Love Is a Many Splendid Thing

Peggy was married when she was 18 years old. Her parents weren’t in favor of the wedding, but Peggy was in love. Hopelessly in love. He was a good man. He called her “babydoll.” She called him “love nugget.”

The two love nuggets moved to northern Alabama. He got a decent job. So did she. They were the poster children for their generation. They listened to Perry Como, drove enormous cars with big tailfins, ate congealed salads. It was a good marriage all the way. They didn’t just love each other, they truly liked each other.

The first obstacle, however, was having children. The doctor told Peggy she was barren. That’s the exact word old-time doctors used.

There weren’t any modern infertility treatments. In those days, a family doctor would merely tap his unfiltered Camel over his medical-grade ashtray and tell you that you were barren.

So Peggy planned to adopt. She was not daunted by the news about her infertility, not even remotely. She is tough. And she was not about to pass her lifetime without holding a tiny love nugget in her arms.

Peggy would find her nugget many years later, one summer afternoon, by way of a civic women’s group meeting. She remembers the exact day it happened.

She was in a school assembly hall. She was sitting in a metal fold-up chair. These were the kinds of rusty metal folding chairs every church, civic league, and PTA once used in America.

Peggy recalls this chair with vivid clarity because when someone at the meeting told Peggy about an abandoned newborn at the local hospital who needed adopting, Peggy stood abruptly from her chair and announced, “Take me to the hospital right now.”

But when Peggy shot to her feet she heard something rip. Her skirt had become stuck in the inner workings of this folding chair, and now it was torn. It took three women to get her unstuck.

After fiddling with the dress for several minutes, someone finally yanked Peggy’s skirt so hard that the garment ripped, leaving Peggy with a gaping hole which exposed her blindingly white upper thigh.

The ladies gasped.

“You have to go home and change,” someone said.

“No,” said Peggy. “I’m going to the hospital. I don’t want anyone to get their hands on my baby.”

“But we can see your…”

“Oh honestly, Linda. They’re just underpants for heaven’s sake.”

So Peggy rushed her half-bare backside across town to the hospital, and when she entered the maternity ward she was instantly drawn to the orphaned child.

If you can just imagine this scene: a tall, slender woman in her early-forties, with teased hair, pearls, smelling of bath powder, holding a newborn in her arms, with one thigh exposed to God and country.

That’s how it happened.

She named the baby after her grandfather. And the quirky story of that fateful adoption would be told and retold at various reunions and get-togethers for years to come.

Well, a lot has changed since those early days. Peggy’s husband died a few years ago. And Peggy’s adult son moved his family to Boston for work. And because of her son’s unique job, travel isn’t an option during COVID. Peggy hasn’t seen them for over a year.

The term “loneliness” took on new meaning when the pandemic hit. Everything in Peggy’s life came to a standstill. She quit going to the supermarket, her church shut down, she stopped hanging out with girlfriends, no more shopping.

A young man delivers groceries on Wednesdays. Someone cuts her grass during the summer. She hardly uses her car. The solitude is sometimes so overwhelming that it could make your ears ring.

She reads a lot. She watches TV. She overfeeds her cat. She eats ice cream for breakfast.

But a few days ago, something happened.

Peggy was in her den, thumbing through a magazine, when she heard footsteps on her porch. At first she didn’t bother to get up. She figured it was a delivery. Although this was the wrong day for grocery deliveries. How unusual. Who could it be?

She walked to the door and peeped out the window. “What on earth?” she said.

There were delivery men. Two or three men. They were all wearing matching green shirts, carrying massive bouquets in their arms. In her driveway she saw two florist delivery vans.

The men unloaded flowers after flowers until the bouquets filled her porch like a floral explosion of pinks, whites, yellows, and reds. Neighbors gathered on the street to gawk.

When the delivery vehicles finally pulled away, the old woman stepped onto her florid porch and found herself in a bona fide jungle. It was staggering. All these flowers must have cost a fortune.

There was a card. She read it. The card went something like: “To the lovely woman with the torn dress…”

She placed a hand over her mouth and choked back tears. Peggy still remembers that day in the hospital clearly. The joy she felt, holding a warm baby. The beautiful smile on her husband’s face. Theirs wasn’t a perfect life, but oh, was it pretty.

Then. She heard something. She stopped reading. What was that sound?

It was singing.

She walked around her home into her side yard. She was shocked to find a familiar young man with his wife and two children. He’d come all the way from Boston.

The young family was singing loudly. Surgical masks covered their faces. And when the singers bellowed the lyrics, “Happy birthday, dear Grandma…!” Peggy felt her chest become warm and her eyes begin to burn. Because it’s been a long year.

And there’s nothing half as wonderful as seeing your love nuggets on your 84th birthday.

46 comments

  1. Betty - March 7, 2021 6:16 am

    This brought tears to my eyes, well said. Thank you 🙏 I look forward every night to reading your post.

    Reply
  2. Christina - March 7, 2021 6:18 am

    Bless her and her love nuggets!

    Reply
  3. Nan - March 7, 2021 6:23 am

    Thanks for the beautiful story – I am in tears! Tears of joy for this wonderful Mother who got to see her love nugget. I haven’t seen my 50 year old love nugget in 19 months (he moved to NC) and I miss him ever so much.😢 Happy 84th Birthday, Peggy!!!!🥰

    Reply
  4. Martha Burke - March 7, 2021 6:24 am

    Beautiful story of love! I wish every woman that is like a “Peggy”, with or without children could feel a splendid love during this lonely time because of Covid.

    Reply
  5. Bob E - March 7, 2021 6:40 am

    WOW!

    Reply
  6. Jan - March 7, 2021 6:58 am

    Precious story of love – beautifully told! Thank you!

    Reply
  7. Susan Forte - March 7, 2021 11:27 am

    So beautiful!!♥️♥️♥️

    Reply
  8. Ann - March 7, 2021 12:18 pm

    Now my eyes are burning!!🥲🥰❤️❤️❤️
    (

    Reply
  9. Becky Kaufman - March 7, 2021 12:25 pm

    and once again, I’m crying before breakfast.

    Reply
  10. Leia Cathey - March 7, 2021 12:33 pm

    ❤️❤️

    Reply
  11. Jo Ann - March 7, 2021 12:45 pm

    Sweet story!! What a clever & loving son & family.

    Reply
  12. E. Ann P. - March 7, 2021 12:46 pm

    Another classic one, Sean. Thanks! BTW, are you also the artist responsible for the artwork I sometimes see on your columns? I enjoy them too, and I wonder who… your baby sketch is beautiful. It would be lovely to know who drew it.

    Reply
    • Catherine - March 14, 2021 5:27 pm

      Yes, I was also wondering about the artwork. I saw your name on the drawing of your well loved truck, but not on the other sketches. Are they all yours? You already an artist with words; it doesn’t surprise me that you are also a visual artist!

      Reply
  13. Gay - March 7, 2021 12:51 pm

    Do you know you are the bright spot in so many people’s lives? The world is a better place because you were born.

    Reply
  14. MARGARET Ruth KLARNER - March 7, 2021 1:18 pm

    Tears

    Reply
  15. Vanessa - March 7, 2021 1:22 pm

    Beautiful!!!! Thank you for starting my day with such an excellent and wonderfully written story! You are a blessing to me. I’ve been reading your writing every morning for over 3 years. I say this often but I do believe this is one of my favorites ever!

    Reply
  16. Dave Wilson - March 7, 2021 1:28 pm

    Brought a tear to my eyes! Thank you.

    Reply
  17. Molly - March 7, 2021 1:38 pm

    Another beautiful story!! Sean, you are so gifted. Thank you for letting us be apart of this beautiful story!!

    Reply
  18. Anne C - March 7, 2021 1:39 pm

    I know just how Peggy felt! My son and his beautiful family surprised me for my 73rd birthday in much the same way. It was Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday rolled into one when they appeared at our front door on New Year’s Eve! Glorious surprise!

    Reply
  19. Leigh R Amiot - March 7, 2021 1:57 pm

    Happy Birthday, Peggy!!!

    Many of us are so ready for this type reunion! I haven’t seen my granddaughters in 13 months, and I have a 13-month-old grandson I’ve not seen in person. All live 1,600 miles away. The modern marvel of FaceTime helps, but there is nothing like an in person visit and good old-fashioned hugs.

    Reply
  20. Eleanor - March 7, 2021 2:02 pm

    So nice, it brought tears to my eyes….

    Reply
  21. Dean - March 7, 2021 2:05 pm

    Beautiful story. So great to read something with a happy ending. Happy Birthday Peggy.
    Thanks for starting my day off with a great story

    Reply
  22. Julie - March 7, 2021 2:24 pm

    WOW, Sean…just Wow❣️ And thank you for a new term of endearment…”LOVE NUGGETS”…how preciously sweet is that 💝💘💖

    Reply
  23. Sharon Brock - March 7, 2021 2:27 pm

    My youngest granddaughter surprised me with a visit in late July of last year. She had driven her mother to a medical appointment. Our hug lasted five minutes and we were in tears when it ended. Surprise hugs are the best.

    Reply
  24. Iris Hamlin - March 7, 2021 3:06 pm

    My eyes began to sting when she torn her skirt and began to flow when she got to the hospital. With so much wrong in our world, I truly need your wonderful stories. Thank you, Sean. You are a fine man. Your mail in my inbox is my daily devotional.

    Reply
  25. Phil Jennings - March 7, 2021 3:20 pm

    Absolutely beautiful!

    Reply
  26. Al Cato - March 7, 2021 4:06 pm

    Preach on Pastor Sean!!! I say this will all respect. We need good, uplifting stories to remind us that Good, Hope, Encouragement and Blessings abound in our world. Thank you for being a Blessing to all of us who enjoy your stories. Never think for a nano-second that you don’t make a difference.

    Reply
  27. Barbara J Schweck - March 7, 2021 4:51 pm

    Crying again, dear Sean!!!

    Reply
  28. Linda Moon - March 7, 2021 5:34 pm

    At first, I thought this love story was about My Guy and me, with names changed to protect the innocent. We made two beautiful children, so I quickly knew your story was not about us. I imagined Peggy’s scene, but this Linda (me) wouldn’t have stopped Peggy just because of visible underpants. Holding back tears was hard as I imagined Peggy’s family singing to her on her 84th birthday. The way it all happened was beautiful, from 18 to 84!

    Reply
  29. Donna Melikian - March 7, 2021 6:17 pm

    OH! You have touched my heart today. Tears and smiles. Thank you, Donna

    Reply
  30. Donna Melikian - March 7, 2021 6:28 pm

    We have received our vaccines, so we can finally see our precious love bundle. We adopted her 49 years ago from an orphanage. She was 5 months old and only weighed 10 lbs. We have been so blessed. She and her husband are the delight of our lives. Your story brought back so many memories. Happy birthday to a wonderful Mother. Donna

    Reply
  31. MAM - March 7, 2021 7:41 pm

    And I don’t just have leaking eyes this morning, they are overflowing as I sit here bawling, because we haven’t see our kids in well over a year—almost 2 years for one of them.. How I wish! And birthday blessings to Peggy!

    Reply
  32. Lisa Weir - March 7, 2021 7:52 pm

    Sean, your hits just keep on coming! I am having a hard time seeing the screen right now because of the tears. This story touches my heart in many different places. In 2003, I became the mother of two beautiful baby girls adopted from a Kazakhstan orphanage. They are now 18 and 19 and the joys of my life. What’s more is that I was adopted by my daddy who married my mother when I was two. Adoption stories are beautiful. My mother will have a birthday at the end of March and I’ve been inspired by this column to do something EXTRA SPECIAL for her on her 77th birthday. My girls will definitely join me in making her birthday a very special one. We are blessed to all live in the same small town. God bless you and God bless Peggy and her love nugget.

    Reply
  33. Mary - March 7, 2021 8:11 pm

    Beautiful story! Thank you.

    Reply
  34. Winifred Brown - March 7, 2021 8:55 pm

    This story hit very close to home. My children have been my salvation since we were all isolated. Bless your heart for detailing this one for those who are fortunate to not be alone now.

    Reply
  35. Sue Cronkite - March 7, 2021 9:22 pm

    Another great one!

    Reply
  36. Pat - March 7, 2021 9:22 pm

    Happy birthday Peggy!

    Reply
  37. Linda Holmes - March 7, 2021 11:02 pm

    Crying again

    Reply
  38. Carol Vaughan - March 8, 2021 12:43 am

    You are a remarkable writer!! I, too, look forward to your daily writing. Thank you! Just about to start reading your new book.

    Reply
  39. elizabethroosje - March 8, 2021 3:27 am

    oh that’s beautiful Sean! thank you! I love how you bring stories to life here!

    Reply
  40. Sandi. - March 8, 2021 5:55 am

    Happy 84th Birthday to Peggy, and a huge “Thank you” to Sean for telling us her story!

    Reply
  41. KENNETH NELSON - March 8, 2021 1:20 pm

    You did it again, Sean. You caused a 74 year old cynic’s eyes to water. Thank you.

    Reply
  42. Linda - March 8, 2021 4:18 pm

    How wonderful!!! There is still so much love in this world!!! Wow and Wow!! Thank you.

    Reply
  43. joseybell - March 9, 2021 3:39 pm

    Darn! Made me cry again. And YES! Love is a many splendored thing!

    Reply
  44. Kathi harper-hill - March 10, 2021 6:28 pm

    My heart sang! Our daughter is adopted and when you know, you know. I’d done anything to get to her, including riding through downtown Atlanta at the first of July with no air conditioning. Which we did.

    Reply
  45. Kate - March 11, 2021 12:56 pm

    My brother and his wife adopted two children a few days after they were born, what joy they have been to our family. We love them dearly. They are now 29 and 25. Love is a many splendid thing.

    Reply

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