“I was basically invisible,” he said. “People came into the group home, mostly couples looking to adopt, and they totally didn’t see me.

“I was like a puppy in the pound that you don’t notice.”

He had low vision. Although the U.S. government would’ve called him “legally blind.”

The kid was 9 years old. He could see, but not much. His peripheral vision was nearly non-existent. He had—to use an oversimplified cliché—tunnel vision.

“I could see a tiny bit,” he said. “The glaucoma left me with an itty-bitty circle in the center of my visual field.”

But nobody wanted to adopt a kid with glaucoma. It was too much work. He needed extra care. Extra attention. He could only read large print. He had special teachers at school. And someday, he would probably go totally blind.

The volunteers at the group home were nice to him. But they weren’t parents. Not even close.

Every evening, when group-home volunteers would leave for home to be with their real families, with their actual kids, he would be stuck there at the home. Alone.

He would lie in his bunk with the other parent-less kids. In relative darkness. Crying. The reality would sink in. He was an orphan with a capital O.

An orphan, you see, grows up without confidence. You and I take confidence for granted. When you have a measure of confidence, life is okay. The world is one big opportunity. You have options.

But when you have no confidence, the earth is dangerous and unforgiving. Life is a manure sandwich. Eat it or starve.

“I didn’t like my life,” he said. “I wasn’t even 10 years old and I hated being alive.”

It was the Christmas season. A long time ago. A young woman came into the group home. She was young. Brunette. She was dressed in a fast-food uniform. She was on break and she smelled like cigarettes.

The young woman had quite a story. She and her husband been told by doctors they couldn’t have children. Then her husband had died of pneumonia. She was a widow by age 23.

The one thing she wanted, even though she couldn’t afford it, was a child. It was a burning desire inside her. An illogical desire, yes. Such as the nonsensical desires many have to run marathons. Or to sing karaoke.

The young woman toured the group home. She found the 9-year-old kid sitting in the corner, listening to the radio. There was something about him. Something that drew her in.

“He’s legally blind,” the foster workers said. “And he’s a really good kid.”

The young woman sat beside the young man. She listened to the radio alongside him.

“Do you know who’s singing on the radio right now?” she asked.

He nodded. “The Rolling Stones,” he said.

“You like the Stones?”

He nodded. “Oh, I love the Stones.”

Turned out, the young woman knew all the words to “Jumping Jack Flash.” She proved it by singing along.

The kid was amazed at this. He had never met an adult who knew the words to any Stones songs.

The young woman asked if the kid would be interested in giving things a trial run at her house.

“Would you want to come live with me?” she asked.

“Can we sing Rolling Stones?”

You bet your ascot we can, she said.

The woman somehow drummed up the money to raise a kid. The young man moved in. He had his own room and everything. She gave him his first real Christmas he ever had. He received mostly clothes and candy. They ate ham.

He was a good kid. He eventually lost his vision completely, but he never felt isolated because of this. Not in her house. His mother worked triple-time to afford the best tutors, and the best care.

He got through elementary school with all A’s. He licked high school with A’s and B’s. He aced college and got his degree in English. And then, because he is a glutton for misery, he went back and got his MBA.

“I credit it all to my mom,” he said. “She’s the reason for every good thing in my life.”

And last year, at her funeral, he said as much.

“I grew up invisible,” he wrote in his eulogy. “My mom was the first person who really saw me. I only wish I could’ve seen her.”

“Anyway,” he said in an email to me, “I thought that would be a good Christmas story for you.”

You thought right, Bernard.


  1. Patty - November 27, 2022 6:48 am

    “ My mom was the first person who really saw me. I only wish I could’ve seen her.”. Ok, that made me tear up. What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Always love your stories, Sean.

  2. Debbie g - November 27, 2022 7:08 am

    And Merry Christmas it was
    Beautiful thanks for sharing. Love to us all 🎈

  3. Kathryn Painter - November 27, 2022 10:20 am

    So inspiring and raw. God is so good. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of real love.

  4. Dolores - November 27, 2022 10:56 am

    I guess rock and roll is not the devil’s music after all. Just kidding. But another prime example of how God can use anything, anyone.
    Bernard’s story is also fitting on Mother’s Day. And everyday but particularly this Christmas season. Let’s look for the invisible the invisible ones. And let them know they are seen.

  5. Renee Welton - November 27, 2022 11:11 am

    Beautiful story, thank you for sharing it♥️

  6. mccutchen52 - November 27, 2022 11:16 am

    Another touching story..No eye drop this morning.

  7. Steve LaChance - November 27, 2022 11:26 am

    The story feels somehow incomplete. I don’t know what is missing tho.

  8. Paula - November 27, 2022 11:31 am

    Thank you

    • Gayla - November 27, 2022 2:18 pm


  9. Diana - November 27, 2022 12:12 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you, Sean.

  10. Debbie - November 27, 2022 12:29 pm

    May we all be seen and loved. Wonderful story.

  11. Susan - November 27, 2022 12:31 pm

    This is what love can do.

  12. Susan - November 27, 2022 12:41 pm

    Beautiful story, Sean! Thank you for sharing—and one day, Bernard, you will get to see her♥️🙏

  13. Ruth - November 27, 2022 12:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing Bernard’s story and Gods grace in his life through a wonderful woman who loved him. I do hope he will see her again one day. Love all the other comments too😇.

  14. Louise Barnes - November 27, 2022 1:17 pm

    Whomever his mother was, she was an angel. And I so admire his tenacity. God bless you Bernard. Merry Christmas.

  15. Darcy Schmidt - November 27, 2022 1:29 pm

    This is such a beautiful story! Tells me to always love people because you don’t know who your reaching just by a smile.

  16. Pubert Earle Bozemann - November 27, 2022 1:50 pm

    Bravo Sean. BRAVO! GREAT story! I would comment, but it speaks for itself.

    Res Ipsa Loquitur

    Your friend,


  17. Julie - November 27, 2022 1:56 pm

    Thank you Sean for telling Bernard’s story. God bless!!

  18. Barry - November 27, 2022 1:59 pm

    Does it really matter what she looks like on the outside? Through Bernard and Sean, we see what she looks like on the inside, which is all that’s most important about how anyone sees us.

  19. Anne Arthur - November 27, 2022 2:12 pm

    A beautiful Christmas story, indeed. When love shines in the souls of good people, God leads them to find each other. Thank you, Bernard, for allowing Sean to share your life’s story with us.

  20. Priscilla Rodgers - November 27, 2022 2:20 pm

    What a beautiful family. Thanks for writing about them and all the others that you do. What a great way to start the Advent season.

  21. AlaRedClayGirl - November 27, 2022 2:25 pm

    This story makes me think of all the others out there just waiting to “be really seen.” Maybe I should try harder to see everyone. Thank you for beautiful reminder.

  22. Chasity Davis Ritter - November 27, 2022 2:42 pm

    It’s a good thing I enjoy salt on my food because I always read you when I take my morning breaks and eat breakfast and cry every time. Great story though. I read all the love between the lines of the last half.

  23. Marilyn - November 27, 2022 2:51 pm

    The heart of a mother … may the little girls of today be taught how to be a lady … grow into beautiful young women who understand the eternal depth of motherhood. May they be those who are “keepers at home” teaching from their knees virtues that build strong homes, strong societies, strong nations with God at the center.

  24. Patricia Gibson - November 27, 2022 3:21 pm

    Great Christmas story! I choked up! Thank God for this lady and her wonderful heart!

  25. Nazem Nassar - November 27, 2022 3:53 pm

    Thanks Sean for the awesome Bernard’s story!
    I cannot imagine how many Bernards outthere around the globe? Just imagine!
    The latest I saw in the opening of FIFA Football ceremony last week at Qatar. A living grown child without lower body was presented !!
    Healthy ones should be greatful to God the Creator. Always Praise to God for the blessing of sight and for the blessing of everything 🙏.

  26. Barbara - November 27, 2022 4:15 pm

    A lovely Christmas Story, Thank you

  27. Sue Ellen - November 27, 2022 4:27 pm

    I see you, Bernard❤️

  28. sjhl7 - November 27, 2022 4:35 pm

    Love this! Awesome story and awesome Mom and Son!

  29. Jo Downs - November 27, 2022 4:42 pm

    May everyone be seen! ❤

  30. Bill Woodward - November 27, 2022 4:47 pm

    I’m am always amazed at the generosity of si many . This woman surely is in heaven seeing her son do well because of her love and compassion . This story is a gift to all of us . Thank you

  31. Ellen C - November 27, 2022 4:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!
    They completed each other… she had her child and he had his Mother… what can be better/ more beautiful than that? God Bless them both!

  32. Beth Morgan - November 27, 2022 5:10 pm

    I read your column daily. This particular story really struck my heart today, 2 days after Thanksgiving. It spoke to me on multvlevels…especially at this time of year when gratitude, kindness and love are front and center, like they should be all year long, I might add! I am very grateful that you shared it with us all, Sean. Thank you!

  33. joseybell - November 27, 2022 5:26 pm

    I wanted to write a comment but something in my eye is making my vision blurry.

  34. Jim Kelly - November 27, 2022 5:40 pm

    God bless Bernard and bless you for sharing this moving story. But most of all, God Bless MOM !

  35. davidpbfeder - November 27, 2022 6:06 pm

    Thanks, Sean, for making a grown man cry…again! (If you keep this up, people are going to think I’m an easy mark!)

  36. ocasey - November 27, 2022 6:21 pm

    Merry Christmas

  37. Linda Moon - November 27, 2022 6:25 pm

    An adult who sings with the Stones! I like this young woman. Thank you, Bernard, for passing your story along to Sean, and thank you Sean for passing it along to us while we wait for Christmas to get here………

  38. Naomi - November 27, 2022 6:26 pm

    One of my husband’s aunts went blind when she was three years old from meningitis. It was during the depression. Her father and her brother were sharecroppers, but they had to get jobs at a local mill so that they could feed their families. Both his mother and father and his aunts worked at the mill, so his blind aunt had to take care of him. Every day, she would read the Bible from her Braille Bible, and he would follow along in his Bible. He learned how to read before he started school; he later went on to become an ordained preacher. My cousin’s oldest child was blinded at birth from having too much oxygen in the incubator. Although his parents and his uncle were devastated, this young man graduated from college, became a stockbroker, got married and had children.

  39. David - November 27, 2022 6:45 pm

    Love the story!

  40. MAM - November 27, 2022 7:28 pm

    Leaky eyes this morning caused by this heart-warming story! Thanks as always, Sean, for telling the stories we all need to hear, remember and act on. Happy Advent, the preparation time for the coming of the birthday of our Savior.

  41. Barbara J Schweck - November 27, 2022 7:38 pm

    You have got me crying yet again, Sean!! There are so many people in this world that truly need each other If we would just take a step in faith, we would all come together!!

  42. B Gunson - November 27, 2022 8:22 pm

    Thank you, Sean and Bernard.

  43. Chris Spencer - November 27, 2022 8:45 pm

    I pray that he one day does see her in Heaven.

  44. Kathy - November 27, 2022 9:04 pm

    So much sweetness in this story. Glad he shared with you and you shared with us. 💞

  45. Susan marler - November 27, 2022 11:24 pm

    Thank you. Now can I please put my box of kleenex away.? Please keep telling the stories we all need to hear. Thank you.

  46. BettyK and - November 27, 2022 11:52 pm

    That is a wonderful Christmas story! A true miracle! God knows our needs and knew he and his Mama needed each other! An amazing blessing for both of them and for all who read this!!

  47. Phyllis Ann Isaac - November 28, 2022 12:17 am

    Thank you, Sean. A beautiful story, and well written.

  48. Cathy Moss - November 28, 2022 12:40 am

    There are angels among us. Truly❤️🙏🏻

  49. Nancy Warnix - November 28, 2022 1:07 am

    great story!

  50. Gwen W. Young - November 28, 2022 1:07 am


  51. Naomi Smith - November 28, 2022 4:06 am

    God has a way of making all the right connections. He definitely connected those two precious people.

    December 28,1983 He brought us together with our son. A precious 3 month old, who we would foster for 2 years before he became our son.

  52. Linda Summers - November 28, 2022 4:17 am

    What a powerful story. I am so grateful Bernard shared it with you Sean and that you had the heart to write about it. We all cry out to be seen. God Bless you and Bernard’s Mom.

  53. Karen Snyder - November 28, 2022 4:28 am

    ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you.

  54. sflouden - November 28, 2022 6:36 am

    Wow Bernard….it was a very good Christmas Story and thank you for sharing it with us. You have shown yourself to be a survivor. And that is not an easy task for even those who can see. So my hat is off to you for fighting so hard and achieving so much. I wrote this as though you are still a child…and I know you are not but I wanted to speak to that little boy inside of you who was so alone and lost so long ago. You don’t need mine or anyone else’s encouragement but thanks for the encouragement through your story for me

  55. Peggy Slaton - November 28, 2022 2:07 pm

    What a heartwarming story of a “life” saved.

  56. Connie - November 28, 2022 7:11 pm

    Way to persevere, Bernard! You are loved!!!

  57. Susan - November 29, 2022 6:58 am

    Well, you did it again……I am sitting here crying. What a beautiful story. I am a retired social worker who worked with children in foster care. Many of my children were adopted by their foster parents. Many were adopted by blood relatives. Adoptions were the most rewarding happenings to me. It will be a glorious day when Bernard sees his momma for the first time. I bet she will be standing at the gates of heaven waiting for her son.

  58. Sean of the South: The Mama | The Trussville Tribune - November 29, 2022 1:41 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]


Leave a Comment