Reunion with Gladys
June 1982

“Reunion with Gladys,” Ensign, June 1982, 57

Reunion with Gladys

During the summer of 1945, when I was a girl of six, my seven-year-old brother and I lived with my father in Seattle, Washington. World War II was over, and he had just been released from the U.S. Army after a tedious tour of duty overseas.

My parents had been divorced for several years, and my father had remarried. Our new mother, Gladys, was a very kind lady who spent many hours with my brother and me. She was a good cook, and I remember that she worked very hard to help dad remodel the old two-story home they had bought.

Dad had thought our stay with him would be permanent, and so had we. But after a few months my mother asked that we be returned to her in California. Throughout the years I thought often of Gladys. Their marriage deteriorated after our leaving them, and while I visited dad a few times over the years until his death in 1961, he could not tell me where Gladys lived.

In 1977 my young daughter and I moved from Salt Lake City to Tacoma, Washington, to live near my married daughter and her family. That same year my mother died.

After her death, missing her love and companionship, I began to think of Gladys more often and had a strong desire to locate her. I went to the public library and checked the old city directories to see if she was listed. Indeed she was, but only until 1953; I thought that she must have remarried, moved, or perhaps died. I went to the apartment building listed in the directory, and the managers told me of a woman living upstairs who might have known Gladys. I called her, but she could not help me. I was prompted to tell her that the city directory had listed Gladys as a clerk at a local cleaners, and I wondered if she had ever taken her cleaning there and perhaps knew of her. When I mentioned the name of the cleaners, the woman said that her sister and brother-in-law had owned that particular shop years ago. In fact, her sister happened to be there in the room with her—and she knew Gladys! She had not seen her for several years, but knew someone who possibly would know where she lived. This woman called me the next morning with an address and telephone number in Tacoma.

I was so excited that I drove immediately to Gladys’s apartment. When she greeted me at the door, I asked her if she remembered her stepdaughter from years ago. She hugged me, and we both shed a few tears. She told me she had thought about my brother and me many times and wondered where we were. She recalled how much she had loved both of us, and assured me that she had never forgotten the precious days we had spent together.

I told Gladys I was a convert to the LDS church; she replied that she had always respected the Mormons because the ones she knew were wonderful family people. We had a long visit, reminiscing over years and years of news.

A short time later the ward missionaries asked me if I knew someone they could visit. I sent them to see Gladys. They were warmly welcomed, and Gladys was baptized in July 1979. She is faithful to her testimony, pays her tithing, and reads the scriptures daily. She is nearly eighty years old, and our love for each other grows stronger each day.

Gladys feels strongly that our Heavenly Father sent me back into her life to bring her the gospel. And, as an extra bonus, she has been able to give me treasured mementos and photographs for my own personal history.

When I think of this very meaningful time of our lives, the words of Ecclesiastes come to mind: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1.)

  • Shirlye Stewart, mother of three, is meetinghouse librarian in her Tacoma, Washington, ward.

Illustrated by Scott Snow