The picture of her son was a wallet-sized, high-school portrait from the late sixties. The boy’s hair was painfully dated. His smile was easy. He was a good kid. That’s what they tell me.
He and his mother were close. Best friends, even. She was a single mother; he was a mama’s boy.
They were driving home from Atlanta one afternoon. They saw a car stalled on the side of the road.
“Don’t pull over,” she told her teenage son. “We don’t have time. Don’t wanna be late for kickoff.”
In those days, high-school kickoffs ruled the world. Her son was a good fullback. There was even talk about recruitment. Not serious talk, but talk.
Either way, he was a poster child for the American athlete. He had high cheekbones, mucho promise, a sweet girlfriend, good grades, and no limits.
“I gotta pull over, Mama,” he said. “That person needs help.”
He veered to the shoulder. He stepped out to help an old man change a tire.
She didn’t actually see it happen. But she heard the old man shout, “Move!”
And out of the corner of her eye, she saw the old man jump. Then: a crash. Followed by skidding.
And her boy was gone.
The days that followed were the worst of her life. Not only because he was gone, but because a piece of her had been buried, too.
Someone once heard her say, “I asked God to take me on the day of his funeral. I wanted to give up living. I couldn’t see the point.”
But God didn’t take her.
Something different happened. One sunny day, a knock at her door. Her son’s girlfriend. They sat at a table together. They cried peach-sized tears. They looked at photos. They held one another.
The girl told her she was pregnant.
And I understand that his mother’s happiness outweighed sadness.
The pregnancy was a normal, joyful one. Still, for each “congratulations” someone offered, an “I’m so sorry” followed.
But babies are immune to sadness, and they make others immune too. They cause people to feel warm no matter what the outside temperature. The child turned a plain hospital room into all smiles. And when the kid’s granny held him, that was that. Granny wouldn’t let him go for two days.
The boy spent his childhood at Granny’s. And Granny helped raise him—in many ways, she was Mother as much as Grandmother.
Over the years, she told the child stories about his father. About a hero. About a good young man. In fact, she wrote her stories down in a notebook so her grandson would always have them. It took a year to finish writing.
The last story in her notes was a lot like the one I just told you. A teenage Good Samaritan, a long drive home, and a quick stop to change a tire.
They tell me she died easy in her bed, with family nearby. She was fortunate not to suffer long. Her grandson made copies of a tattered notebook. He kept the new copies and placed the original in her casket—along with the black-and-white senior portrait of a fullback.
Someone told me that only hours before her death she said: “I’ve waited a long time to see my Danny again. I’m more than ready.”
Today she’s with her boy. And what a grand day in heaven it must be.
oldlibrariansshelf - September 21, 2021 8:26 am
Wow, you surely cause the tears to flow freely this morning. This great-grandmom is just going to cry a river into Heaven on your incredible stories!
david grant - September 21, 2021 10:24 am
Write on Sean: thank you for sharing.
Jan - September 21, 2021 10:34 am
So sad and yet so beautiful! Thank you!
Joey - September 21, 2021 11:20 am
Wow! Just wow. Such a beautiful story and so beautifully told.
Paul McCutchen - September 21, 2021 11:36 am
A touching story. Reminds me when my brother died in a car wreck.
Bj - September 21, 2021 11:40 am
Yes! What a grand day that will be! Thanks for the reminder. We are so busy with our affairs here and forget too quickly that that day is coming.
Karen Spracher - September 21, 2021 11:50 am
Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Back to hope and a life lived well. Thank you Sean, for starting my day with a soft heart.
Dana - September 21, 2021 12:00 pm
“With my boy” is what I had written on a ribbon on my husband’s pall after he died with pancreatic cancer. Our son died at 19. My husband died 10 years later.
Thank you for such a beautifully written article on such a sensitive subject.
Richard - September 21, 2021 12:00 pm
My allergies must be acting up. I find that I have tears in my eyes. Beautiful story. Thanks for writing this. God bless.
PEGGY THOMPSON - September 21, 2021 12:14 pm
Beautiful story, of A Mother’s love! Thank you.
Debbie g - September 21, 2021 12:37 pm
Beautiful. Much love
Lynn S - September 21, 2021 12:41 pm
Thank you for a beautiful story! I share your blogs with my three sons almost every morning.
Suellen - September 21, 2021 1:01 pm
I can feel her grief at the loss of her beautiful boy and her elation at holding his son in her arms. What a gift that part of him was able to live on.
Cathy - September 21, 2021 1:12 pm
God had a gift for her and that baby gave her a purpose and a reason to wake up every day. He works in mysterious ways.
Shelton A. - September 21, 2021 1:24 pm
A joyful reunion, I’m sure it was that and more! Thanks for a story of hope and love.
Karen Snyder - September 21, 2021 2:16 pm
Gayle Wilson - September 21, 2021 2:17 pm
Sean, your way of weaving a story is beautiful.
Christina - September 21, 2021 2:47 pm
I needed this especially on a lousy morning like today. Thanks Sean!
Chasity Davis Ritter - September 21, 2021 2:51 pm
You know sometimes I think about how much I love my daughter and I can’t quite get passed the fact that God loves me so much that He gave up His own son and let him die upon the Cross that we might be saved and we might be set free. I know Jesus didn’t stay dead he rose again but he still went through an incredible amount of pain and suffering for me and for you. And if we believe in this we won’t stay dead one day either. We go through bits of pain and suffering all of our lives. Physical and emotional and sometimes it likes to almost kill us or make us wish we could die too but we endure it just like Jesus did for us. God knew the outcome. He knew why it was necessary. Jesus’s mother Mary had to watch from his side here on earth. Had to see the damage and the blood and the pain. Her grief had to be immeasurable compared to what we feel and know today because of Jesus. When he son was dying he may have told her he would come again and be raised but she didn’t know what that meant at the time. They didn’t know heaven then. But we do!! We have this great promise and hope and belief because of what Jesus did for us. What He gave for us. While I was yet a sinner Christ died for me. And because I believe I will see my Dad again one day in Heaven. You will see yours and the others you lost who also believed and went on before us and just like this mom who loved her son so much we will all be reunited and what a day Glorious day that will truly be!
elizabethroosje - September 21, 2021 2:59 pm
Amazing story ❤
AlaRedClayGirl - September 21, 2021 2:59 pm
Linda Hill - September 21, 2021 3:33 pm
It’s easy to say no parent should lose a child-and this story moved me to tears. I lost my oldest daughter when she was 36. I never would have thought it possible-I had fears for some of my other 6 children, 1 or 2 were so good it scared me-maybe they were too good for this world… but not Dede-she was beautiful, smart – and a first class trouble maker. I KNEW she’d be around to torment me the longest day I lived. She pushed her baby sister out of her bedroom window when she was 4 & baby sister was 2. Praise God, miraculously no damage to my baby. Many told me she was the prettiest baby, child, young woman they’d ever seen. She beguiled, charmed, captivated so many-while I prayed she’d grow into a responsible person some day. She had to give up a baby for adoption when she was 16. Her boyfriend was whisked off by his mother “to save him”, breaking her heart. She had 2 other children, another boy she didn’t like & a little girl she adored. She broke the hearts of at least a few. Even when I sat by her hospital bed for a month while monitors & assorted machines kept her alive-I believed she would recover. She HAD to! Seeing her 14 year old daughter with tears streaming, her torn & bleeding heart so clearly reflected on her face was shattering on that last horrible day. Isn’t it only the good that die young? How could this happen? Sometime it is a baby that heals us all. As in your touching story, Sean. My little girl, a beautiful bundle of trouble, tearing through life, breaking hearts (and having hers broken) causing chaos & catastrophes left a legacy. Baby boy #1 adopted into a beautiful Christian home, cherished & loved. Baby boy #2 unloved by his mother but loved by many others in his family (her family) but died at 42! Of a heart attack. More likely a broken heart. And then # Baby Girl. As beautiful and smart as her mother but bringing nothing but joy everyday of her life. Now a mother herself with a fabulous husband & well balanced boys of her own. I asked her how in the world did she manage to accomplish everything she has in life (including a masters degree & then a doctorate while working pregnant with 1 while raising a toddler). She told me having a fantastic, supportive husband & involved hands on father- she observed the people around her-and if their actions didn’t result in the goals she set for herself, did the opposite! The only thing I want to add to this short story, is that with the death of my beautiful, little troublemaker I learned that I loved my least favorite child every bit as much as I loved my most favorite child.
Liza Bragg - September 21, 2021 3:33 pm
Linda Moon - September 21, 2021 4:16 pm
What a day of rejoicing it surely was, when the boy’s mother got to that place of victory and singing and shouting. Thank you for telling her stories to us. Right now, here on Earth, I’m rejoicing with her and her Danny.
Pat McNeill - September 21, 2021 4:19 pm
One of your best!!
kitkat6556 - September 21, 2021 4:21 pm
It’s been 15 yrs 3 mos since my son was KIA in Iraq. I know seeing Jesus will be beyond anything I can imagine but seeing my son next will be what my hearts been waiting for.
Bobby Crew - September 21, 2021 4:44 pm
Wow, I’m a 71 year old retired law enforcement officer who has seen so much of this. Now my allergies are acting up again. God bless you for the way you shared the story.
Jo Rufo - September 21, 2021 6:31 pm
GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US THROUGH AWFUL AND FANTASTIC! THANKS FOR SHARING!
Sue - September 21, 2021 10:51 pm
I feel your pain…I lost a beautiful, wonderful, sweet 47 year old son to suicide over 12 years ago and I miss him so much.
Russell Moulton - September 22, 2021 12:35 am
A real good one Sean. Drove through Brewton today! Hosting a wedding for daughter’s sister in law. Supposed to be in Anniston but moved to family only at Navarre (Damn COVID)! Love this one, keep going, means a lot.
Jan Werbish - September 22, 2021 4:13 am
What a gift you have for telling stories, thank you for sharing you talent !! Beautiful touching story!
joyce mills - September 22, 2021 4:38 pm
Wow❤️ Beautiful story🙏
Dawnie B - September 24, 2021 3:53 am
Thank you for sharing the story of how our Lord brought something wonderful out of a terrible tragedy. ❤ ✝️ May God bless this young man, you, and us as you continue to share how He works in all of our lives!