Single-Wide Saint

She was a mother all over again. She did all the maternal things. She packed sack lunches, paid for field trips, attended PTA meetings, and hollered at baseball games.

She was a tough woman. Forty-some years ago, she was a single parent who’d raised her daughter into adulthood on nothing but pennies and late shifts.

She and her daughter were tight. They lived together until her daughter was in her twenties.

Then, her daughter got pregnant by a man who did a disappearing act.

The pregnancy was a painful and complicated one. Doctors said something was wrong. When her daughter went into labor, things got ugly. They say there was a lot of blood.

It was a boy. The baby almost died, but he pulled through.

Her daughter didn’t.

It was a small funeral. She said goodbye to her daughter and stayed until the end. She watched a front-loader dump fresh soil over an expensive casket.

She could’ve been angry. Angry with doctors. Angry at the deadbeat who got her daughter pregnant. Angry at life. Or at God.

But she had a newborn, there wasn’t time for anger. Instead, she fed him, bathed him, and stayed up late, whispering into his ear. She changed dirty diapers, sang to him, and taught him to speak.

She smoked cigarettes and rocked him to sleep on the front steps, watching the moon.

She wasn’t a young woman. She had gray in her hair and lines around her eyes. She wasn’t far from retirement age, but she was lightyears away from retirement.

She joined a local Methodist church. Not because she was spiritual, but because they offered free daycare. She dropped the boy there while she worked a day shift.

They say she received weekly church assistance—brown sacks of baby formula and groceries.

She was a mother all over again. She did all the maternal things. She packed sack lunches, paid for field trips, attended PTA meetings, and hollered at baseball games.

And during the high-school years, she took an extra job at a supermarket to pay for all the pleasantries that teenagers need. Things like: blue jeans with tattered knees, cassette-tape players with headphones, and used Chevy two-doors.

They say she never lost her clarity. She was sharp until the end. She was a temperate woman—except for cigarettes. She didn’t drink—though she would sip champagne at weddings. She didn’t cuss. She wouldn’t complain. And she never took medication doctors gave her.

The boy is an adult. He has a family of his own. He earns enough for a comfortable life by building houses.

In fact, he built the sunporch which is attached to her single-wide trailer. The same room they found her in a few mornings ago.

A cigarette was still burning. The television was on. Photographs of her daughter and grandson were on the side table, only a few feet from her.

She was the woman you’ve seen in traffic a hundred times. She worked at every grocery store, fast-food counter, hotel, and gas station you’ve ever been to. Maybe you missed her, but she was there.

You might never hear her name uttered down here on this earth.

But she’s downright famous where she is now.

25 comments

  1. Jon Dragonfly - August 20, 2017 12:20 pm

    What counts is not what you live in, but what lives in your heart.
    Rest in peace.

    Reply
  2. Lucretia Jones - August 20, 2017 12:26 pm

    Thank you, Sean. . .

    Reply
  3. Katch - August 20, 2017 12:34 pm

    Not all angels have wings….

    Reply
    • Pamela McEachern - August 21, 2017 3:00 am

      You are so right, I have personally known many. God Bless

      Reply
  4. Connie - August 20, 2017 12:45 pm

    On behalf of all single grandmothers who have raised much loved children, thank you. I can’t wait to see you in my little town and hopefully shake your hand. You are a blessing.

    Reply
  5. Rev. Steve Baccus - August 20, 2017 12:51 pm

    You’re doggone right, Sean. She’s downright famous where she is now.

    Reply
  6. Sandra Marrar - August 20, 2017 1:07 pm

    She sounds like some women I know…God rest her soul.

    Reply
  7. Candace Cartee Bradford - August 20, 2017 1:11 pm

    New Fan of Sean Dietrich, as a Southerner, I love every word that comes out of your mouth!

    Reply
  8. Linda - August 20, 2017 1:11 pm

    Such a lovely tribute.

    Reply
  9. Catherine - August 20, 2017 1:14 pm

    WOW! ❤

    Reply
  10. Cathi Russell - August 20, 2017 1:26 pm

    Yeah, I know her too. And so does God.

    Reply
  11. NovaLee - August 20, 2017 2:30 pm

    Reminds me of my Gram. Thanks, Sean.❤

    Reply
  12. Sherrie - August 20, 2017 3:29 pm

    R.I.P. and God rest her soul. You’ve reminded me, isn’t there a custom or belief somewhere that people have a secret name given by God inscribed on the hearts of our souls? Not our everyday names, but one only God knows us by.

    Reply
  13. Pamela McEachern - August 20, 2017 5:48 pm

    God bless such beautiful souls, called Grandmother and Grandfather. I believe in Heaven. Thank you Sean

    Reply
  14. Nancy - August 20, 2017 5:54 pm

    A better lesson than a slew of Sunday sermons! Thank you, Sean, for seeing holiness in our world today.

    Reply
  15. Susan in Georgia - August 20, 2017 6:44 pm

    Beautiful tribute to a Saint, near and dear to God’s heart. Thanks for sharing this with us, Sean.

    Reply
  16. Debbie Galladora - August 20, 2017 7:04 pm

    💔

    Reply
  17. Jack Quanstrum - August 20, 2017 7:15 pm

    Absolutely touching story. How wonderful, how sad. I feel both feelings in my heart simultaneously very heavily. That’s a story of real life. More then I can fully comprehend right now. It is almost like a knive in my heart. I hurt so bad for her. But I positively agree she is a saint that we only know because you shared her with us. Thank you for that gift to us of a synopsis of her life. It makes me want to search my soul to check if I am being the Good Samaritin! Yes Sean I believe she is famous where she is now. Thank you Sean you have given me something to shoot for. Shalom!

    Reply
  18. Sam Hunneman - August 20, 2017 8:34 pm

    Whew. Got me…

    Reply
  19. Trudy :) - August 20, 2017 8:48 pm

    God and the boy will be the ones to say, “Thank you”, and her daughter, too, when she sees her in Heaven. I know all too well about raising a grandchild. I’ve raised 2 who are special needs. They call me, “Mom”; I call them blessings.
    Thank you, Sean for a very poignant piece today. There are saints among us and we don’t even know.

    Reply
  20. Linda Allen - August 20, 2017 8:53 pm

    You sure have a way to go straight to our hearts…amazing empathy. Love your writing!

    Reply
  21. Pat - August 20, 2017 9:46 pm

    The invisible angel warriors who save lives and ask for nothing – blessed are the humble….

    Reply
  22. annie@ciaochowbambina - August 21, 2017 6:43 pm

    A friend of mine introduced me to your blog and I’m so happy she did. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

    Reply
  23. Gerald - October 5, 2017 2:13 pm

    She could have been my grandmother 60 years ago except my grandmother dipped instead of smoked and I didn’t build houses.

    Reply
  24. Laura Goslee - October 5, 2017 3:53 pm

    Such a beautiful tribute to her immense love and beauty. Thankful for churches who help too!

    Reply

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