“Howdy,” is the woman’s first word to me.

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.

“Howdy,” is the woman’s first word to me.

“Howdy,” I say.

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.

20 comments

  1. Nell Thomas - May 21, 2019 7:03 am

    If only people would take time to listen. It could really make a difference in someone’s life. Sometime- just a “hello, how are you.?”
    Bless your heart, Sean. We love you for that.

    Reply
  2. Karen - May 21, 2019 8:30 am

    Your stories are breathtaking. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Cathi Russell - May 21, 2019 8:48 am

    That story is like the hit at the end of “The Natural”…thanks Roy, um Sean!

    Reply
  4. Steve Bailey - May 21, 2019 9:40 am

    beautiful.

    Reply
  5. Connie Havard Ryland - May 21, 2019 10:17 am

    Beautiful story. If only it were so adopt these days. There are so many who want to be parents, and so many children who need someone to love them. And yes, the healing power of touch can’t be denied. My last “baby” is 20 and got married recently. I miss having little ones around. Thank you for your ability to listen to people, and your talent in telling their stories. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  6. Joe Patterson - May 21, 2019 11:48 am

    Thanks again

    Reply
  7. Edna B. - May 21, 2019 1:05 pm

    Sean, I just love how you listen and find a story where ever you go. There are so many interesting folks out there and we’re getting to meet a lot of them through you. Thank you. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  8. BJean - May 21, 2019 1:29 pm

    Sean, I’d say you’ve gotten over any “attachment issues” you may have ever had! Sometimes kids from “broken” homes” grow up with those. But you just hone in on people and don’t let go. I love it! Your radar seems to pick up on the essence of a person behind the appearance, and you don’t turn away. Love.

    Reply
  9. Tina Harman - May 21, 2019 2:01 pm

    This touched my heart more than I can tell you. I was a foster child, and I can promise you that you are absolutely right about children needing loving touches. Also, I love the way you listen to people and really hear them. Then you share it with all of us. Thank you so much. You have a tremendous gift!

    Reply
  10. Shelton A. - May 21, 2019 2:06 pm

    Affection and touch does improve a baby’s health in the short term and long term. God bless her for stepping up and taking a risk with that child. She is a life saver! Thanks for one of your best so far.

    Reply
  11. Heather Felt - May 21, 2019 2:37 pm

    As another mom who adopted a little Hispanic girl (and boy) from Colombia, I have to say mine are breathtaking as well. The perfect word. Sean, you’re a highlight of every day. Don’t ever stop writing.

    Reply
  12. Carla - May 21, 2019 3:06 pm

    I’ve followed your blog for months and look forward to reading your new post each morning. This particular article really touched my heart. My husband and I adopted our two children from South Korea when they were babies. They are almost grown now, but will always be my babies. Adoption is a special and wonderful way to build a family.

    Reply
  13. Sharon Carr - May 21, 2019 3:44 pm

    This one made me cry. Except the salmon sushi part.

    Reply
  14. Alice Riley - May 21, 2019 4:35 pm

    I love your stories.

    Reply
  15. Ala Red Clay Girl - May 21, 2019 4:55 pm

    I also adopted a Hispanic baby when I thought I was long past the baby rearing stage. I have never regretted that decision. BTW, I just read Southern Living (June issue), “50 Reasons to Love Summer in the South”. Reason no. 31 was Sean of the South’s podcasts. Only I would have ranked you at no. 1 and it wouldn’t have only been for the summer but year-round!

    Reply
  16. Jack Darnell - May 21, 2019 9:45 pm

    Some people actually follow their heart to the full extent. Granny knew what she wanted to do and did it. I love it.
    Good one dude.
    Sherry & jack over in NC

    Reply
  17. John OBryan - May 26, 2019 12:24 am

    I can attest, I married an emotional Latina at age 57, wish I had met her when I was 17. She is amazing.

    Reply
  18. Catherine VanDruff - June 21, 2019 12:10 pm

    Love your posts. My sister-in-law got me started. Your one of the things I like to start my morning off with after my Bible study. (Bet your mama would like that.)

    Reply
  19. Lora Abernathy - June 21, 2019 9:36 pm

    Loved this story. Thanks for sharing it.

    Reply
  20. Steve Tank Clark - June 22, 2019 2:22 am

    I love your stories! They help get each day started! Keep them coming!

    Reply

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