Single Daddy

So Joseph works hard for a meager living. Very hard. He barely makes enough. He comes home late each night, wearing muddy clothes. Sometimes he puts in overtime and sleeps in his truck.

The first thing you should know about Joseph is that he isn’t an optimist. In fact, he has no faith in this world.

And he has even less faith in people.

Losing your wife will do that to you. She died and left him with three kids. A small girl. A boy. And a twelve-year-old girl.

So Joseph works hard for a meager living. Very hard. He barely makes enough. He comes home late each night, wearing muddy clothes. Sometimes he puts in overtime and sleeps in his truck.

Joseph’s eldest daughter is half mother and half child. At night, she tucks her siblings into bed. She cooks. She helps with laundry.

At night, Joseph is in bed, thinking of how bad life is. Not only does he miss his wife, he misses the man he was when she was alive. She was taken too early.

How could anyone think this world a happy place when good women die so young?

And the hits keep coming

One day, he’s at his job. He’s exhausted from two night shifts in a row. He makes a catastrophic mistake while operating the bulldozer. It costs the company big money. They fire him.

Later in the afternoon, he’s sitting on his steps, face in hands, crying. His oldest daughter finds him, she sits beside him. She drapes her arm around his shoulders.

“What’s wrong, daddy?” she asks.

He doesn’t want to tell her. He doesn’t want her growing up hating life as much as he does. She’s been through enough.

“Nothing,” Joseph says. “I’ll be alright.”

The next day, he wanders through town, looking for work. He visits local businesses—hat in hand. He’s practically begging for a job.

A full week of job hunting, no luck. Joseph is at his bitter end. It doesn’t take much for a man to lose confidence in this world. A few punches, that’s all.

One Sunday, he takes his family to church. They sit together in a pew. They sing. He fake-smiles and pumps hands.

After service, church folks leave to enjoy a sunny day with their families. Joseph stays. He watches his motherless children play on the church playground. He feels sorry for them. And himself.

The minister finds him. He strikes up a conversation. The minister asks if Joseph happens to know how to change air-conditioner filters.

“Sure,” says Joseph. “It’s easy.”

They walk inside. Joseph changes the filter. It takes five minutes. No tools required.

The minister thanks him and hands Joseph an envelope. Joseph opens it. There are several hundred-dollar bills inside. A thank-you card.

“We’re looking for a maintenance man,” the minister adds, placing a hand on Joe’s shoulder. “It’s not much of a job, but it’s full-time, and it pays good.”

Joseph is too moved to answer. He can only choke on his own saltwater and nod. Lots of nodding. Lots of hugging.

Well, that was a long time ago. A lifetime ago, you could say. But after thirty-six years of changing air-conditioner filters, washing baptismals, and shampooing church carpets, Joseph wants you to know something before you cash in your chips:

This world ain’t all that bad.

And neither are people who love us.

26 comments

  1. Patricia Schmaltz - October 25, 2017 1:40 pm

    You are making me cry AGAIN! Good tears… but still! Very moving story. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Sandra Marrar - October 25, 2017 1:42 pm

    What a precious story of people caring for others! You made me cry…again!

    Reply
  3. Connie - October 25, 2017 1:48 pm

    Thank you for the tears this morning. It’s been a tough couple of days, but reading your words every day reminds me to be thankful for the joy in my life.

    Reply
  4. Janie Fuller - October 25, 2017 1:54 pm

    I will believe that there are good people willing to lend a hand to someone who needs it until I leave this earth. I love that a preacher felt led to offer a jobless man work. I believe there is more good in the world than bad.
    I don’t watch the news every day because it’s the quickest way for me to get depressed.
    Thank you for writing what my heart and others need. I really look forward to reading your stories.

    Reply
  5. Beth Andrews - October 25, 2017 2:00 pm

    I went to my church once and offered to scrub toilets for help with my utility bill. They carved out some clerical work for me to do which turned into a part-time job, then landed me a full time position, which became a 25 year career in church administration. I am so thankful for their generosity in a difficult season of my life.

    Reply
  6. Jack Quanstrum - October 25, 2017 2:05 pm

    Amen to that! Great story. Great finish! And powerfully inspirational. Shalom!

    Reply
  7. Chelsey smith - October 25, 2017 2:11 pm

    Clutch.

    Reply
  8. Desiree - October 25, 2017 2:13 pm

    And this right here is the reason I apply no makeup before reading your stories every morning. ❤️

    Reply
  9. Sue Cronkite - October 25, 2017 2:19 pm

    It takes a church and the people in it to help raise kids. God really does watch over us if we ask Him.

    Reply
  10. MaryJane Breaux - October 25, 2017 2:36 pm

    You always manage to active the overflow valves of my heart. Your inherent power to capture humanity at its finest lift me. Thank you Sean!

    Reply
  11. Carmen - October 25, 2017 2:58 pm

    Another goodie, Sean. Keep ’em coming. 🙂 And thank you.

    Reply
  12. muthahun - October 25, 2017 3:03 pm

    Nothing like a happy ending, and a supportive community.

    Reply
  13. Gordon - October 25, 2017 3:45 pm

    Beautiful story; happy ending. Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  14. Janet Mary Lee - October 25, 2017 4:30 pm

    Lessons for us all….You may not can help the world, but you can help one…that is the start.

    Reply
  15. Gary Manning - October 25, 2017 5:30 pm

    I’m reading this post after my church staff and I spent most of the morning helping one of our newly homeless parishioners navigate the use of a new TracFone because her old phone died yesterday and a cellphone is the only way she has to keep up with the serpentine paths towards any sort of social services. These efforts are largely invisible to the parish as a whole, and I know my staff will stay late today to “get their work done.” Of course, I know that three hours of TracFone tutorial WAS the work for the day. Thank you for reminding me again of the importance of keeping our hearts open to the people around us.

    Reply
  16. Linda Barrett - October 25, 2017 5:38 pm

    I am so very happy to have found you. I have found myself becoming more and more negative about people. You shine the light that helps me to realize there is hope.

    Reply
  17. Dianne DeVore - October 25, 2017 7:19 pm

    Thank you for your stories of man’s humanity to others, and thank you for the tears of happiness this story brought me today. Through your posts, you show us that there are still many, many good people left in this world.

    Reply
  18. jerrykea - October 25, 2017 7:22 pm

    Thanks for this story. Something I needed to hear.

    Reply
  19. Ronnie - October 25, 2017 7:59 pm

    Wow. You did again. What a touching story!

    Reply
  20. agnesspurlock2017 - October 25, 2017 10:48 pm

    I am a positive person, but yesterday I hit a low spot. This post made me cry and then renewed my faith in my fellow man. The world is filled with a lot of bad breaks and meanness. Thank God goodness and love are always there. Sometimes, just a little bit harder to find. Thank you.

    Reply
  21. Julie - October 26, 2017 12:54 am

    Sean, I think you have been told, repeatedly, what a great void you fill with your columns, how you give us faith in our fellow man, & hope for a better day tomorrow. You always write with a humbling spirit & make us cry, smile, & laugh right out loud. Well, I want to tell you again…you are sorely needed…& very appreciated…Thank You!

    Reply
  22. Pat - October 26, 2017 1:15 am

    I’m always watching for God at work…just saw it in this article. Thanks!

    Reply
  23. Marion - October 26, 2017 4:11 am

    Goosebumps and almost tears. Lots of good people out there!

    Reply
  24. Judy Miller - October 26, 2017 1:41 pm

    God is good. Putting Joseph in the right place at the right time.

    Reply
  25. hissking - October 28, 2017 1:28 pm

    The Way Maker, made a way.

    Reply
  26. Kay in Texas - November 8, 2017 10:36 pm

    Wow! God set out that Sunday to give Joseph a miracle and He let the minister participate in bringing it to fruition. How cool is that! Can you imagine being in Heaven, listening to God speak…and then He looks at you and says, “Remember when we…”

    Reply

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