Alabama Savior

Her grief got interrupted. It was a phone call, midday. A high-pitched voice on the other end of the line. A five-year-old in Oklahoma.

The doctor told her she couldn’t have kids. It made her feel broken. Like a busted washing machine. That is, until she met a man with a daughter.

She launched into being a mother.

Motherhood suited her. The little girl’s name was Ella, she came from her husband’s first marriage.

His previous wife disappeared years earlier, turning him into a single father overnight. Some said the woman left because of drugs. Others said she was certifiable.

But none of that mattered now because Ella had a new mother.

The wedding was in a courthouse. After signing the wedding certificate, the happy couple ate lunch at a steakhouse.

“We both had that honeymoon glow,” she said. “It was all I thought it would be.”

Eight months into marriage, the glow got snuffed out. Her husband was on his way home from Atlanta. They believe he fell asleep at the wheel. His car caught fire. He didn’t make it.

“I pretended like I was strong,” she said. “But it was a lie. The whole time, I was like ‘Why God, why? I didn’t even get a full year with him.’”


Her grief got interrupted. It was a phone call, midday. A high-pitched voice on the other end of the line. A five-year-old in Oklahoma.

“Hello ma’am,” said the voice. “Did my dad die?”

The words hit her like a stiff slap.

The little girl’s name was Sandra. His ex-wife had told nobody about her birth. One September day the woman dropped Sandra at a friend’s house and said, “I’ll be back in a few days, honey.”

She never returned.

Our heroine couldn’t sleep for two nights. She thought about Sandra, even though she’d never met her. She re-dialed the Oklahoma number one night.

“Would you like to meet your older sister?” she asked the five-year-old.

Sandra said yes.

She used her vacation time and drove with Ella from Alabama to Oklahoma. They stopped at cheap motor inns, ate truckstop food. They watched America go by at eye-level. They laughed. They talked. They grieved.

Sandra was a dead-ringer for her husband. Many tears were shed. Old photographs were exchanged.

Ella and her sister made an instant bond. They slept in the same bed that night. They ate pizza.

“They wouldn’t let each other go,” her mother says. “There was no way we were letting that child alone.”

So they didn’t. She became Sandra’s mother, and I understand the two sisters still sleep in the same bed sometimes.

That was eight years ago.

“My time with Mark was cut short,” she said. “I’ve always been like, ‘How could this happen, man?’ you know? I didn’t wanna be a widow this young.

“But now I see, there’s a bigger plan to all this. I was put here for these girls, They’re my blood, and we’ve grown up together. We’re still growing. Only family I got.”

Doctors told her she couldn’t have kids.

They lied.


  1. Regina - March 22, 2017 2:17 pm

    Once again, your story touched my heart.

  2. Pat Byers - March 22, 2017 2:46 pm

    Often, events and circumstances don’t have any logical reason to them. But sometimes, if we wait long enough, the reasons are clear. I believe everything has a reason. Sometimes significant, others not. But always a reason. As usual, your words bring goosebumps. And I thank you for writing them.

  3. Cece DuBois - March 22, 2017 2:51 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you.

    • Lisa Ware - March 22, 2017 2:59 pm

      One day I’m going to learn not to read your articles while I’m sitting in public. I’m a blubbering mess & I thank you for sharing.
      Lisa in Mississippi

    • Matty - April 29, 2017 8:22 pm

      I don't have a lot of beautiful words with which to respond to this post, because I'm pretty sure it left me speechless. Speechless, and profoundly encouraged. All the best thgA.sinlso, Red Boot Pearl, I totally get where you're coming from.

  4. Nancy - March 22, 2017 3:02 pm

    Mark chose well when he chose his wife. He could’ve done no better for Ella and Sandra. From a place of barrenness and grief to a loving mother of two. What a story! Beautifully written.

  5. Sandra Marrar - March 22, 2017 3:07 pm

    Another touching story!

  6. Laura Young - March 22, 2017 3:35 pm

    Relationships aren’t defined by blood but by love. Sounds like like this lady had a lot of love to share and those girls needed it. She and they are blessed they have each other. We are all blessed to know her story. There are so many really good people in the world and, if we open our hearts to their stories, we are blessed.

  7. Kay - March 22, 2017 4:00 pm

    Goodness gracious you’ve got to stop it! I’m crying like a crazy person. I truly relate to part of their story. I love the story and how you tell it! I love their have each other.

  8. Bobbie - March 22, 2017 4:15 pm

    One word…Wow! Human spirit alive and well…God Bless them all!

  9. Susie Munz - March 22, 2017 5:06 pm

    Having adopted two babies, and being a widow at 28, I can relate. Great story!

  10. Pamela Smith - March 22, 2017 5:26 pm


  11. Iris Crutchfield - March 22, 2017 6:39 pm

    Beautiful, sad, happy. All in one story!

  12. Maureen - March 22, 2017 8:23 pm

    Love this…

  13. Michael Bishop - March 22, 2017 9:07 pm

    Three heroines in search of a taleteller. They found the right one, just as those girls found the right mom.

  14. Michelle Kibodeaux - March 22, 2017 10:40 pm

    Beautiful story

  15. Nansi Sparks - March 23, 2017 1:38 am

    At family reunions I usually make the statement that we are all family, whether by blood or love. Wonderful story about a special family! Thank you for sharing.

  16. Teresa Lovejoy - March 23, 2017 1:41 am

    Sean, you are one fantastic writer!

  17. Cherryl Shiver - March 23, 2017 9:55 am

    Oh, I have the Glory bumps,…..Momma Cotney said they were called Glory bumps, not goose bumps…..

    Just goes t show, the Lord always has a plan…you just have to be willing to follow.

    I LOVE happy ending, don’t you?

  18. Anna - March 23, 2017 9:21 pm

    The story about the woman who couldn’t have children was beautiful. Giving birth doesn’t make a woman a Mother. Raising a child does.

  19. Charaleen Wright - April 15, 2019 4:03 am

  20. Cal - December 18, 2020 3:44 am

    Thank you. ❤️


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