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from The Brightest Firefly by Dacia M Arnold

Little Mary Magdalene

Little Mary Magdalene






My grandmother, Ms. Mary Magdalene Gilliam (Werner), was a true matriarch in the most humble and meek sense. She never talked about herself or told stories about growing up in Kansas in the 1930s and ’40s. She loved a good Christian romance novel, but was never a storyteller herself. Strangely, she produced many subsequent storytellers, writers, and authors in her children and grandchildren. The earliest and only story I heard about my family history was more about my Great-Grandmother, Regina Philomena Werner (Schmidt). My grandmother told this story to her daughter, Jacqueline, who shared it with me.


It was a rare, and likely less serious, occasion if Regina Werner spanked one of her ten living children.

“No,” she insisted. “If you really want to teach a child a lesson, you sit them down and really teach them.”

Not sparing a swat for missed manners or a grounding for breaking the rules, if one of her children really messed up, she sat them down on a tall, four-legged wood stool—the one missing the foot bars so their feet just dangled uncomfortably—and lectured them for hours on end depending on the chore she completed while the child watched and listened. The older children caught on quick, but the little ones still had much to learn. They often begged for spankings just to be done with the offense.


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