A Mother’s Day Tribute To My Hero

On a warm day in 1996 I launched my third home run of the day in a coed softball league. It was one of those great moments that makes you feel like a million bucks. The opposing captain had waved his centerfielder back three times. He’d seen me hit before and he knew right where the ball was going, but the guy out there didn’t believe, even after the first two, that I could hit it that far.

When the third one went over his head, the captain jumped up and down as I rounded first. The game wasn’t a big deal. It was just for fun. There was no umpire. And the pitchers lobbed the ball in. But guys like to win and trotting around first feels mighty good.

I’m not going to tell you that I was a great baseball player, because I wasn’t. I never hit a fastball well. That day, standing on the field, I finally realized why I could hit the ball that far, and when I understood, the realization changed the way I looked at the world forever.

To get some perspective, let’s go way back to 1943.

My maternal grandmother died soon after giving birth to my mother and my grandfather had his hands full with five children, one of them an infant. With little money and no skills to care for the children, my grandfather sent my mother to foster care.

It was then she met my hero, Doris West. Grandma West had a gift for raising children and the stories of the amazing things she did with sick or troubled kids are too numerous to mention. One of my favorites is the story of her own son. He was born 1.7 pounds and given no chance to survive because incubators for preemies hadn’t been invented yet. She placed him in a shoe box, wrapped him in cotton and kept him warm on her oven door. He lived well into his eighties thanks to Grandma West being clever enough to keep him warm.

Her gift to all of us was patience, kindness, and caring. She taught life lessons that changed the way my brother, sister, and I view the world. We’ve passed those lessons on to our children and soon they will pass them on further.

If you think this is a big impact, you are right. But we were just the beginning. Grandma West cared for 56 babies as a foster mother. Changing the lives of 56 children and their children and now their grandchildren. Grandma West had a bigger impact on our world than anyone I’ve ever met.

When I began writing, I took her name to honor all she had done for me.

I left another tribute to her in the first book in my Randy Black Series, Sin And Vengeance. There is a hidden code that is a dedication to her memory. Search the book for her last name with an exclamation point after it “West!”. The message begins with the next letter. If you cross out the following ten letters and keep the eleventh and do this over and over, the text will reveal a message that is surprisingly long.

If you have read the second book in my Randy Black Series, you’ve met Grandma West. She’s pictured in Chapter 21 of A Demon Awaits as Di Stowers, a little old woman who cares for dozens of small children. Her house is lined with Mother’s Day cards because Di Stowers is a mother to many. If you unscramble the letters of her name, they form Doris West.

So what does Grandma West have to do with softball?

When I was one year old, Grandma discovered that I loved to hit a Wiffle Ball. She lobbed pitches to me for hours. She did this so much that even more than thirty years later, when a ball came in the way she tossed it to me, I couldn’t help but smash it. This wasn’t the biggest gift she gave me. Not by a long shot, but it was the one that helped me see what a blessing she had been to us all.

Grandma has been gone many years now, but her legacy will live forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and your hero!

I hope you can see the ripples she’s made in this world for a long time to come.


21 Comments on “A Mother’s Day Tribute To My Hero”

  1. Jo says:

    I have always marvelled at the capacity that these special people have for compassion and love for others; it seems neverending, doesn’t it? They are the best of us, that’s for certain –

  2. That was a beautiful tribute CJ She sounds like she was a very remarkable women.

  3. Nissie says:

    Beautiful post CJ. She sounds a lot like my grandma.

  4. C. Martin says:

    Great Post CJ. If it had’t been for the Love and life’s lesson that she taught me I wouldn’t have been able to have the capacity to love and nurture any of my children. She was the most beautiful person that I have ever known in my life. She lost her mother at a very young age and because of this, having lost my mother at the age of ten days old we developed a very special bond. She was a next door neibor, but took me in for two years. She also helped me through my entire life and was a great Grandma for all my three children. the very best thing that we can do when we have someone that special in our lives is pass it forward to others in our life.

  5. Amazing story, CJ. How fortunate for you and your family to have been touched by the hand of such an angel.

  6. CJ you truly were blessed to have such an amazing person in your life! I myself had a wonderful grandmother who truly made a huge difference by being a part of my life… Even though I was #41 of 42 grandchildren, she loved me as much as though I had been her first. And yes, lol, this post made me cry!

  7. This gave me goose bumps, the good kind! Grandmas are often very special people in our lives, but yours sounds like she was extra special. Thanks for sharing her story with us.

  8. Shannon Esposito says:

    The say it takes a village to raise a child, but Grandma West sounds like she was a village all by herself. What a remarkable soul.

  9. What a truly beautiful story and woman. *sniff*

  10. Reblogged this on Author Kim Mullican and commented:
    A must read. Grab the tissue!

  11. Angela says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us, it’s a beautiful tribute to a truly beautiful Lady :o)

  12. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing her with us.

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