After this year of “celebrity rapture”, as one friend called it, hearing of a 90 year old man’s slipping out of existence registers little more than a vale, but since the man in question was the lovely John Glenn, my second thought was of his wife. I knew of her because of The Right Stuff, where their relationship was beautifully portrayed, but I had no idea of her history after the spaceflight era. Turns out she went from a crippling stutter to a professor. Fans of etymology will understand the significance of that. She’s a tough broad and I mourn for the good man and the great relationship she lost.
After years of cruel slurs, of being overlooked by strangers, Annie Glenn seeks out the handicapped. In a crowd, she heads straight for those in wheelchairs. She has a sort of radar; finds the shyest person in the room and takes the time to draw him out. A group of deaf people were in the audience at one of her husband’s speeches. Afterward, Annie Glenn went over to them and soon was learning sign language. As the press crowded around Glenn, he looked over at his wife, who was signing “I Love You” to the deaf. “That’s what you should be covering,” he told the reporters.