Good People

She wore black. She covered her woven hair in a scarf she made from a shirt found in his closet. Her son wore starched clothes she’d bought and ironed earlier that day.

She was hired to help him. He was elderly, house-bound, stuck in a recliner.

She was young, a single mother, poor.

She and her son lived in a poor, rundown apartment with rodent issues. She worked two jobs to keep the refrigerator stocked.

On her first day, she rolled into the old man’s driveway on fumes. Her car had rust on the fenders, an axle that made noise.

The old man fell in love with her—it would’ve been hard not to. Maybe it was her midnight skin, or the way she hummed when she worked. Maybe it was how she wrapped her woven hair in colorful homemade scarves.

She was a hard worker. She changed sheets, shopped for groceries, made breakfasts, lunches, and suppers.

She helped him use the bathroom. She eased him into showers. She scrubbed his backside. She combed his hair. She did his laundry. She folded his clothes while daytime TV gameshows ran in the background.

He talked.

He told her more than he’d told anyone. He talked about old days. About a war he fought. About jobs he worked. About his late wife. About losing his only son.

She listened to him. No. She did more than listen.

She heard him.

And when he’d cry—which happened often—she held him the same way she would’ve held her son.

He enjoyed her son. Jemiah was the boy’s name. Jemiah wore poor-boy clothes, his shoes had holes in them.

The child liked to read, and write make-believe stories on construction paper. He wrote a story about the old man. It had illustrations of a white-haired man in a magical recliner that could fly.
Jemiah titled it: “My Friend Anthony.”

The old man kept it on his nightstand. It had been a long time since anyone called him friend. He read through it time and again.

His end came early one evening.

She was leaving his house for her night-shift job—cleaning offices. Her purse was already slung over her shoulder. She wasn’t going to bid him goodbye since he was asleep. But something made her go check on him one more time.

She was in time to hear the old man release a giant breath. His jaw went slack. She touched his heart and said a prayer.

“Goodbye,” she said.

The funeral was a small one. A few friends, some distant family. He lived and died a lonely man.

She wore black. She covered her woven hair in a scarf she made from a shirt found in his closet. Her son wore starched clothes she’d bought and ironed earlier that day.

She sang a song for him, graveside. A hymn she remembered her mother singing long ago. It was haunting, but hopeful. Something about laying burdens down.

In the cemetery, she walked back toward her poor-person car. The one with rusty fenders.

She held Jemiah by the hand. Her eyes were cried dry.

A man in a business suit jogged after them. He called her by name.

She stopped walking.

He handed her a manila envelope. He smiled and said, “He must’ve really loved you.”

She opened it.

Niagara Falls.

And just like that, she wasn’t poor anymore.

34 comments

  1. Dianne Correll - June 22, 2018 5:46 am

    Thankful for good people!!

    Reply
  2. Mary - June 22, 2018 9:02 am

    My fave! Such a beautiful telling of people giving selflessly from the heart; and about giving back. It’s what each of us gives that defines us.

    Reply
  3. Deborah Roberts - June 22, 2018 9:09 am

    I once read this quote, “Sincerely is when the appearance and the reality are exactly the same”, and that’s what this dear woman was…sincere. God bless you Sean, for showing us the good people and the good things that are still alive and well on earth.

    Reply
    • Janet Mary Lee - June 25, 2018 1:02 am

      Deborah, love your quote!

      Reply
  4. Steven P Bailey - June 22, 2018 9:38 am

    Beautiful….

    Reply
  5. Ronnie - June 22, 2018 11:07 am

    Beautiful!

    Reply
  6. Marilyn - June 22, 2018 11:08 am

    Love it…

    Reply
  7. Edy Holmes - June 22, 2018 11:10 am

    There are good and decent people in the world. It is a shame we so rarely get to read about them. Thank you

    Reply
  8. Helene - June 22, 2018 11:12 am

    Kindness matters

    Reply
  9. Michael Guilday - June 22, 2018 11:46 am

    Love to start my day crying. Beautiful story. I know there are many more just like it that we never hear about. Bless you that are the heroes in them.

    Reply
  10. Ellen Walters - June 22, 2018 11:57 am

    Amen!!!!

    Reply
  11. LeAnne Martin - June 22, 2018 12:05 pm

    Oh, Sean! You’ve done it again: made me cry. God bless these three people, and you as well.

    Reply
  12. Grace Foxwell Murdock - June 22, 2018 12:38 pm

    Great ending…thank the Lord and Anthony!

    Reply
  13. Edna B. - June 22, 2018 1:02 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for starting my day off with a smile. You have an awesome day, Sean. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  14. Marty from Alabama - June 22, 2018 1:13 pm

    Always do your job to the best of your ability and go that extra mile. You may not see anything other than your normal pay, for now anyway. But a better day will come, just be patient.

    Reply
  15. Jan - June 22, 2018 1:25 pm

    What a beautiful story.

    Reply
  16. Charlu Kent - June 22, 2018 1:40 pm

    So beautiful. 💙🐭❤️😎

    Reply
  17. Sue Cronkite - June 22, 2018 1:55 pm

    Fine story.

    Reply
  18. April - June 22, 2018 2:40 pm

    So thankful for the goodness all around us💓

    Reply
  19. Bobbie - June 22, 2018 2:43 pm

    This is the second time for me, reading this….it still touches my very soul. Thank you, Sean, for sharing and for caring!

    Reply
  20. Angela V Young - June 22, 2018 2:47 pm

    Such a sweet story; again Sean you made me cry…”She really heard.” Humbling, not many are adept at this. Thank you!

    Reply
  21. Toni Tucker Locke - June 22, 2018 2:56 pm

    Wow!

    Reply
  22. Brad Campbell - June 22, 2018 3:08 pm

    This is awesome! Thank you so much. Your writings really do remind us about the good in this cruel world.

    Reply
  23. Lynda - June 22, 2018 5:09 pm

    no better example of true love and all were blessed by it.

    Reply
  24. Richard Dunn - June 22, 2018 6:49 pm

    My second ex-wife told me about Sean. This is the first story l have read,I am hooked. Thanks Terri .

    Reply
  25. Gay Beck - June 22, 2018 8:00 pm

    I just love a great ending. Thanks so much for the smile and good ending!!🤘💕

    Reply
  26. Freida - June 22, 2018 9:10 pm

    I love all your writings, but this one gave me chills. Keep it up, Sean. You’re touching lives!

    Reply
  27. Carolynn Bettis - June 22, 2018 10:37 pm

    Excellent – Giving & Receiving – God’s mysteries….

    Reply
  28. j - June 23, 2018 12:45 am

    The right thing. I love it when folks do the RIGHT thing. I am presently facing a dilemma in doing the right thing.

    Reply
  29. Jody - June 23, 2018 2:20 am

    She was generous in nature and rich in spirit long before she opened the envelope.

    Reply
  30. Patricia Gibson - June 23, 2018 8:12 pm

    Praise God for good people and for you Sean because you share these hopeful stories with us!

    Reply
  31. Janet Mary Lee - June 25, 2018 1:06 am

    What a loving tribute,, for all three of them!

    Reply
  32. Carol Stern - June 26, 2018 12:54 am

    One of your best! Thanks for introducing me to such incredible people.

    Reply
  33. Angela Bailey - June 27, 2018 11:25 am

    My goodness. Every morning over coffee, I read your daily words. Every morning, you introduce me to a world of good. Thank you for that.

    Tears from Ky.

    Reply

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