on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Seeing the Child — Day 17

My stepmom is 81 years old and in a hospital as I write this post with pneumonia, but she is still teaching me how to be present with another.

When a nurse walked in the room today, my Mom asked her, “How are you today?”  The nurse responded in a perfunctory way only to hear my Mom offer an honest compliment, “I love the way you fix your hair.”

A smile came across the nurse’s face, and a follow up question was asked, “Do you do it yourself?”  “Oh yes,” the nurse responded, “I do.”  “Remind me of your name,” my Mom says almost as quickly as the young woman can answer.  “My name is Sandra,” she says.  “That’s right, Sandra.”

I was there for less than an hour and the phlebotomist, nursing assistant, and dietary aide who came into the room were all greeted with unique questions and authentic affirmations.

My Mom told me about each one of them out loud as they went about their work, “This lady is in nursing school at the junior college near our home, I’m so proud of her,” she adds.  Or “This fine man has a wife and three kids, all of them under five years old, can you believe that?”

She knows where they go to church (this is the deep South), how long they have worked in the hospital, and something that she loves about each one of them.  Without exception.

Did I say she is 81, has pneumonia, and is in the hospital? She has been my “second Mom” for forty-two years and I am grateful she is still the consummate teacher in life.  She was so good at teaching kindergarten to third graders over a many decade career in different public schools, and her ability to see the child in each person is inspiring.

My Mom refuses to see persons as robots who are only in a role. Instead she sees each person as unique who comes into the room.  And she will not allow others to put her in the role of a patient only.  She shares about her life as a teacher or pastor’s wife.

I wonder how many people I see everyday in a perfunctory manner. What about you?

Do you see the cashier at the convenience store as a money exchanger only?  What about the waitress in the restaurant, the sales person in the store?  The dentist or the parking attendant?  What about people with whom you work?

I know one thing, I want to be more like my Mom who sees everyone as somebody’s son or daughter.

God bless Jimmie Ruth.

And God help me to see everyone I meet as the unique child of God that they are.

P.S.  And by the way, my Mom is improving daily, thank you.


  1. Edna Shurden Langley

    Giving thanks just now for my own mother, Morelle White Shurden, and for all the life lessons she taught me and for all the love and grace she gave to me. And giving thanks just now as well for you, Malcolm, and your causing me to reflect on one special lady in my life.

  2. Malcolm

    Thank you Edna, I have been fortunate to have two good Mamas, and many adopted ones along the way.

  3. Sulynn

    Truly a dear sweet lady with a gentle, kind spirit. I will continue to pray for her healing.

  4. Malcolm

    Thank you Sulynn, she is a sweetie that is for sure.

  5. Madeline Grieb

    Malcolm, I love this series. I especially loved hearing about your stepmom. If she has to be in the hospital, i wish she could be in mine. She sounds like the exception to the patients we normally see! Praying for her continued improvemnt.

  6. Bill Glass

    Hello Malcolm, as you know I know your sweet stepmom and appreciate her so much. Also, love seeing the picture of her since I have not seen her in so long. I can remember her on one of our youth trips many years ago and she made sure my birthday was celebrated since we were away from home. She and my Mom also had a special bond. Sorry to hear that she is under the weather but that she is getting better.

  7. Danny Calloway

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, your step-mom and your family and friends. She seems really okay for someone of her age and with pneumonia. ‘ Still read your daily posts, they are my main source of peace and understanding during Lent. I often share them with our interium Rector and a few of my special friends.

  8. Malcolm

    Bill, I did not know the story about my Mom and one of your youth trips, thank you for taking the time to share it.

    Danny, I am thankful for your faithful readership on my blog and for sharing it with others. That means a lot. Peace to you during this season of change.

  9. Ann Rogers McGraw

    Thanks for the comments about your mom. They remind me of my dad, Billy Rogers. Just minutes before his death, he was introducing me to the CCU nurse and affirming her gifts of nursing. Even though he died more than 20 years ago, he still inspires me every day to see every person as an individual with gifts and needs. I can choose to look for and affirm those gifts and/or identify and meet those needs, if possible. In my opinion, that is being a true Follower of Jesus!

  10. Malcolm

    Dear Ann, thanks for letting us know about your dad, Billy Rogers. I love hearing how persons influence our lives long after they are gone. What a legacy. Peace to you.

  11. Linda Clark


    We have not “talked” in quite a while now, but I enjoy keeping up with you and your great works. I of course know Jimmie Ruth and her sweet smile from church and I’m sorry to hear she is in the hospital. Your dad was also a great man of God. Know that our Prayers are with her and you. I lost my mom a little over a year ago, but was fortunate to have her with me for 91 years.

  12. Malcolm

    Hi Linda, great to hear from you. I am sorry to hear about your Mom’s death. I’m so thankful you had her in your life for so long. Peace to you.

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