The picture of her son was a wallet-sized, high-school portrait from the late sixties. The boy’s hair was painfully dated. His smile was easy.
He was a good kid. That’s what they say.
He and his mother were close. Best friends, even. She was a single mother; he was a mama’s boy.
They were driving home from Atlanta one afternoon. They saw a car stalled on the side of the road.
“Don’t pull over,” she told her teenage son. “We don’t have time. Don’t wanna be late for kickoff.”
In those days, high-school kickoffs ruled the world. Her son was a good fullback. There was even talk about recruitment. Not serious talk, but talk.
Either way, he was a poster child. He had high cheekbones, promise, a sweet girlfriend, good grades.
“I gotta pull over, Mama,” he said.
He veered to the shoulder. He stepped out to help an old man change a tire.
She didn’t actually see it happen. But she heard the old man shout, “Move!”
And out of the corner of her eye, she saw the man jump. Then, a crash. Skidding.
And her boy was gone.
The days that followed were the worst of her life. Not only because he was gone, but because a piece of her had been buried, too.
Someone once heard her say, “I asked God to take me on the day of his funeral. I wanted to give up living.”
But God didn’t take her.
One sunny day, a knock at her door. Her son’s girlfriend. They sat at a table together. They cried big tears. They looked at photos. They held one another.
The girl told her she was pregnant.
And I understand that his mother’s happiness outweighed sadness.
The pregnancy was a normal, joyful one. Still, for each “congratulations” someone offered, an “I’m so sorry” followed.
But babies are immune to sadness. They make people feel warm, no matter what the outside temperature.
The child turned a plain hospital room into all smiles. And when his granny held him, they say she wouldn’t let go for two days.
The boy spent his childhood at Granny’s. And Granny helped raise him—in many ways, she was Mother as much as Grandmother.
Over the years, she told stories about the boy’s father. About a hero.
In fact, she wrote her stories down in a notebook so her grandson would always have them. It took a year to finish writing.
The last story in her notes was a lot like the one I just told you. A teenage Good Samaritan, a long drive home.
They say she went easy. She was fortunate not to suffer long.
Her grandson made copies of a tattered notebook. He kept the new copies and placed the original in her casket—along with a black-and-white senior portrait.
They say before she left, she was not scared. Not even a little.
“I’ve waited a long time to see my Danny again,” said the old woman.
Today she’s with her boy.
And what a grand day in heaven it must be.