Good Girls

They began a new life. It wasn’t much, but theirs was a happy house. She washed laundry in tin tubs. Her kids didn’t wear shoes unless company came over.

The early fifties. Her high-society parents had her future already planned. She was supposed to attend a good school, marry a respected boy, she would be a success.

Success. That’s what good little girls were supposed to want.

She grew up taking piano lessons, going to parties, learning to eat with the right fork.

She got pregnant.

She was sixteen; he was sixteen. He was a boy who cut down trees for a living. He was tall, skinny, big ears. No high school.

Her uppity friends shunned her. Her parents forbid her to see the boy. Her father threatened to send her to a boarding school.

Then. Late night. Her mother woke her. She told her to get into the car—nightgown and all. They drove dark highways through the woods. Neither of them speaking.

They stopped.

There was a man waiting outside a laundromat, smoking a cigarette. He wore a white lab coat and carried a medical bag.

“He’s gonna take care of your pregnancy,” her mother said. She insisted it was for her daughter’s own good. Insisted that her very success depended on it.

The girl jumped out of the car. She ran through the woods. Crying. She hitched a ride to town.

And she would never forget this night.

She moved in with her boyfriend’s family. Her stomach grew bigger. She gave birth in a bedroom with the help of a white-haired midwife. A sweet woman who told her how much God loved her.

They became friends. The midwife took her to a country church. The girl started playing piano during weekly services. She married the skinny boy, he gave her two more girls.

They began a new life. It wasn’t much, but theirs was a happy house. She washed laundry in tin tubs. Her kids didn’t wear shoes unless company came over.

She hadn’t spoken to her parents in years. Her old friends quit calling. People can be cruel.

One Sunday morning, she arrived early to church. She sat behind the piano, like she did every Sunday. The pews were empty.

Except for a woman in the back row. The woman’s head rested in her hands. She stood. The woman walked the aisle. It was her mother.

They embraced. They cried. They put years behind them. And I understand it was quite a sight.

Anyway, I could tell you the rest of the story, I guess, but there’s not enough room. I could tell you about the girl’s beautiful family, about the people she helped.

I could tell you about the hundreds she taught to play piano. Or about the thousands of mouths she fed in a small fellowship hall, over the years.

I could tell you about her husband, and how they were married for fifty-nine years. I could tell you how she was the best damned midwife in three counties until she passed.

About the pregnant teenagers she saved. About the births she performed on kitchen tables, living-room sofas, and back bedrooms.

But then, her life isn’t what most folks would call successful.

Well.

Success isn’t everything.

26 comments

  1. Judy - October 29, 2017 1:46 pm

    I think we agree. My measure of success is a little different from some. Success is found in living a purposeful life – by what we do for others. At least that is the measure I use and she is a very successful person in my eyes. Thank you for sharing her story. I hope it will help others evaluate their definition of success.

    Reply
  2. Sandra Smith - October 29, 2017 1:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Blessing. ❤

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  3. Ardis Kenney - October 29, 2017 1:56 pm

    WOW! What a story, and there are so many out there. I could even write one, but I would be betraying a promise.

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  4. Pat Byers - October 29, 2017 2:18 pm

    i was that girl too. 15 and pregnant. refused an abortion, that my mother insisted on. her reputation would be tarnished should people ‘find out’ about the pregnancy. but. pregnancy in small towns will not be hushed. i married the father, had the baby, and 55 years later am still married to that man. i finished school, although unlike now, was not allowed back IN school. and took college courses. we were the definition of poor. but people didn’t have a lot then anyway. i worked, was respected, owned my own business and succeeded. and resented my mother for years…

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  5. Linda - October 29, 2017 2:32 pm

    So good. Success isn’t always about how much money you have.

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  6. SGM - October 29, 2017 2:40 pm

    Your writing touches my heart, Sean…again and again.

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  7. Jack Quanstrum - October 29, 2017 2:58 pm

    Great finish! And a heart warming story. Success means different things to different people. I like your version!

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  8. Connie - October 29, 2017 3:15 pm

    Great read. Thank you for sharing. I agree, she sounds pretty successful to me.

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  9. Allyson - October 29, 2017 3:29 pm

    Thank you for taking me to church this morning… I haven’t been in awhile…

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  10. Sandra Marrar - October 29, 2017 4:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing another beautiful story about a woman who made a difference in this world.

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  11. Judy Miller - October 29, 2017 4:12 pm

    I was that girl too, although thankfully, I was just a few weeks away from high school graduation, because back in the ’50’s, if “they” found out you were pregnant, you were expelled from school. Yes, my Mother knew where I could be taken care of, so I could go on with college, etc. My boyfriend and I had dated for 3 years, we married one week after high school graduation and went on to have our son and 3 daughters. We made it 27 years. Now I have 9 grand children and one great grand baby. I wasn’t as successful as the lady in your story. All I ever was, was what I always wanted to be–a wife and mother.

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  12. Gail Davis - October 29, 2017 5:27 pm

    Good, good story, Sean!

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  13. Steve Maynard - October 29, 2017 7:21 pm

    Even broken crayons still color. Sometimes it is not our decision what the picture will be, but it is up to us to still color.

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  14. Joyce Anne Bacon - October 29, 2017 11:12 pm

    You seem to always touch my heart just when I need it most.

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  15. Cynthia - October 30, 2017 12:01 am

    ❤️

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  16. Simple Thyme Prims - October 30, 2017 1:26 am

    Great lesson here Sean. Your writings are so on point.❤️

    Reply
  17. muthahun - October 30, 2017 2:55 am

    Success, riches, beauty, happiness… all pretty much in the eyes of the beholder, eh? I love the John Lennon quote, “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

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  18. Buck Godwin - October 30, 2017 3:11 am

    There are many similar stories out there Sean. It’s too bad that so many abort their baby and regret it the rest of their lives.
    I knew of another one of the “good” stories except the parents accepted it and have loved the baby all its life. Nobody ever had any regrets, that’s what love can do.

    Keep ’em coming Sean, we love them all.

    By the way, I DO believe you’ll end up in heaven!

    Love ya Buddy!

    Buck Godwin

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  19. paula jones - October 30, 2017 1:03 pm

    Her life might not have been ‘successful,’ but it was definitely beautiful, good, and true.

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  20. Teresa Lucas - October 30, 2017 1:21 pm

    Sean, I love that you see the good in everyone. Your posts keep me going some days. Please keep writing.

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  21. Summer Hartzog - October 30, 2017 2:14 pm

    We have a beautiful curly haired little boy because of a beautiful brave girl who didn’t listen to the voices who knew “better.” God bless her. And pity the ones who have no idea what they missed out on. Thank you for this.

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  22. teachenglish67 - October 30, 2017 2:29 pm

    To love the Lord, to help another without thought or expectation of “what’s in it for me?”, to be kind, those are successes. Success is different for everyone. I love these writings of yours. They bring a success to my day…..a smile or something profound to think about. Those are successes, too.

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  23. Linda Chipman - October 30, 2017 3:55 pm

    Another good one Sean! No matter what kind of life you have, you can be successful in so many ways.

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  24. Karen - October 30, 2017 3:59 pm

    Oh Sean, thank you for this story. A happy ending to a strory so often heard and swept under the rug. Glad she followed her heart and she stayed the course. Life can be cruel sometimes, so much love from our heavently Father to surround us. God forgives all shame and forgives us of all hardships. Love this story!! Thank you!

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  25. Sharon Allemang - November 1, 2017 12:12 pm

    Absolutely a wonderful real life story!! That is real success! I love every piece of prose you write.. So heartwarming!! First thing I read every day!!

    Reply
  26. Barbara J Schweck - November 3, 2017 12:33 am

    Beuatiful! No other words!

    Reply

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