Around the World and Back to Texas

The Texas Story Project.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Grace Mewhinney had never witnessed the beauty of pure white snow, the dense Panamanian rainforest, or the glorious night sky of Germany. It wasn’t until she enlisted in the army as a nurse that she witnessed all three of these sights and so much more.

Grace’s story starts in May of 1967 when she was born to Ramiro and Olinda Galvan. She grew up with nine siblings—four brothers and five sisters—all of whom still reside in the great ol’ state of Texas. Grace loved San Antonio and her parents’ home country, Mexico, but longed to see the world. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that she finally left to see what the world had to offer. In 1984, 17 year-old Grace got a job at her local Walgreens Pharmacy as a pharmacy technician. It was here, three years later, that she met the love of her life and now-husband Thomas Mewhinney. Thomas had gotten the job as the store manager at the same Walgreens. They quickly fell in love, marrying only a year later, surrounded by their closest relatives and loved ones.

In 1989, Grace enlisted in the Army, following her husband Thomas. Grace was enlisted as a nurse and Thomas as a mailman. They were both shipped out to Iraq in 1990 to aid in the fight of the Gulf War and Desert Storm. It was during this time that Grace had experienced the world like never before, more the ugly than the good. The battlefield was a scarring scene to witness, but she and Thomas survived the storm and were able to return home safe and sound. Once they returned, they had learned they were to be stationed in Germany and in 1992, they made Germany their home.

Grace describes Germany as a place she would never forget. The scenery and the environment were breathtaking. From the snow to the trees, their time spent in Germany was worth being away from home. It was also in Germany that Grace gave birth to her only son, Spencer. At a shocking 10 pounds, Spencer was born on November 11th, 1992. Ironically, this day also happens to be the national holiday of Veteran’s Day. Spencer would spend his first year in Germany with his parents before being sent back home to San Antonio to live with Grace’s sister, Dolores, and mother, Olinda. Grace described being away from her home and her son as “extremely difficult” but she knew she had made a promise to defend the country and she would fulfill her promise.

In 1995, the pair were sent to Virginia for a short term before being stationed in the beautiful country of Panama. Panama was an astounding site, with its amazing architecture and phenomenal geographical sites. But even with being surrounded by amazing geography and living with her husband, Grace felt like she was missing a huge piece of herself. And she was—Spencer. She ultimately made the decision to go back to San Antonio, where she had left her whole world two years before. In 1997, Grace’s term ended and she returned to her one and only true home, Texas.

Upon reflection, Grace described her time in the army as “Wonderful but terrible, all at the same time”. Ultimately, Texas was where her heart longed to be, not only because of her son, but because of her culture and history. Growing up in Texas definitely made being a first generation Mexican-American easier and it’s where she has always felt most comfortable.

“I always wanted to travel the world, and I did. I witnessed the cold German winter and the beautiful sites of Panama, but nothing came close to the feeling of being where I belonged, in Texas.”

Sarah Flores is a freshman Computer Science major at St. Mary’s University located in San Antonio, Texas. She aspires to attend medical school to become a pediatrician. Sarah is a San Antonio native and dreams of opening her own clinic in the city where her heart belongs. She is a member of St. Mary’s Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity chapter and loves all things science. 

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