‘We who are many are one body’
PORT VILA, Vanuatu — I forgot what day it was.…
OKLAHOMA CITY — Glynna Hartman loved to read.
The Bible. Religious books. Paperback romance novels.
It’s that last one that drew so many chuckles at her memorial service Friday night at the Wilshire Church of Christ, the faithful Christian’s home congregation in Oklahoma City.
As her son, David Hartman, recalls, she’d buy a dozen or more of those novels at used bookstores. She’d read a few chapters to pass the time anywhere she happened to be.
“‘Anywhere’ even included in a church pew waiting for services to begin,” her obituary noted, “or back in the church fellowship hall while her son, David, prepared Wednesday night meals.”
David, my friend since I enrolled at Oklahoma Christian University in 1986, no doubt wrote that. A fellow journalism major, he was my first editor at The Talon, Oklahoma Christian’s student newspaper.
I can imagine Glynna up in heaven feigning offense that he included it while simultaneously laughing about it with the rest of us. That’s the type of relationship she and David enjoyed, even as she grew older and her care fell to her son.
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Glynna died Nov. 17, 2023 — 13 days after her 90th birthday — but David waited until after the new year for her celebration of life.
I first met Glynna and her late husband, Ron, in 1988 when she was in her mid-50s, the age I am now. I traveled with David to the Milwaukee area, where his parents lived at the time.
Later, as newlyweds, my wife, Tamie, and I enjoyed playing spades with Glynna and David from time to time. David and I typically were partners, and any time we beat Glynna and Tamie, Glynna would wag a finger at us and advise against “crowing.”
A few years later, Glynna helped sew maternity clothes for Tamie when she was pregnant with our first child. Glynna, Ron and David were among the first to visit us in the hospital to take turns holding Brady in July 1993, and when Tamie eventually returned to work one day a week, Glynna cared for him.
Glynna’s obit mentioned that she and Ron loved their church family and “would often host other couples for simple meals followed by hours of smack-talking, name-calling, fiercely-competitive spades and hearts games well into the night.”
No doubt Glynna is making plans to exert revenge on David for that line, too.
Jeremie Beller, Wilshire’s congregational minister (along with serving as The Christian Chronicle’s opinions editor), delivered Glynna’s eulogy.
Besides extolling her devotion to her Savior, Jeremie enlightened his fellow Christians on Glynna’s unique relationship with her son.
“Those who don’t know David well were shocked when they saw David referring to his mother as ‘Geezer,’” Jeremie said. “Who does that? Who treats someone of wisdom and age with such seeming disrepute?
“And yet I need to tell you, from Glynna’s own mouth, that she told me that Ron used to call her Geezer, and that’s why it was OK for David to call her Geezer sometimes,” the minister added. “I’d also say that Glynna should not be held responsible fully for the person that David is today. She tried to keep raising him even to the end.”
Jeremie remembered meals with David and Glynna at their favorite restaurant, Swadley’s B-B-Q. (Swadley’s, by the way, catered the dinner before Glynna’s memorial for free.)
Glynna had strong opinions about certain matters, and she wasn’t afraid to share them. Jeremie said he’d sit at the restaurant and just enjoy the feisty interaction between the mother and her adult son.
“David wasn’t afraid to bait her,” Jeremie said. “And I got to the point where it was almost like, ‘Just bring me the popcorn,’ especially about politics.
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“David didn’t share her love of the news station she watched. And to Glynna’s credit, she unfriended her own son on Facebook,” the minister added, as the congregation burst into laughter. “The woman took a stand because she believed what she believed.
“And did that change David? No.”
But Jeremie turned more serious as he praised David for how well he took care of his mother, even as her health deteriorated and caring for her became more complicated.
Jeremie expressed his gratitude, too, to the numerous Wilshire church members who helped David with his mom — with “time and money and effort and sweat.”
“It’s really a beautiful testimony to what church and community are supposed to be,” Jeremie said. “I often wonder: What do people do who have no church family? How do you face the struggles and storms of life by yourself? Where do you find hope?”
“It’s really a beautiful testimony to what church and community are supposed to be. I often wonder: What do people do who have no church family? How do you face the struggles and storms of life by yourself? Where do you find hope?”
Glynna, a former church secretary in Ohio and Illinois, found her hope in Jesus.
And, just maybe, she inspired a message or two — or a dozen — from the pulpit.
Jeremie joked that a member found one of the romance novels in a church pew one time, “and we got a 12-part sermon series out of that.”
BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].
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