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…