30: A True Mother

30: A True Mother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

A True Mother

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~Melody Beattie

I remember well the day I realized I had a true mother here in the United States, so far from my home in Germany. I had packed the last of the dishes for the move, when she called. Oh no, I thought. I can’t talk to her right now. My heart was bleeding and I had no idea how to start a new life with my six children — without my husband. I was sure Grandma Towne would give me a hard time. After all, I was leaving her only son. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything. I didn’t want to lose her support and friendship. I had already lost so much. But I did tell her.

“Gary and I have separated. I’m filing for divorce.”


“Are you there, Mom?”

“Yes. I don’t know what to say. Are you sure that’s the right thing?”

“I’ve thought and prayed about it. I can’t raise the kids with them knowing about the details of our troubled marriage.” My voice broke.

“It’s all right, Sonja. I understand,” Grandma Towne said. “Do you need any help?”

That caught me by surprise. Mom Towne wasn’t mad or upset. Instead, she offered me help. “Sonja? Don’t think you are divorcing me, too. If there’s anything I can do to help you, I would like that.”

Suddenly the sky wasn’t as dark. I took a deep breath to steady my voice, but tears rolled down my cheeks, anyway. “Oh, Mom…” I said and couldn’t say anything else.

“Why don’t you bring the kids? I can keep them until you have your stuff together.”

I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. “That would make it so much easier. And… thanks.”

“Everything will turn out okay. The divorce shouldn’t make a difference in our relationship. You’re like my daughter. Your children are my grandchildren, and that can never be taken from us. Go ahead and bring them. I’ll keep them until your summer classes are over.” And that’s what I did.

Grandma kept the kids at her home in Colorado, while I finished summer courses at the university.

As time passed, Grandma Towne was always there for me. When the engine in my car exploded, she drove three hours to pick me and the kids up, and helped us to find a new car. She came to my graduation and helped me find a good teaching job not too far away. When I got remarried, she embraced my new husband and called him “son,” just like she had taken me in as a daughter so many years ago when I had first married her own son.

~Sonja Herbert

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