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.
Nancy Rogers - January 11, 2019 10:32 am
Anen The Angels are rejoicing to welcone one of their own home.
Steven P Bailey - January 11, 2019 10:41 am
Elizabeth - January 11, 2019 11:22 am
BEST last line, ever.
Susan Kennedy - January 11, 2019 11:46 am
Elizabeth Edens - January 11, 2019 11:52 am
Dang allergies, blurred vision.
Tom - January 11, 2019 12:17 pm
We need to all say thank you to these Angels and look for ways to help. The older I get the better I see them!
Edna B. - January 11, 2019 12:52 pm
I have no words. This is beautiful. Sean, you have a wonderful day, Hugs, Edna B.
Debbie Britt - January 11, 2019 1:04 pm
Eyes watering nose burning!?
Jennifer Phillipson - January 11, 2019 1:19 pm
Jackye Thompson - January 11, 2019 1:19 pm
What a sweet story on a wonderful women.She is dancing in heaven .Jackye
Becca - January 11, 2019 1:28 pm
Bless you Sean, for seeing the Angels the rest of us look right through.
Liz Watkins - January 11, 2019 2:08 pm
Beautiful story showing the love of a Mother❤️
Beki Denison - January 11, 2019 2:26 pm
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
And may we ALL have better eyes to actually SEE these folks who often go unnoticed but are in our lives every single day
Carol - January 11, 2019 2:57 pm
Cathi - January 11, 2019 3:29 pm
May we all have better vision. I will, after I get finished drying my eyes. This was one of your best, Sean. Thank you.
Sheila - January 11, 2019 3:57 pm
Sandra Smith - January 11, 2019 4:19 pm
Thank you, Sean. ❤
Rebecca - January 11, 2019 4:28 pm
One of your best!
Shelton A. - January 11, 2019 4:55 pm
She was, and is, an angel. Terrific story…
Jack Darnell - January 11, 2019 4:55 pm
I am thankful that today I can comment. This is the BEST, sorta better than the other BEST you wrote. I just wanted to say thanks not for me, but for all the REAL mothers out there, many will never read this, but live it. You are good dude, I like it.
Jack Darnell - January 11, 2019 5:00 pm
PS: Since I can comment, I sent this to my entire family. Thanks again!
Pamela McEachern - January 11, 2019 5:27 pm
I have had so many angels in my life. Most are now in heaven and I am grateful for the ones that are still here with me. Not all were true Mothers, but you couldn’t believe that by the loving way I was treated. Bless you for this sweet way you honored them and the others by your words today.
Peace and Love from Birmingham ?
Margaret Cade - January 11, 2019 5:30 pm
Loved this. Had a sweet mother-in-law like this precious woman. She recently passed away at 98 years old. ❤️
Richard Parks - January 11, 2019 6:16 pm
Bob Hubbard, Sr. - January 11, 2019 10:30 pm
Some of us just do not have the ability to see what you do in people. I’m sure I know many folks like the ones you write about, and most of the time in my 80 plus years just saw right through them. I try to do better than that now, but still wish I had your vision of people. All God’s children need your vision – starting with me. God bless you.
Steve Winfield - January 12, 2019 1:43 am
Not only do you have the ability to see good in others, you have the awsome ability to help others see the same. That’s huge. I certainly did not think that reading a daily column could change me this much. Like I said. Huge. Love you!
Janet Mary Lee - January 13, 2019 8:34 pm
I can not write better words than were written by you or those above in this column. But I can say Thank You and I do!! (and pass it on in words and actions. Bless you and yours!!
Edy - January 15, 2019 2:17 am
That’s a nice tribute.
Gale Smith - February 10, 2019 7:49 am
You see people the way God sees them. Their outer description is less important than their inner one. Once you learn to do this, you will find a lot more of them “made in his image.”
Linda James - February 10, 2019 8:23 am
YOUR STORIES prompts others that rise up inside the reader. Like the lady that I know whose daughter was bipolar and was too “sick” to raise her two children. My friend, the grandmother, never hesitated to take them and raise them. The oldest, is in college now. A fine, hardworking, lovable man. The youngest, a girl, has just learned to drive. Granny and Pawpaw are beginning to look their years, but never thought twice about rescuing their grandchildren from a much different life that was devoid of the opportunities they have now.
Ceil44 - February 10, 2019 12:57 pm
Yes, I think I’ve known her. God bless her and all those who have raised another’s child.
Donna - February 10, 2019 1:08 pm
Chrissy - February 10, 2019 2:01 pm
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
unkle Kenny - February 10, 2019 4:43 pm
Grandmother can and does become mother on a lot of occasions. It is there super power. Good one Sean.
Kathryn - February 11, 2019 3:04 pm
My eyes are leaking!! One of your very best!
Trish - May 10, 2021 11:46 am
Just beautiful! ❤️
Sam Seetin - May 10, 2021 2:33 pm
I only cry when I hear the “Army Song” with an exception… teared up after reading this prophetic story. Uncle Sam
Rebecca Souders - May 10, 2021 6:30 pm
Tears here, too. Brava to those brave mothers and bravo to you, Sean Dietrich, for honoring them.
Dawnie B - May 11, 2021 7:46 pm
Burning eyes on this. Such a strong woman with a heart that held all of her pain, loss, and love. She had a lot to give and she wasn’t one to give up. A beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing their story💕
Mallory - May 17, 2021 12:21 pm
Worth the read! ❤️