Wonder Boy

She gave him to his aunt—who had even more addiction problems than his mother. It was a bad idea. He was five when his aunt gave him to the foster system.

He was two when his mother gave him up. He has one faint memory of her.

In the memory, she’s sitting in the backseat, holding him. He remembers radio music. Sunlight. That’s all.

It’s a short recollection, but it’s all he has.

She gave him to his aunt—who had even more addiction problems than his mother. It was a bad idea. He was five when his aunt gave him to the foster system.

Group homes are not places you want to find yourself. Three square meals and a bed. It’s no day at the Ramada.

When he was thirteen he came down with pneumonia. It landed him in the hospital for a week. He didn’t care if he survived.

At night, he’d stare out his hospital window and wonder if anyone even cared that he was sick.

Someone cared. A woman with gray hair and kind eyes. She was a night-shift nurse.

“What’cha staring at?” she asked him once.

“I dunno,” he said. “Stars, I guess.”

She talked. He listened. She told stories. All kinds. A good story can do a lot for a lonely kid.

She told a story about her grandmother, who was raised in orphanages during the Great Depression.

The boy was all ears.

She told him how her granny wore plain clothes and ate institutional food. How love ran thin. And how one day, she got married.

The kid’s face perked up.

“My granny wasn’t lonely forever,” the nurse said. “When she met my grandfather, she inherited a big family. She was so happy.”

When Granny passed, she’d become the happiest orphan in ten states. She had a big family. Fourteen grandkids.

“That’s a lot of grandkids,” the boy said.

“One day,” the nurse said. “You’ll have a big family.”

The thought made him smile.

But life isn’t a perfect bedtime story. It’s imperfect and unfair. The boy developed asthma after his chest infection, and a handful of other problems.

And people don’t adopt sickly kids. One day, those kids grow up to be twenty-year-olds without anyone to wish them happy birthday.

But he was a good twenty-year-old. Smart. Independent. A community college student, with a cracker-jack IQ. He burned through classes like a man with his hair on fire. Straight A’s.

Then he met her. She was tall, loud spoken, and funny. He was drawn to her. She was out of his league, but it didn’t matter because she liked him.

She invited him to a restaurant. Just the two of them. He was so nervous that he spent money he didn’t have on new clothes.

He showed up forty minutes early. He sat at an empty table, waiting. He stood when he saw her. He pulled her chair out for her—he’d seen it on TV once.

That was quite a night. His first date, first kiss, first time feeling important, all wrapped into one evening.

They married. He inherited her big family. They have good jobs. Kids. They had their first grandson last May. It’s not a perfect life, but by God, it’s beautiful.

“I’ll always remember that nurse,” he says. “You know, she gave me hope. She knew what she was doing.

“And I realize now, that all people need is a little hope. They just need to know that things will be okay, even when they’re not.”

Hope. We could sure use a little of that in this bloody world we live in.

Anyway, now you know why he’s a nurse.


  1. Jack Darnell - February 16, 2018 7:14 am

    I just sent that to my favorite nurses, my grand daughters! Thanks

  2. Sandra Smith - February 16, 2018 7:23 am

    THIS ol’ Nurse is smilin’ thru tears. ❤❤❤

  3. Kelly - February 16, 2018 11:00 am

    Thank you. My niece is now caring for a man with MS. She is an amazing nurse and gives me hope everyday.

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - February 16, 2018 12:05 pm

    What a great story! Yes!! We all need a little hope. And you give it Sean — BIG time. Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Kathy G. - February 16, 2018 12:08 pm

    Yes, we all could use some hope. ❤️

  6. Jo Ann - February 16, 2018 12:59 pm

    Love it!! Thanks from a retired nurse. We , all of us, can make a difference.

    • Linda Willoughby - February 19, 2019 12:35 am

      I also am a retired nurse, and this story is so sweet. I’m sure I was placed on this earth to become a nurse, and I loved it. I’m still a nurse, I just retired. Once a nurse always a nurse. That’s what everyone on this earth is needing-a little hope, and everyone has the capability to provide that hope for someone’

  7. janiesjottings - February 16, 2018 1:26 pm

    Loved this story. Wow!!!

  8. Sue Cronkite - February 16, 2018 1:50 pm

    Hope is the operative word. We all need to spread it around.

  9. Connie - February 16, 2018 2:18 pm

    I needed some hope today. Thank you.

  10. James McClure - February 16, 2018 2:45 pm

    I am warmed every day by reading you. Thank you!

  11. Jan - February 16, 2018 2:52 pm

    Another day, another blessing from Sean! Thank you!

  12. yaya1952 - February 16, 2018 3:28 pm

    This was beautiful…great message for everyone when so many are hurting today in our country…Hope and Faith don’t cost a dime!! Thanks Sean!

  13. Phyllis Hamilton - February 16, 2018 3:31 pm

    So true! We do all need some hope. I pray a lot for the Lord to look upon us! I love your stories and would love another novel like “Lyla”.

  14. Pat - February 16, 2018 4:09 pm

    As a retired nurse, I also enjoyed this story, but I really wanted to say that I have two nurse friends, one who spent some years in foster care and then in a Children’s Home and another who lost her father when she was 7 and her mother when she was 11, both to cancer, and her grandmother then raised her. Both of my friends have encountered some hard knocks as children, but they both have the most level head on them and are a joy to be around! Love them both!

  15. Meg - February 16, 2018 4:18 pm

    You are truly a tonic. Thank you.

  16. Deena - February 16, 2018 10:44 pm

    Kind words are sometimes all somebody needs. Praise the Lord for that compassionate nurse…

  17. Jody - February 16, 2018 11:18 pm

    We all have the opportunity to lift someone up. Thanks Sean for the uplifting stories you write ❤️

  18. Michael Hawke - February 17, 2018 2:49 am

    You just keep getting better. Thank you.

  19. Susan Hammett Poole - February 18, 2018 1:29 am

    After reading your story, I just want to blow a horn and shout “hurrah” in gratitude for that night nurse who spoke HOPE to Wonder Boy so long ago. Thank You, Lord, for all in the Nursing profession who are truly angels. And, Sean, I’m grateful for your stories that share HOPE with us, your loyal readers.

  20. Risa Nye - February 20, 2018 3:50 pm

    Thank you for another beautiful, inspiring post. My daughter, who spent about 4 months in the NICU, grew up to become a nurse. We were also given hope by nurses when things looked the worst. Will never forget it.

  21. Edna B. - March 16, 2018 9:00 am

    We all need hope from time to time. Thanks for this awesome story. Hugs, Edna B.

  22. Wade Smith - February 16, 2019 3:14 pm

    There are some great nurses out there.

  23. turtlekid - February 18, 2019 2:39 am

    Wish there were more men who thought about being a nurse. Folks think it means female, but it doesn’t. Maybe will inspire other men in that direction. Thank you for sharing.


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