Communication: The Story of Two Anns

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Ann Langrall

The woman in the yellow feathered boa is my great-aunt, Ann. She’s ready to toss rice at my wedding.

When I turn to this photo in my album, I hear her voice, all the words over all the years.

Stories:  About her girlhood, her adventures with her twin sister, my grandma.

The Twins

Explanations: Of the bells in her bell collection…

Ann's Bell  Collection

Her Danish Christmas plates…

Christmas Plate

The dolls she brought me from her travels.

Ann's Dolls

And advice, lots of it:  “You can lose your looks and you can lose your money, but you can’t lose your education.”

VCFA MFA Diploma

Two years after my wedding, my Aunt Ann, frozen from Parkinson’s Disease, went silent.

The grand lady, who once entertained and guided us with her words, never spoke.

A sad ending to a vigorous life.

Here comes the story of another Ann, Annie Glenn, the wife of astronaut John Glenn.

This story has a happier ending.

Annie Glenn

Annie, like her father, stuttered as a child. She and John, hometown sweethearts, married in 1943.

John and Annie Glenn

Frequent moves as a military wife proved challenging for someone with a communication disorder.

Then John Glenn soared into outer space.  As the wife of a national hero, Annie was called on for interviews and public speaking opportunities.  More challenges.

In 1973, she enrolled in a  program at the Communications Research Institute at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia.

Wonderful success!

When John heard Annie speak  for the first time without stuttering, he dropped to his knees in prayer. Read more about her speech therapy in this article titled “John Glenn’s True Hero.”

Listen to Annie speak in this video:

In 1983, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) awarded Annie Glenn their first national award for  “providing an inspiring model for people with communicative disorders.” The Annie Glenn Award, established in 1987, is now given each year to an individual who achieves distinction despite a communication disorder.

Two Anns.

Both vibrant women with insighful and witty words to share.

If my aunt were alive today, help would be available for her.  Here’s one article addressing communication and Parkinson’s Disease.

ASHA’s website will lead you to excellent information on communication disorders. Click here.  To find an audiologist or a speech-language therapist in your area, use this search tool.

Don’t let a communication disorder silence those you love, young or old (or yourself). Help awaits!

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I  happily wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by
BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf ASHA.org and received payment
for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

28 responses »

  1. Lots in this post– love the photos of your aunt – and would love to hear more of her stories. Glad there are so many resources now for speech issues– it’s a great field for young people to enter too.

  2. Beautifully said! And I love your Aunt Ann’s quote about education! My favorite cousin growing up was Roberta Ann, with mahogany red hair we called her “BobbyAnn” and she was a speech therapist. Her advice to me at age 14 was to be fearless.

  3. Parkinson’s has such a sad progression and we will never know if she did not speak because something shut down in the area of the brain that controls speech (Brocca’s area) or if she just shut down.

    You have such a wonderful way of balancing the tragic with the inspirational, thank you! I love your voice Barbara!

  4. Inspiring post! I loved your great aunt’s quote – so true!! And I never realized that John Glenn’s wife had a stuttering problem. It’s wonderful how much help is out there if you know where to look. You’ve provided a valuable service in mentioning one road to take.

  5. Stuttering can be such a difficult thing for people to deal with–not only for the stutterer, but also for those listening to the stutterer. My Dad used to stutter–or actually I would call it more of a stammer. He had trouble getting out certain sounds. My older sister also has that problem. It has been a constant source of frustration for her. Good there are resources for those who need it.

  6. Such a wonderful tribute to two beautiful women. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your Great-Aunt with us and for the information regarding help for communication disorders. I wonder if, in today’s world of non-verbal communication (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, texting), the instances of speech disorders are going unrecognized. Just a thought, and something to be watchful for in our young people. I’m so glad you posted the links to get help.

    Hearing stories told by your Great-Aunt had to be a thrill for you. Of course, having her voice silenced by illness is devastating. Such a bittersweet memory for you, I’m sure. Thanks, again for sharing.

  7. Thank you for the lovely post, Barbara, as well as the helpful information. I work very closely with a stutterer and am saddened when I see people turning away from her when she talks or simply do not pay attention. She’s a brilliant, and funny, woman and I know works hard at her speaking. I wish more people would take time to understand this disorder. Thank you for raising awareness!

  8. You were able to cover so many relevant points in such a quick way. The pictures wove it together for me. I love how you contrasted the two Anns. I a simple way you drove the point home for anyone reading.

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