The Talker

“People thought I’s crazy,” the old woman says. “They all told me: ‘You’re not even married, you don’t have kids, you don’t even know what you’re doing. But I told them all where they could—”

Winn-Dixie—they remodeled this store not long ago. It’s something else. A little too fancy, if you ask me.

I’ve been shopping here since the old days. Back then, it was your average supermarket. Linoleum floors, decent beef, clinically depressed cashiers.

Today, they have deli counters that sell salmon sushi. I’d rather lick the restroom floor than eat salmon sushi.

The woman behind me in the checkout line is old. She is frail, with white hair, and big glasses. She is every American granny you’ve ever seen. I’ll bet the closest she ever came to sushi was a wild night at the Baptist clothing swap.

She is holding onto her daughter for support.

Her daughter is Hispanic—black hair, dark skin, late fifties. The two women couldn’t look more different.

They have a full cart. They have purchased all the usual supermarket fare. Chicken, tuna cans, jars of peanut butter, Duke’s mayonnaise, Colonial Bread, and enough paper towels to sink the U.S.S. Uruguay.

We make friends.

The old woman tells me about herself.

She adopted her Hispanic daughter when the girl was three. The toddler had been abandoned at a shopping complex. The child didn’t understand English, and she was sick with a chest infection.

“She almost died,” the old woman says. “I had to do something to help.”

The old woman met the girl at a foster facility. Some of the her church friends used to visit local foster homes to give attention to needy children.

“There were only a few of us who did that,” the old woman goes on. “We were so young. We’d hold the babies, play games, read stories, sing to’em sometimes. You know, mom stuff.”

Mom stuff.

“Kids need touching to survive,” the lady adds. “It’s been proven. Look it up.”

I’ll have to do that.

Anyway, she couldn’t put the toddler down. She held the sick girl in her arms until her elbows froze. She visited the girl several times per day to hold the child.

And as fate would have it, the child started to get better. The doctors said the affection was working like magic.

After the baby recovered the motherly attention didn’t stop. She adopted the girl and brought her home.

“People thought I’s crazy,” the old woman says. “They all told me: ‘You’re not even married, you don’t have kids, you don’t even know what you’re doing. But I told them all where they could—”

Our conversation is cut short. It’s time for Granny to pay for her grocery bill and our chit-chat is holding up the line.

Even so, Granny decides to tell the rest of her tale.

The man in line behind me gives me dirty look.

Take a number, pal.

Eventually, the woman got married. He was a kind hearted man who worked on air conditioners. He took care of his girls. He was a good father. She was a good mother.

The Hispanic woman removes a cellphone and shows me photos of the family. In the image is a man and woman with a Hispanic fourth-grade girl on their laps. They are overflowing in the happiness department.

I follow the ladies to their car and help them load a few bags.

Daughter helps Granny into the passenger seat. Granny kisses her daughter on the cheek, but isn’t ready to finish our story. Her daughter insists.

So Granny says:

“This beautiful girl made me a mother. If you write a story about us, make sure you write about how absolutely breathtaking she is.”

Her daughter shuts the door and says, “Sorry, we didn’t mean to talk your head off. My mom is a talker.”

Don’t be silly. It was the highlight of my day.

By the way, you’re breathtaking.

22 comments

  1. Cathi - May 23, 2018 5:16 pm

    Sean, I was worried when you didn’t pop up this morning! I was so afraid something had happened. Love the story, as always…you’re always breathtaking in the words department. ❤

    Reply
  2. Linda D. - May 23, 2018 5:35 pm

    Your coffe klatch readers missed you this morning! But this story was worth the wait. You’re the best, Sean.

    Reply
  3. CKD - May 23, 2018 5:42 pm

    I was a bit nervous too. You are always what I read first thing in the morning. Your story was wonderful! I hope both mother and daughter read it. They sound like amazing people.

    Reply
  4. bill prather - May 23, 2018 5:45 pm

    enjoy your writing. have a good friend who played at TR Miller. You kinda/sorta write like a country song. Dogs, old folks, kindness, do unto others kinda stuff. If you get a chance google “The craddock center” we do good stuff for kids.
    bill

    Reply
  5. janiesjottings - May 23, 2018 5:46 pm

    Sean, I want you to know I am living vicariously through your stories. I (try to) write too but I keep babies in my home and don’t get out much. I struggle to find things to write about. I’m shy too, it’s seldom that I can strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. I love that you do that all the time and that these people trust you to tell their story. You do it better than anyone else. I hope you never quit writing and thank you for sharing your gift for story telling with the rest of us. The world needs more writers like Sean Dietrich!

    Reply
    • Glenda H - May 23, 2018 10:22 pm

      YEP, tee totally agree!!!

      Reply
  6. Perri Williamson - May 23, 2018 5:58 pm

    What a great story!

    Reply
  7. Leia Lona - May 23, 2018 6:05 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  8. Connie Havard Ryland - May 23, 2018 6:18 pm

    Beautiful story. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Risa W. Leary - May 23, 2018 6:20 pm

    I am right there with you on the sushi Sean!

    Reply
  10. Gary - May 23, 2018 7:15 pm

    You were late, Sean. But the mom’s motherly love more than made up for it. Thanks.

    Reply
  11. Tara Simon - May 23, 2018 7:45 pm

    Late, schmate. I’m glad when you show up in my email, no matter what time. It’s always a very welcome departure from spam and bills!

    Also, you made me cry again. But that’s also a welcome departure from spam and bills, and happy tears are the best way to ruin mascara and bring up the spirits.

    Good decision to skip the landlocked Winn Dixie’s salmon sushi. Although if you ever find yourself in South Florida, I know of a great sushi restaurant that just might change your mind. (Shameless plug for my favorite little hole in the wall, Masamune.)

    Reply
  12. Joy Luke - May 23, 2018 7:52 pm

    As an adopted child whose Forever Mother was a talker I really appreciated this story. Brought back many sweet memories.

    Reply
  13. Janet Benjamin - May 23, 2018 8:07 pm

    I so needed this today. Thank you.

    Reply
  14. Larry Blumen - May 23, 2018 9:41 pm

    I want to help you out any way I can. Here’s a link that will get you started: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospitalism

    Reply
  15. Beth Reed - May 23, 2018 11:01 pm

    Breathing Indeed. Great Story.

    Reply
  16. Jeannie Durley - May 23, 2018 11:24 pm

    Love love love your stories !!!

    Reply
  17. Matt - May 23, 2018 11:41 pm

    Love it!

    Reply
  18. Jack Darnell - May 24, 2018 12:50 am

    I like mama!

    Reply
  19. Jack Quanstrum - May 24, 2018 2:20 am

    Beautiful story Sean. Keep talking and writing!

    Reply
  20. Robin - May 24, 2018 9:24 am

    Our second daughter was born 4 weeks early. She had fluids on her lungs and was in NICU. The doctor prepared us that she might not make it. My grandmother told my my mother if they will let Robin hold Julianna, she’ll start getting better. That was 25 years ago. Julianna just received her state license for massage therapy. How ironic….the human touch does help heal.

    Reply
  21. Edna B. - May 24, 2018 2:56 pm

    Hmmm, I could swear I left you a comment here, but I guess Google ate it. Love the story Sean. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply

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