Small-Town Girl

“After all these years,” she said. “I’ve learned to never give up hope. Even when there ain’t nothing left to hope in. Hoping is how a body stays alive, I think.”

Small-town Alabama in the early sixties. A period of horn-rimmed glasses, Coke fountains, and Johnny Cash on the radio waves.

She married her high-school sweetheart. They did the things adolescent couples do. They sat shoulder-to-shoulder at drugstore counters. They argued loud enough to wake neighbors.

They tried to make a family. But couldn’t.

“Oh, did we try,” the old woman says. “Doctor told me I could take a brand-new ovulation kinda pill, but I never did, I didn’t trust doctors.”

Years went by. They kept trying. No luck.

She goes on, “Finally, doctor just come out and tell me, ‘You just CAN’T have children, honey.’ That was pretty hard to deal with.”

They gave up on the idea of family. They grew apart.

“We were fighting a lot,” she says. “We were just kids our ownselves.”

And things got worse. Their relationship went south. He slept in the guest bedroom. They ate suppers alone. They separated.

After a quiet divorce, they went their own ways. He left town for Montgomery, she stayed.

“We parted friends,” she says. “But secretly, I’s hoping he’d come back.”

But he didn’t. And the hits kept coming.

Six years later, she lost her mother to kidney problems. Only one year thereafter, her father developed pneumonia. He spiraled downward. She admitted him to a hospital. He died there.

They buried him next to her mother.

“I lost both parents in almost four hundred days,” she said. “It felt like a big joke God was playing on me. I gave up hope.”

Her ex-husband attended her father’s funeral. It had been a long time since she’d seen him. They embraced. She nearly ruined his shirt with tears.

She asked him to stay. He did.

For a year, he stayed.

“I needed him,” she said. “He knew me better than anyone. He’d hold me sometimes, and let me cry. I was sorry we ever got divorced, sorry I pushed him away.”

He helped her. She helped him. They talked about things. About life. They talked remarriage.

Before her forty-fifth birthday, she was getting ready for work one morning. She felt sick to her stomach.

“Thought I was coming down with the flu,” she said.

It was no virus. A friend told her it could be morning sickness. It was.

In a whirlwind, they re-married. The ceremony was a small affair in a friend’s living room. They had music, a keg, she wore a green dress, he wore a necktie.

And in the fall she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

“After all these years,” she said. “I’ve learned to never give up hope. Even when there ain’t nothing left to hope in. Hoping is how a body stays alive, I think.”

A woman enters the room to interrupt us. She is brunette—the spitting image of the elderly woman in her younger days.

The brunette thanks me for interviewing her mother. I tell her it’s no problem. In fact, it was a pleasure.

“This here’s my miracle child,” says the old woman, kissing the brunette. “Her name is Hope.”


Whoever you are, reading this, don’t you dare give up.


  1. Maxine - August 25, 2017 10:17 am

    “Finally, doctor just come out and tell me, ‘You just CAN’T have children, honey.’ That was pretty hard to deal with.”

    I don’t know how you can mourn the loss of something you never had, but that right there will do it to ya. I LOVE that she has Hope. Hope is a blessing.

    • Sandy - August 25, 2017 11:36 am

      Yes. I agree. very hard to take those words after years of try this and come back in 3 months and suddenly your life has whizzed by. A decade where you can’t really remember what else happened.
      I am so glad for the Hope this lady experienced.
      And I am glad for 30 years with the Thoughtful Man who is so caring.

  2. JE - August 25, 2017 11:21 am

    Thank you so much.

  3. Pete Black - August 25, 2017 1:04 pm

    Hi Sean,

    The Small town girl was a wonderful, encouraging story.



  4. Cynthia Perfater - August 25, 2017 1:51 pm

    Inspiring story. Keep ’em coming Sean!

  5. Trudy :) - August 25, 2017 2:20 pm

    Thank you for this one, Sean. I see so many give up, even give up hope. Sometimes that’s all a person’s got; sometimes that’s all they need.

  6. Marion Pitts - August 25, 2017 2:31 pm

    Such a sweet story. I had goosebumps after I read it! Hope is one of our greatest gifts.

  7. Jack Quanstrum - August 25, 2017 2:43 pm

    Thank you for the inspirational story Sean! I hope all the time. I hope everybody hopes,without it we are lost. We never know what’s going to happen to us or our loved ones. Bad or Good. But with hope our spirit persists forward. Thank goodness it does. It does in every real life story you tell. Keep that hope alive through your posts and speaking engagements. Shalom!

  8. Katy - August 25, 2017 2:46 pm

    Thank you. Sean, for the inspiration and HOPE you share each and every day!

  9. Ava - August 25, 2017 3:08 pm

    My daughter was told she couldn’t have babies, by two different doctors. My wonderful grandson is 20 years old. God knows more than doctors.

  10. Suzanne Rainey - August 25, 2017 3:08 pm

    This one gave me goosebumps. I like to call them Godbumps!

  11. Dave Helms - August 25, 2017 3:14 pm

    Nicely done. I about gave up hope a time or two. But you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and after a while, your miracle happens. Gotta wait on it sometimes. Thank you for this column.

  12. Chris - August 25, 2017 3:25 pm

    Hope isn’t dead, we just don’t hear about it on the TV anymore. Thanks for this beautiful reminder for all of us to stay in it.

  13. Pamela McEachern - August 25, 2017 5:39 pm

    Thank you Sean, it’s all in God’s time and hope is a very happy place to be. ??

  14. Beth Thrift - August 26, 2017 12:56 am

    Sean, you have an amazing talent. Thanks for making me cry…again!

  15. Starla Redmon - August 26, 2017 12:59 pm

    Sean, just and cried. My husband had a wreck (1993) and is totally blind now. Right now is very sick and feeling down, so am I but hope made me realize we just have to hold on and something better is on the horizon. Thank you for these wonderful stories they keep an “ole southern girl” my son-in-law (son) going.

  16. Janet Mary Lee - August 26, 2017 4:28 pm

    Beautiful story, thank you again!! 🙂

  17. Kelly Myer - August 27, 2017 8:13 am

    Such a precious story…
    It’s key!

  18. Suzette - October 9, 2017 12:08 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My family is dealing with the loss of my mother. My father is learning to live alone after over half a decade. I started reading your stories when someone sent me the one you wrote about your father and honey buns. Your words seem like they are written just for me. From the article about your father, I learned that it’s ok to talk about my mother even if I still get present tense mixed up with past tense. So many other stories have touched my heart. I needed to hear this story about hope today. God bless.

  19. Donna - October 9, 2017 1:04 pm

    You’re getting to be like my coffee, Sean: first thing every morning! Thanks.

  20. GiGi - October 9, 2017 2:20 pm

    Always hope
    for the best
    The seasons to change
    for the good days ahead


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