responses have made me smile, tear up and thank God for having people in my life like Mary and like you.

Even if you’ve just read one or two, I thank you, too.

For me this exercise has brought back so many wonderful memories of people, places and things that, though centered on Mary, have enriched my life immensely.

Much more can be said about this short, round, rosy-cheeked woman. She had a heart the size of Greenland and brought music and laughter to the lives of so many.

Mary continues to teach  me.  When she was alive and mothering me, I tended not to listen a lot.  Examining her life over the past 30 days I have seen more clearly who she was and what she has meant to me. And to others.

My spirits have improved over the past four weeks. I do believe I’ve fussed less at David, groused fewer times at Katherine, felt less angst, sang more, cried less (except for those of remembrance and love) and generally behaved like a better human being.

Mary continues to have her influence on my life.

My prayer is that one day my daughter will have a fraction of the good things to say or write or remember about me.

Mama will never be remembered in history. Her passing left no mark on our times. But her well-lived life, her laughing spirit, her music-filled days have enriched mine immensely.

Mary Scott Gash Thornton — a woman of exceptional talent, a quiet person who was loud and clear about what she believed and whom she loved, a mom who made every one of her children feel like the most loved person in the world and a wife who loved her husband until her last breath.

I wish you could have known her.  But I suppose by now you do, at least a little.

Thank you again for being with me for the A-to-Z Challenge…It’s All about Mary.

 

U: It’s All about Mary/#a-to-z challenge/ Unforgettable

To those who knew her and loved her, Mary is most certainly unforgettable.

I wonder if, in my posts about her, I have glorified my 5’1″ mama. Made her bigger than life.

I hope not. I think not.

Warts and all, she impacted the lives of many in a positive, laughter-filled way.

A number of friends of mine have no such positive memories of their mothers or of their childhoods. I am amazed and impressed with the women they’ve become despite dealing with some pretty horrible childhood experiences.

My gratitude for being blessed with Mary’s spirit of joy, love and kindness will never go away.

On my good days as a mother, I am thankful for the example she gave me.

On the days I fail as a mother, I sometimes think “What would Mary do?”

Well, Mary would honest.  Forthright. Firm, as needed. And when occasion called for it, apologetic.

Here are a number of  ways that Mary Scott Gash Thornton is unforgettable to me:

  1. How she loved Watson and stood by her man no matter what. I never heard her disparage him or not support him.  Any negative things she may have thought was expressed to him in private or in Japanese (which absolutely drove me crazy!)
  2. The way her voice lit up when heard me was on the phone. She made me feel like I was her favorite. I wasn’t. But she had a way of making each of us feel that way.
  3. Her commitment to keep in touch with friends, family and all those missionaries spread out around the world.  This in an age before email and Skype. Long distance phone calls were rarely used.  Letter writing was her mode of communication.
  4. Her love of reading. The Bible mostly. But also literature. She kept a log of the many books she read in her later years. It’s a treasure.
  5. Mama’s scrapbooks that could have been a goldmine for cultural anthropologists.
  6. She was the real thing. No pretense. I felt a sense of wholeness when i looked at her. She was who she was.
  7. Young people enjoyed her.  Dad and Mom had “adopted” a dozen or so Japanese students at Southern Illinois University.  The young people brought many friends with them week after week to my parent’s home for dinner, Bible study and conversation.
  8. Mama had a soft spot for dogs.  She didn’t let on about it but many a morning I overheard her talking to my dog(s) while she scrambled an egg or two for them.  “Don’t tell Watson,” I heard her say to my poodle, Edwin as she served him a hot breakfast.  Later, I heard my dad say much the same to Sir Edwin. So I guess they did have secrets.
  9. 220px-US_67_south_of_US_136
    Our long and winding road four-hour road trip that somehow became eight.

    Mom’s sense of direction was terrible.  Terrible.  Mine isn’t much better so put the two of us together in a car without a map and it becomes a Laurel and Hardy show. One particular drive from Greenfield to Carterville takes four hours at the most for any of our family members.  It took us eight.  “Why is it taking us so long?” Mom asked before she burst out laughing.  A mystery to this day.

 

All families have rich and ridiculous memories.

Most of mine revolve around my unforgettable, unabashedly reall mama.

 

R: It’s All about Mary/#a-to-z challenge/ Relatives and runions

 

When Mary’s kids get together the noise volume goes up considerably.  Add to that the din of dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren laughing and talking over the sound of a football or basketball game on TV and you have the makings of a headache. Not an intolerable one, but a headache nonetheless.

When mom was alive, her children made the trip home at least once or twice a year. Seldom did just one family arrive. If not all, at least a majority of the siblings arrived pulled into our driveway in cars packed to the room. The children would pour out of the vehicles and bring havoc with them.

It was great havoc.

Dad and Mom loved to have the family home. The dining room table was extended, card tables set up on the porch and in the music room and TV room. We put fresh sheets on all the beds and made up pallets on the enclosed front porch for the little ones. Extra bags of groceries found their way into the pantry and cooking began in earnest in the kitchen. Penuche-iced cakes, flaky fruit pies, golden brown homemade bread and rolls. Big pots of spaghetti or chop suey– and most definitely mashed potatoes. The Thornton grew up on carbs and carbs they loved! Every breakfast had biscuits and gravy. What better way to start the day?

When I was in high school, just three of us remained at home. Life at 601 Sycamore Street was quiet.  Dad, Mom and I.  We missed the clamor–at least I did.  Mom may have been a bit relieved by that time to be rid of ruckus of such a lively crowd.  I imagine she enjoyed the peace and her ability to read and play without interruption.

But with news of the arrival of family, dad and mom shifted into a higher gear. Cleaning, moving, advance cooking for mom. Mowing and fix-it projects for dad. One year, Watson decided to add an extra bathroom in the house. One tub, sink and toilet could no longer service 23 people at one time.

Dad would descend to his workroom in the basement and spend hours cutting and sanding blocks of wood for visiting grand kids. They needed something to play with and what better than good old-fashioned blocks. And then there was the Christmas he made box hockey for the young ones. Tournaments held on the front porch kept kids occupied for hours, hitting sticks, cheering and raising a ruckus.

 

Mary has been gone for 30 years. Three decades. Yet to me she feels alive when we get together.

She’s in the kitchen rubbing shoulders with her grandsons who have now become the experts on making both biscuits and gravy.  She’s in the living room beaming with pride hearing her granddaughters play the piano. She’s part of the non-stop conversations and outbursts of laughter as her children and grandchildren remain seated at the table long after the food and dishes have been removed.

We’re getting older now. Ruth is 85 and her twin, Alice has passed. Ruth talks of how much she misses her other half. Charles lives in Alaska as does Kate. They get together from time to time. Elsie died a few years ago and we grieve her absence. Her kids are great at getting together. Martha in California has been diagnosed with a very rare autoimmune disease. Her traveling is limited.  Sam remains in Greenfield. John left us before mom died and we miss him still. Kate is the one that does the most to keep in touch with all.  She travels each year to most if not all siblings. I’m in Ecuador and feel the distance almost daily.  This is where we are supposed to be and want to be but I feel the tug to be with family.

I miss the way we used to be. The grandkids now are stepping up and creating those family-packed, laughter-filled memories.

Mom would love to see it. The energy and love that flows when the Marquess people gather in Kentucky for riotous Thanksgivings, kids weddings or weekend fishing trips. She’d sit in on the stimulating conversations held by the Caldwells –where 10-year olds have been overhead discussing string and chaos theory. The boys who have grown into fine men bring their families together and celebrate life with their parents. Mary would be thrilled to hear her great granddaughters play the piano with such skill.  She’d smile at all the babies but she might prefer not to hold them. She’s done all that.

Dad took such joy in his growing family. He would sit silently at the table and smile from ear to ear, listening to his children joke with mama.  He said he was blessed with such a family.

By now, many of the younger generations can’t remember mom or dad. They have heard only stories. But let me tell you, those stories are repeated often and with great love.

M: It’s All about Mary/#a-to-z challenge/ Meals and a Taste of Becoming an Adult

When she wasn’t cooking for the family she was fixing something for Sunday guests. And at least once a year Mom joined forces with Mrs. Yarbrough to serve some of their most-asked-for dishes at the yearly PTA fundraiser.

Whether those two were feeding a table of 12 for Sunday dinners or 75 paying guests at the annual smorgasbord, Mary and Dorothy felt at ease in the kitchen. And quantity never seemed to be an object.

Mom grought her chop suey and Dorothy came bearing buttery homemade crescent rolls and big pans of Swedish meatballs. Other mothers in the community added their offerings to the serving tables: jello salads with fruit cocktail (served on leaves of iceberg lettuce and topped with salad dressing). Mounds of creamy mashed potatoes sat next to filled-to-the-brim bowls of rich brown gravy. Nut-filled Waldorf salads offered the sweet crunch of apples and grapes.  Bowls of home-canned green beans, peas, carrots and corn rounded out the vegetable offerings. Mouth-watering berry pies and tall chocolate cakes weighed down the dessert table.

Parents supporting the teachers ate to their fill and raised a friendly ruckus in the Elementary School lunchroom.  It was a highlight of the year, as least to me. 68da36fb8f0011836144f3468f280f35

I remember kids running wild through the halls while parents visited in the lunchroom. Boys (more than girls) pounded on lockers as they ran past, feeling wild and free in the very halls that, during the week, required us to walk calmly and quietly.

Last year, as David, Katherine and I prepared for our move to Ecuador, I went through all my papers and came upon one of mom’s journals. In it she had written out the menus, itemized the groceries and detailed the total expenses for two or three of the annual community smorgasboards.

Pork roast cost $0.39 a pound. Onions and vegetables for the entire crowd weighed in at cents, not dollars.  When a cup was broken and a bowl cracked during cleanup, mom itemized the cost of replacement. This down-to-the-penny accounting speaks to me of a different age. Where thrift and honesty, sharing of resources and community were stronger.

It wasn’t a perfect time by any means, but it was different. Quiter. Calmer. Like Mayberry and Opey. Like Aunt Bea.

I look at kitchens today with six-burner professional stoves and multiple sinks. Double ovens and islands for extra counter space. How did Mary and Dorothy and all the other women in the 50’s manage? Our kitchen had very little counter space and very narrow cabinets. A tiny four-burner gas stove seems inadequate for the volume of food mom cooked. Our brown (or was it green?) refrigerator stood alone on the wall next to the back porch/pantry/laundry room.  A trash-can-size tin of lard stood sentry next to the cabinets,  an arm’s length from where mom mixed up her pastries.

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Lard cans came in a variety of sizes.  We opted for extra-large.

Lard is what made mom’s biscuits, piecrusts and fried chicken so good. Not canola oil, not peanut oil, not safflower oil. Good ole creamy white lard. It made her biscuits fluffier and her crusts flakier. Of course, it also choked our arteries.

The basement door, next to our round oak kitchen table, led down to the cellar where shelves were lined with jars of canned green beans, corn, tomatoes and beets.

Mom often served us succotash, a dish made of corn and lima beans made popular during the depression.  The combination of grain and protein met our dietary needs without much cost. But oh, I hated lima beans. I didn’t know the history of the dish nor did I care. I  just knew it was hard to swallow. Mom adjusted the recipe, substituting green beans and I was able to clean my plate without a problem.

One of my very first lessons about what it meant to be an adult involved mom and grapefruit.

download (1)Most mornings as a child I would sit down to breakfast with half of a grapefruit at my place. Mom had taken the time to cut each section and remove the seeds.  I ate mine with salt and gusto.

I scooped out each section and then, when I had worked my way around the half, I’d take the rind in hand and squeeze any additional juice into my bowl. Dad did it best. He had a method. And though I tried to follow his lead, I could never squeeze out as much as he could.

I was in my late 20’s and living in Atlanta when I developed an intense craving for grapefruit like we used to have at home. I went out and bought a five-pound bag of the pink kind. My favorite. I woke up early the next morning, eager to dig in to my half of a grapefruit. Only then did I learn the bitter truth. This fruit I loved did not grow with pre-cut sections.

Mom wasn’t there. If I wanted to taste the goodness I had to do the work myself.

 

Adulthood for me began that morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K: It’s All About Mary/#a-to-z challenge/ Kids, Kids, Kids

imagesTen Little Thorntons and How They Grew.

Now that sounds like a book.

When I was young I firmly believed my family had the makings of a bestseller. We were twice the family the famous Peppers were (as in Five Little Peppers and How They Grew) and they had a whole series devoted to them.

I was so envious of their success — even if it was fictional — that I refused to read any of Margaret Sidney’s stories. I still haven’t read any of the volumes and I’m 65.

Some resentments are to put down.

I’m not sure where the feeling originated, but I believed everyone in the world, once they got to know us, wanted to be a Thornton. In my tiny, yet-to-be-fully-formed brain I knew that we Thorntons were one-of-a-kind.

No one said that. My parents certainly didn’t believe it. Maybe it was just that I adored being around my siblings and their families so much I doubted others could be as wonderful.

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Mom and Dad in front of Greenfield Presbyterian Church where dad was interim pastor for 17+ years!

Mom and dad were very strict and focused. They didn’t waver in their faith or commitments. They took the Bible literally and did their best to live out each and every principle of their perception of Christianity.  They believed we needed to be examples and placed a heavy burden on each of us.

The older kids may disagree about the burden part. But I know I felt pressure to be on best behavior at all times — and it sucked.

Dad ruled the roost. Mom followed his lead and seldom questioned him. At least not in front of the children.  When mom held a different viewpoint, they conversed in Japanese. No need for the kids to hear a disagreement.  That wouldn’t be a good example.

But I could tell.

Mom was speaking her mind in a foreign language but letting dad have his say.

Growing up, I just didn’t witness fights. Mom and dad never argued. At least in English. At least in front of me.

I was 18 the first time I heard a raised voice between them. I had returned home from college for a weekend. They were preparing for their move back to Japan. Dad decided to give their possessions away. Everything. Mom wanted to hold on to her piano and organ.

“Let’s loan them to someone until we get back,” she said.

“No,” he insisted. She resisted.

His voice rose a few decibels and they gave away her piano and organ.

I feared that brief argument would destroy our family. The end of the Thorntons as I knew them. We weren’t over, of course. Mom and dad went on to have almost 20 more years together.

Mom dearly loved each one of her kids, but she never praised or bragged about us to any other women. That would be pride. Pride is a sin. One of the big ones. And mom tried very hard to avoid any evidence of sin in her life. It is for that reason she also refused to look in the mirror for more than a few moments a day. Vanity was also a top contender.

SIN. What is it? In those days it seemed to be specific acts one did or refrained from doing. Sin was a list of behaviors that must be abstained from or repented of as quickly as necessary. Even as a child I found it all too much. Too hard. Impossible.

Don’t work on Sunday. Obey your parents. Do not swear, dammit. Stay married no matter what. For goodness sake don’t rob or steal.  If someone has something you want, stop wanting it. Follow precisely these very specific  commandments and you’re saved from eternal damnation.

That’s what I heard. I daresay that’s not what they believed or meant to communicate at the time. Or maybe it was.

They certainly mellowed over time.

Mom and dad did their best to be spotless examples to the 10 little Thorntons while we grew. And I believe in many ways they served as excellent role models — unjust not in the ways they would expect.

Mom showed me how to live, not by what she said but by through her love for dad and the family and for people in general.

I watched her when she wasn’t aware.

I saw her smile at dad or hold his hand when they walked. Love.

I felt her intense loyalty and admiration for him when she scolded me one day for something unkind and uncalled for I said about him.  Love.

I witnessed her getting up early, morning after morning, and making him breakfast. She would have preferred to stay in bed. And knowing dad, he would have let her. She did this because she loved him.  And he her.

She spent hours at the dining room table reading her Bible. Or playing hymns on the piano.  Not because she was supposed to, but because she liked it. She really really liked it. Faith and love.

My sister Kate reminded me just the other day about being upstairs and listening to dad and mom holding long, often laughter-filled conversations downstairs.  And dad reading a book to mom while she ironed.  They delighted in being together. Love.

Mama thought her words told me how to live. She didn’t have a clue that what impressed me most and kept me yearning to be more like her were the ordinary things she did. How her voice lit up when any of her children called her on the phone. The way her face beamed when someone she loved walked through the door. How people would open up and let their defenses down when she talked with them and asked them questions. Love

17918315_10209257440128598_964085524_nAnd let me be perfectly clear. Mama was certainly not perfect. Not by any means. To this day, a few grandchildren have not-the-fondest memories of Mary.  Mama could be direct and harshly critical of what she perceived her grand kids did or did not do to help their mothers. They were, after all, mom’s children.

Today, I look at the 10 Thorntons and how we grew and know we don’t need a story written about us. But I think perhaps Mary does.

We’ll see.